The NCAA and University administrators are finally opening their eyes and are willing to discussing the concept of providing student-athletes with a ‘cost of attendance’ scholarship rather than an ‘academic’ scholarship. Cost of attendance scholarships provide for additional funding which cover an NCAA Division I athlete’s full cost of attendance—the money above and beyond just what’s paid to the university. Athletic scholarships currently cover tuition, fees, room, board and books, but not transportation, clothing, laundry, entertainment and incidentals.
Advocates indicate that some academic scholarships cover full cost of attendance and that athletes deserve the same, especially in light of the money and exposure they bring to their schools.
But what still needs to be researched his how this concept could be implemented without inviting abuses, whether colleges afford the costs of additional funding to student-athletes, Title IX issues, and whether it would create a divide between the haves and have-nots which is already prevalent in college athletics.
NCAA President Mark Emmert and Commissioners of the six conferences have indicated that the idea of increasing the value of an athletic scholarships merits study.
One of the biggest questions is how conferences will decide whether to use a uniform dollar amount or to allow the amount estimated to be determined by each school. Per the latter, if a school provides more money for discretionary spending than another school, the first school may have a recruiting advantage.
A second will be whether football and men’s basketball players should receive extra money because their sports are the ones that produce the most revenue. However, Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools, weakens such position.
The third question will be how much will it cost the colleges and schools. For those schools with 145 full scholarships, and using $3,000 as the per-athlete figure, it could cost an athletic department an extra $435,000 per year. (This figure will be less, of course, at schools that do not have football teams.)
However, Creighton University Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen said he’s against increasing the size of scholarships. NCAA rules allow qualifying athletes to receive need-based aid, and low-income student-athletes can receive up to $5,500 in federal Pell Grant money. Athletes also have the option of working in the summer and during the school year.
“Kids aren’t as hard up as they’d like you to believe they are,” Rasmussen said.
One question for Mr. Rasmussen: Are you for real?