You know, I almost get the feeling it’s harder to figure out how to pay student-athletes than it is to actually pay them.
Universities annually list a higher actual cost of attending college beyond an athletic scholarship. It’s based on miscellaneous expenses that differ by school. A 2012 study found that out-of-pocket expenses for a full-scholarship FBS athlete ranged from $1,000 a year to $6,904 a year, depending on the school. The average NCAA gap is now around $3,500.
Just within the Big 12, the cost-of-attendance number per athlete ranges from approximately $2,000 to $5,000, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said. That raises the question of whether conferences will mandate cost of attendance within their league, or allow each member to decide.
“I think you’ve got to allow the schools to make their own decisions,” Hocutt said. “Although within a certain league we have certain similarities and shared interests, we are all different and have different scopes and sizes of our budgets and resources.”
Hocutt supports cost of attendance stipends for every Texas Tech athlete. “I don’t know how it cannot be across the board — for Title IX and also because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Not everyone has the Big 12’s resources. In the Mountain West Conference, cost of attendance would cost its schools between $400,000 to $600,000 a year if it’s a flat $2,000 stipend, commissioner Craig Thompson said. If it’s a full cost of attendance, the figure would go up.
“Everybody does cost of attendance differently,” Thompson said. “Some compute it and add this category and others don’t … That’s going to be the first big issue: Do we do it as a conference or as an institution?”
If schools do it as a group, that opens up another can of worms.
The Division I Board of Directors in 2011 passed a $2,000 cost-of-attendance stipend, only to see NCAA members override the proposal. It’s questionable whether a flat stipend could be used this time. Every FBS conference is being sued for allegedly violating antitrust laws by capping the value of scholarships. Another try at a flat stipend could be viewed by the courts as a different version of a cap.
In 2008, the NCAA settled a federal antitrust lawsuit over the same issue of miscellaneous expenses.
Hell, maybe Jeffrey Kessler’s doing the schools a favor with his lawsuit.