COLUMNS

Christmas comes early for me

Buz Livingston

Santa said I could open one present early, like writing about sports, if I included a financial angle. Well, that will not be a problem. As a kid, bowl season was a big deal; there were four games on New Year’s Day and a few others scattered over the holidays. Remember the Bluebonnet Bowl? In a way, New Year’s Day was sad, no more college football and school was about to start.

The Atlanta Journal/Constitution recently announced the post-season bowl swag the Jackets and Dawgs earned. I have a better idea; pay them cash. While a new pair of binoculars, part of the Georgia gift package, would be a good idea for me, most young adults would appreciate the do-re-mi. If I were in charge of the NCAA, all athletes would get paid equally. In 2015, the NCAA approved stipends based on cost of attendance, and the three schools in the nation with the highest cost of attendance were Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee. To me, Los Angeles would be more expensive so to minimize controversy pay everyone $1,000 per month as long as they are on scholarship.

Plus colleges should set aside an additional sum available in 10 years. Let’s face it; young men have a high likelihood of blowing it. It would take a US Revenue Code amendment, but these funds would go into tax-deferred accounts, similar to IRAs, but without the age 59 ½ distribution restriction. Investment options would be low-cost index funds similar to the Thrift Savings Plan. By instituting an individual retirement plan for athletes, they would learn the basics of retirement planning and investing. Give a man a fish; you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, he can feed himself.

Commissioner Livingston would also establish lifelong scholarships for student-athletes. Someone could enroll at age 30 or whenever and attend classes tuition-free. Ostensibly colleges are institutes for higher education, but athletes are working full-time, and everyone else is making big money except them. If universities can pay coaches huge salaries, they can figure out how to cover the guys doing the heavy lifting. At Georgia, Coach Smart gets $75,000 for going to the Liberty Bowl. While I love walking in Memphis, if universities can pay a coach so much for doing so little, then lifelong tuition-free college is no reach.

Commissioner Livingston would oppose any and all attempts to institute an expanded playoff system. Professional football players get paid quite well and play 16 games. An eight-team playoff plus a conference championship adds up to 16 games too, except the college athletes get paid a pittance compared to guys suiting up on Sunday. Like Spike Lee said, do the right thing.

You can’t always get what you want but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you find what you need. For specific recommendations visit us online at livingstonfinancial.net or come by our office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230.