After decades when paying college athletes was thought to violate the spirit of amateurism, the enormous television revenue generated by sports — football and basketball in particular — and the long hours of work by the players have changed the debate.
The head of the NCAA now supports a stipend for athletes to cover costs beyond tuition, books and fees, and both coaches in Monday's BCS championship between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama spoke in support of the idea in the days before the game.
The question is no longer whether to cut athletes a check, it's how best to do that.
"I still think the overriding factor here is that these young men put in so much time with being a student and then their responsibilities playing the sport, that they don't have an opportunity to make any money at all," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Sunday.
"I want them to be college kids, and a stipend will continue to allow them to be college kids."