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At ACC's media gathering, opinions do vary on pay for play

Jerry DiPaola
| Sunday, July 21, 2013, 8:21 p.m.
Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald speaks during ACC Media Day on Sunday, July 21, 2013, in Greensboro, N.C.,
Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald speaks during ACC Media Day on Sunday, July 21, 2013, in Greensboro, N.C.,

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald usually can break football down to its basic elements:

See the guy with the ball, whip the blocker trying to clear the way and get both of them on the ground.

Donald is so strong that, sometimes, it's that simple.

Now that he's a senior and a team leader, he will be asked to come up with solutions to greater, more complex problems. When the ACC media gathering opened Sunday at the Grandover Resort, Donald was one of several athletes asked for an opinion on one of the most controversial issues in college football:

Paying players.

“I feel like we pretty much do get paid,” he said. “We get a free scholarship. That's worth I don't know how much, more than we can afford.

“We get money to pay bills (utilities, rent, etc.). I'm not going to say how much, but it's enough.”

The issue has grown legs since SEC coaches voted, 14-0, to award stipends of about $300 per month to student-athletes beyond the cost of a scholarship.

Donald's teammate, wide receiver Devin Street, agrees with him, but he notes football can be “almost a full-time job.”

“I don't see (paying players) as a bad thing, (considering) what we have to endure day in and day out.”

But Street is not advocating a pay-for-play policy.

“College is college,” he said. “It's not the NFL. The money would be there in the NFL when you are actually a pro. You are on the way to mastering your craft.”

ACC commissioner John Swofford said he is open to discussing both sides of the issue, but he added, “I'm not for paying players. I don't think that's what college athletics is about.”

North Carolina senior defensive end Kareem Martin said talk of paying players is “encouraging,” even though it won't help him before he leaves school.

“I feel like (schools) pay for our schooling, but we do more than go to school. It's like working at your job for free.”

Boston College linebacker Steele DiVitto said he is fortunate that his parents can help with expenses.

“But there are certain kids who can use a few extra bucks,” he said.He added, however, that playing the game and getting a free education in return — worth about $60,000 per year at Boston College — is a privilege that is difficult to quantify with dollars.

Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson is one of six current players who have joined a high-profile lawsuit started by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, claiming the NCAA owes billions of dollars to players for allowing their likenesses to be used without compensation.

Robinson is not among the Clemson contingent at these meetings, but teammate and quarterback Tajh Boyd supports him.

“I think it's great that he is stepping out,” Boyd said, “not just for our team or a group, but for college football altogether.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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