Old-Time College Football Booster Gets Wistful About Paying Players

Roy Adams, an infamous booster in SEC country, thinks the game has changed of late and that the players and boosters don't have the same relationship. He thinks the players want too much money. Don't get Adams wrong, he'd probably still give it to them and brag about it, but it's just not as quaint as it used to be.

“Today you give a kid a Chevrolet, and he wants a Cadillac,” Adams said. “You give them $1,000, they want two or three. It’s not the same as it used to be.”

The New York Times recently spent a weekend with Adams, a Tennessee alum who was investigated by the NCAA for sponsoring a recruiting trip to the University of Houston in the 80s and was even asked by his own alma mater to keep his distance because he was more than happy to stand outside his hotel room and grease players' hands (and even happier to tell you about it). What is ostensibly a profile of a college football viewing party for college football hangers on, becomes the 75-year-old booster's platform to thumb his nose at the NCAA.

Between anecdotes about the huge kitchen he built and the cooks he hires each week to feed the parties, there are tales of the back-room dealings he engaged in during what Paul Finebaum calls "a more romantic time." Here is a wall full of signed pictures from politicians and college football illuminati. Here are 36 televisions. Here's a story about sending money to Cortez Kennedy while at Miami. There's a picture of Nick Saban hanging over Richard Nixon. "'I’m a friend to all athletes, everywhere,' he said, beaming."

Adams estimates he paid $400,000 to players in his life, but never at the direction of any one school. He was an equal-opportunity gifter so, to his mind, everything was legit. And he loved it. The more you read, the more you get the feeling that Adams thought he was the rock star, not the athletes he was paying.

Late in the afternoon, a graphic flashed on one of the televisions showing the seven straight national championships won by SEC teams. Adams’s eyes gleamed as he chanted, “S-E-C! S-E-C!”

“All this — the parties, the friends, the football,” said Pete Story, a local high school coach. “I think it’s what keeps Roy alive.”

It's impossible to tell if it's sad or hilarious, but he does have a pretty sweet bachelor pad.

Photo credit: Getty

Booster Proud of His Largess and Game-Day Parties [NYT]