NCAA Moving Toward Stipends For Athletes

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NCAA Moving Toward Stipends For Athletes January 7, 2013 7:41 AM

The NCAA Convention starts Jan. 16 in Dallas, and the money will be on the table so to speak.

Money for athletes that raise money for their schools? Some will say its about time, and others will say its all wrong.

The rediculous television revenue generated by college sports, and the work put in by the players have shaped the debate on whether or not the athletes should receive some form of compensation for their efforts.

While the value of an athletic scholarship has never been higher, the money being made by the schools has gone through the roof. NCAA Bowl money anyone? March Madness? The success of last years Frozen Four? Oh yeah, and how about the new NCAA Football playoffs starting in 2014 that will nearly double the revenue generated by the NCAA Schools?

NCAA President Mark Emmert believes it is time for a change.

While Emmert makes a distinction between the $2,000 stipend he has proposed and play-for-pay athletics, he vigorously advocates for giving student athletes a larger cut of a pie that is growing every year.

In October 2011, the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors approved a rule change that would give colleges the option of providing athletes with a $2,000 stipend for expenses not covered by scholarships. But many schools objected to the policy, and last January, the board delayed its implementation.

The old argument was that a scholarship provided enough benefit. And while there is wide variation, depending on the college and major, there is little doubt among those who study the issue that a bachelor’s degree is a huge economic boon, even for those who have to borrow to pay for it.

As the NCAA prepares for an April unveiling of a need-based stipend plan, the issue could become yet another dividing line between the haves and have nots. Smaller schools vs bigger schools and the recruiting advantages that larger schools may have because they have more money to pay a stipend.

Recruiting could become a challenge. If a player has the option between an extra $2,000 a year at a big school or the promise of more playing time at a smaller school offering a traditional scholarship, it will be interesting to see how that athlete makes a decision.

The maximum number of scholarships per Division I school is 206.9, according to the NCAA, which works out to $413,800 per year if every athlete were be provided a stipend. For a larger school that is nothing to add to their annual budget. Looking at the salary’s being given out to college coaches these days schools have little room to argue that they cant afford to pay the stipend.

The beauty of the proposal is that every NCAA athlete will be treated the same. It doesnt matter if you are a football player, hockey player or volleyball player. Equality in sports. Yes, the same money would be available to female student athletes that would be available to the male athletes.

Basing the stipend on "demonstrated need" is the key. The exact formula has yet to be developed, but some have suggested that Athletes apply for money through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or by calculating stipend payments based on family contributions. Most likely a need based application will be approved due to family contributions constantly changing from year to year, and fair estimations can not always be made.

Once approved by the board of directors, a 60-way window opens for schools to request an override and if more than 75 schools request the override (like the last proposal), the plan would be sent back to the NCAA for reconsideration. If less than 75 schools override the proposal, the plan is voted on by all Division I schools.

While some things may never change it looks as though the NCAA is about to make a change that is long overdue. If schools value their coaches enough to pay them millions of dollars per year, isnt it about time the athletes that make the program receive enough to live on?

By Joseph Kolodziej

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