The Debate Continues: Should Student-Athletes Scholarship Awards Be Increased?

Posted: June 2, 2011 in Robert J. Romano

With the “Tattoo Parlor Scandale”, Reggie Busch returning his Heisman Trophy since he and his family decided his service to USC was worth more than the scholarship amount he was receiving, and Cam Newton’s father attempting to sell his son’s services to the highest college bidder, the big question colleges and universities need to ponder is whether or not they need to increase the value of athletic scholarships to include to the total cost of attendance at a college or university in an effort to curtail some of these violations.

It only seems right since the NCAA and its member institutions generate billions of dollars in revenue from the sale of its product (that being student-athletes) on merchandise, ticket sales, bowl revenue, March Madness, and TV rights.  In using the NFL Players Association argument:  the fans come out to see the players, not he NCAA president or the Commissioners of the different conferences  (the individuals that earn millions of dollars in salary every year), so shouldn’t the players get a bigger piece of the pie.

The big question is how can this be done and done fairly so that small-budget schools can keep up with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, (Columbia), and Notre Dame.

“Cost of attendance comes with all sorts of complications,” said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. “The cost of attendance will vary at certain institutions. If it’s $5,000 here and $2,000 there, how does that get into recruiting?”

Some believe, at the least, extra scholarship money should be provided to the football and men’s basketball players since those two sports generate a significant amount of revenue for their college or university.  But what about the non-revenue sport athlete?

“There was a recognition that you can’t just do it in the revenue-producing sports without doing it at least with the same number of female student-athletes,” Commissioner Beebe said.

“If you start thinking in terms of, `Well, these are the kids that bring in all the money and we need to give them more money,’ it’s hard for me to think that makes sense,” said Oklahoma faculty representative Connie Dillon. “How are you saying that’s not pay for play?”

“We’re for it,” said Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds. “It’s a positive thing and I think doing something for student-athletes is a positive thing.  The reality of being able to do it, it’s hard. Maybe 10 percent of athletic budgets are in the black. So if you go cost of living, that’s another, let’s say million dollars, that’s got to come from somewhere. Probably got to come from the academic side. It’s not a good time to take money from the academic side for athletes. The reality of making it happen, I think, is pretty hard to figure.  I think we’d vote for something to help kids.  A lot of people would. But I think most wouldn’t because they don’t have the resources. And you don’t want to take money out of the academic side.”

Dodds estimates it would cost the Longhorns about $1 million to take every scholarship to full cost of attendance.  However, he does not think this concept would curtail any of the NCAA scandals that are currently making headlines.  “Absolutely not. If somebody’s going to do that, they’re going to do that.”

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