LSU revealed its swanky new locker rooms, complete with “sleeping pods,” on Sunday night and not everyone took the news as well as the current Tigers players.
LSU still has more reveals this week for its expensive renovation of its football facilities and former Tiger Eric Reid, currently with the Carolina Panthers, is already weighing in on how much money is in football programs while student-athletes remain uncompensated.
A look at LSU’s new locker rooms
LSU opened up its football facilities on Sunday night after a $28 million renovation 14 years after the building first opened. It’s an open format complete with sleeping pods for each player that feature iPod plug-ins for film and helmet plug-ins for the new technology.
The renovation was paid for by donations earmarked for it, including one from former Tigers star Tyrann Mathieu. The Kansas City Chiefs safety donated $1 million in 2016. There is a “Mathieu Players Lounge” named after him.
I HOPE I CAN INSPIRE AT LEAST ONE SOUL! MORE GLORY! GEAUX TIGERS!! pic.twitter.com/6z9H1eRNnb— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) July 22, 2019
The other 96 percent was fellow private donations via the Tiger Athletic Foundation fund for LSU student-athletes.
Panthers’ Eric Reid takes issue with excess
The reaction to the locker rooms, only the first reveal of the new facility, wasn’t all good. Reid played at LSU under Les Miles from 2010 to 2012 and his father, Eric Reid Sr., was also a student-athlete at LSU. He was the first Tiger to win the NCAA Division I 110-meter hurdles title in 1987.
The younger Reid, an outspoken advocate, tweeted his take on the new locker rooms.
The locker room when I was at LSU 7 years ago was better than the current one in Carolina. But there’s no money to compensate these young men for the revenue they bring to the school #JustSaying https://t.co/hlQtMy8dwd— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) July 22, 2019
Reid made the point that college football is a money-making business given the amount spent on fancy new digs and if it’s making so much money, the players should be receiving some of it. The “how” of it all makes his argument fuzzy, but he shifted to focus on getting kids scholarships.
Reid: Get kids scholarships, not fancy ‘pods’
Donations, grants and certain types of state money are given to schools for certain reasons or categorical projects. At LSU, the money was given for the renovations and therefore can’t be given to scholarships, which would be more along what Reid wanted.
To the point that the swanky addition was paid for by Mathieu’s donation, Reid answered that it’s “interesting” how much easier it is to convince donors to give to a facility that doesn’t need work rather than scholarships. And when former LSU and NFL running back Justin Vincent gave background to the decision by LSU, Reid said it should be about need.
I am well Justin. Hoping the same for you. It’s great that there’s an endowment put more money in it. Give more scholarships. I disagree that the facility was outdated. Ops pre renovation was more state of the art than virtually every place I’ve trained since leaving LSU. I know https://t.co/QlMOGtbNTT— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) July 22, 2019
there are folks who could use a scholarship more than our guys need a tv in their locker. Those who know me know the amount of love I have for LSU. This is too much though...— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) July 22, 2019
Reid was far from the only one associated with LSU to take issue with the fancy space. Students took issue with the team receiving so much while other programs have to beg. Another shared a photo of the library and asked why organizations such as the Tiger Athletic Foundation weren’t donating to academic pursuits.
And professors chimed in as well.
Meanwhile, across campus, I vacuum my faculty office with a Dust Devil I bought at Walmart. https://t.co/fsVSPhmsOO— Robert Mann (@RTMannJr) July 22, 2019
Locker rooms ‘why you come to LSU’
It is objectively correct that there are players more in need of a scholarship than a TV in their locker, as Reid said. And the library, which serves more students, may indeed be in worse shape than the previous locker rooms. But does LSU, and the donors who are flooding specifically the football program with cash, really care what players might “need more”?
The football Twitter account’s tweet, quoting a player in the video, said it all: “This is why you come to LSU.”
The clip shows players freaking out over the new digs, which is entirely the point. If you’re an 18-year-old kid with multiple offers, do you want to go to a school with drab old equipment or a program with sleeping pods?
And when it comes time for the best players to consider entering the NFL draft early, the Tigers now have a pull that Reid acknowledged many pro programs don’t have. Cornerback and SEC champion sprinter Kary Vincent made the point via LSU Sports’ official site.
“Everybody at LSU is staying all four years now! Maybe even five or six! Nobody’s leaving!”
The influx of cash to football programs from rich donors is far from an LSU problem. It’s system-wide, from high schools to college. Whether you view it as right or wrong, LSU wants to keep up with the big boys. From Clemson to even Northwestern, it’s an arms race of perks.
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