July 10, 2018 10:11:58 AM
Monday, Vic Schaefer became a multi-millionaire.
The new four-year contract for Mississippi State women's basketball coach will pay him $6,384,000 over that period, including $1,584,000 next season.
The new salary makes the Bulldogs' coach either the second or third highest paid women's basketball coach in the nation, behind only Connecticut's Geno Auriemma, and possibly, South Carolina's Dawn Staley.
Schaefer is definitely the highest paid women's coach without a national championship to his credit, but after back-to-back national runner-up finishes and four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, achievements no previous MSU women's team even came close to matching, the pay-off should not be surprising.
Over the past four years, the Bulldogs have gone from respectable to elite, setting records year after year in wins, conference wins, consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearances, Final Four appearances and, of course, those two national champion games appearances.
Also of note, the Bulldogs have gone from drawing around 2,000 fans a game in Schaefer's first season six years ago to 6,650 per game last year. In that season, the Bulldogs drew 133,000 fans for 20 home games.
The Bulldogs' ascension under Schaefer's guidance has been nothing short of meteoric.
Monday, he reaped the rewards of this unprecedented four-year run.
The past four years also reveals something else that is an emerging point of discussion in college athletics.
Four years ago, the core group of players that Schaefer has credited for much of his success arrived on campus. That group of freshmen -- Victoria Vivians, Morgan William and Blair Schaefer, the coach's daughter -- were joined a year last by transfer Roshunda Johnson. Together, they were the nucleus of those great MSU teams, the one that set records and packed Humphrey Coliseum.
None of those players received any financial compensation for that, of course. The NCAA clings to its archaic policy that prohibits that, even though the players' talents produce millions for college athletics programs throughout the country.
Of that group of players, only Vivians, now in her rookie season in the WNBA, is being paid for her play.
No one in Starkville is likely to begrudge Vic Schafer's big pay-day. He's earned it.
But while scores of coaches in a variety of sports are making millions and universities are piling up cash based on the performance of its athletes, it's well past time to compensate the athletes, at least at a modest level.
College athletics is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that benefits from unpaid labor.
We've seen that before.
It was wrong then. It is no less wrong now.
The players are entitled to some form of compensation.