Former college football star talks about possible NCAA changes

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PHOENIX -- The NCAA is looking to change college athletics. One of the big topics of debate is whether to pay the athletes. The idea being if they have enough to live on, they won't break the rules selling tickets or memorabilia.

One former Division 1 athlete says it may help, but the temptation to make big money won't go away.

College football has always been big business, but the TV contracts written over the past 10 months have been out of this world. The PAC-12 alone will bring in $225 million a year starting next season.

“I don't know what the checks are these days,” Paul Green said, “but when I played, it was barely enough to cover rent and that was in a shabby place.”

Green was an All-American tight end for USC in the mid-'80s followed by an eight-year NFL career. He now owns Body Lab in Phoenix. We asked him to give us some perspective on the life of the Division 1 student athlete, a life some people would call a free ride with a degree at the end.

“You can't get a job like a normal student because you flat-out don't have time,” he said. "You go from a morning session of lifting weights to class, to practice, to watching film after practice, and then you got to go and study.”

Green said while the schools are raking in millions, college athletes, even football stars, have just enough for the basics. He said breaking the rules for extra cash was everywhere when he played and he suspects it is still the same.

“Everybody and I mean everybody, including myself, sold your Rose Bowl tickets,” Green said. “You would go meet somebody and get a check for $4,000 or cash.”

On Monday, NCAA President Mark Emmert publicly proposed giving college athletes up to $2,000 more a year to discourage those kinds of deals.

Green believes it is a step in the right direction but likely won’t change the lure of big money.

The NCAA Division 1 Board of Directors meets Thursday and will consider Emmert’s proposals, which also includes raising academic standards for teams playing in the post-season.