Mike Slive’s next problem

Okay, now that it’s fine for schools to pay student-athletes’ cost of attendance in full, it should be smooth sailing, right?

Not so fast, bacon breath.  John Infante points out the obvious:  cost of attendance not only varies from conference to conference, it varies from school to school.  Here are his calculations for the SEC:

– Alabama: $3,298
– Arkansas: $4,002
– Auburn: $5,586
– Florida: $3,320
– Georgia: $1,798
– Kentucky: $3,536
– LSU: $3,680
– Mississippi: $4,500
– Mississippi State: $5,126
– Missouri: $3,664
– South Carolina: $4,151
– Tennessee: $5,666
– Texas A&M: $3,100
– Vanderbilt: $2,730

*Vanderbilt only gives “varies” for travel allowance so it was not included.

Note the pretty massive spread between Georgia and Tennessee there.

Infante’s conclusion?

… There is no way this will fly. Not only do some schools offer more than others, but there is no rhyme or reason to why one is greater than the other. Why are travel, clothing, entertainment, and other personal expenses more than twice as expensive in Knoxville, TN as in Los Angeles, CA? Why an over $600 difference between the two Los Angeles schools.

But at the same time, the options for doing so are very limited. The power conferences have one way to normalize cost of attendance across all 65 schools: let every school go up to the highest cost of attendance figure, which in this case is Tennessee’s $5,666.

But that has its own set of problems. First, many schools would then be permitted to exceed cost of attendance, some by thousands of dollars. Not only is that philosophically troubling for the NCAA, it also complicates matters with financial aid offices. If a portion of an athletic scholarship exceeds cost of attendance and is not paid through the financial aid office, what is but payment for services rendered?

Second, this would be massively more expensive than some schools were likely planning for. Tennessee’s number is almost twice as much as the Pac–12’s average. A school like Iowa State, already worried about paying for COA scholarships would see the cost go up by more than $3,000 per full scholarship equivalency. At that point, the divide between the haves, the have-mores, and the real elite would begin to show quickly and clearly.

And finally, it does not solve the perceived imbalance of giving athletes the same living allowance across the country when the cost of living varies wildly among the cities where these 65 schools are located.

My bet is after a tremendous amount of infighting, they fall back on the default of letting each school set its own number.  It’ll be just like letting everyone come up with their own drug policies. Hey, what could go wrong with that?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

40 responses to “Mike Slive’s next problem

  1. @gatriguy

    One of many things about UT that just doesn’t feel right.

  2. Macallanlover

    I said earlier when this conversation began, schools should provide tuition, books, shelter, and food….”free” is the same everywhere, no variance. Spending money for gas, pizza, movies, clothes, etc., doesn’t vary enough nationally to be significant…..set a flat rate and adhere to or be punished for violations.

    • So Infante’s calculations are wrong?

      Shouldn’t the bottom line be that no S-A comes out of pocket even a penny for the privilege of playing revenue generating sports?

      • Macallanlover

        If you stick to “basics” on housing and food, yes. Student athletes should not be afforded the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Everyone gets a fixed cost dorm room, free tuition and books, and 3 squares a day. Spending money for Wendy’s Exxon, Papa John’s, Comcast, and a current movie theater just does not vary that much. Forget the “cost of living” BS being used. College students do not live in penthouses, eat at 5 star restaurants. drive BMWs play golf at Pebble Beach, attend Broadway plays, and no school should pay for them to do so. You have traveled, those items just don’t vary that much across the country, the silliness of Knoxville versus Athens should show how sleazy the games are going to be on this issue if someone doesn’t take control ASAP.

      • Having lived in both Columbia SC and Athens GA as a student, I didn’t see anywhere near the disparity in my cost of living as Infante has in his numbers.

        • Governor Milledge

          My experience was that rent was more expensive in SC. You can get a 1BR apartment in Columbia’s 5 Points for ~$600, versus one off of Bloomfield for $400-450. Drinks also on average seemed cheaper in Athens

      • James

        “So Infante’s calculations are wrong?”

        I’m going to go with yes, or maybe “n/a, not valuable information.” His number is 90% travel costs. All he’s doing here is arbitrarily picking one of a set of different travel numbers schools publish, which obviously vary widely depending on the average logistical issues of each school’s student body and campus location, and each school’s method of dealing with that problem.

        Plus like you said, they’re just going to set a max and every school is going to offer it for competitive reasons. I think it’s going to be very obvious very fast that Minnesota (one of his poor brother schools) is going to be able to take on a standard-across-conference COA stipend in exchange for the massively bigger standard-across-conference TV revenue payment. I don’t know that Minnesota upsets the apple cart over the $1,000/player.

    • Gaskilldawg

      Setting a flat rate and making schools adhere to it was the antio-trust violation the Judge found. Up until now the NCAA did exacty what you propose. It set a flat rate for covering the difference between the costs covered by the grant in aid asnd the actual cost of attendance. The NCAA set that flat rate at $0.00. The setting of a flat rate at some other amount still violates the Sherman Anti-trust Act. Why would any NCAA school vote for a chaneg that clearly still violates the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and would result in treble damages to each athlete?

      • You don’t think a rate could be set on a conference-by-conference basis and not violate antitrust?

        • Gaskilldawg

          The Judge did not make a ruling as to conferences setting a rate; the issue was the NCAA setting the rate. Perhaps conferences could but if conferences can the Big 10 flat rate could exceed the SEC flat rate.

          The easier way out for the NCAA is a solution that would make some folks’ heads explode. The reason why the NFL and NBA can make salary slots is because those are products of collective bargaining. If the NCAA allowed the players to form a collective bargaining association then it could negotiate a flat rate. However, some folks have such a visceral reaction to anything that looks like a union they would rather the NCAA figure out how to deal witht eh anti-trust thicket.

  3. Erskine

    Auburn AD Jay Jacobs has hired the Jethro Bodine accounting firm to do some ciphering so they can add a few more digits onto their total.

  4. Disagree Senator
    There is no way they can permit a competitive advantage to go to one school over another. If I truly am one of the “disadvantaged ” athletes and one school is giving me 4 grand a year more to go to UT as opposed UGA I will respond rationally to that incentive and I go to UT. More money equals better players, just ask the Yankees. The SEC will compromise between the extremes.I’m more interested in what cost of living got left out of UGA’s calculation to come up with the lowest number.

    • If you pick a number that leaves a kid at one school coming out of pocket while kids at other schools are coming out whole, isn’t that a competitive disadvantage?

      • that assumes these kids have good, valid,current and understandable information. They don’t and won’t. They will go with the highest $. Take it to the bank. These are not econ majors in HS

        • I don’t think conditions leading to some kids coming out of pocket and some not is something that will stay under the radar for long. If nothing else, it’ll be terrific fodder for the recruiting trail.

  5. Cousin Eddie

    UT and Auburn add in Court cost and legal fees, UF does not add legal fees as they are free by Huntley Johnson, UGA does not include theses cost in “cost of attendance.” This is the only way I can see such a discrepancy.

    That or McG is protecting his reserve funds by low balling out the gate.

  6. DawgPhan

    I love that every step toward progress there are always people who continue to want their pound of flesh.

    These guys and all the guys before them have paid their pound of flesh, the idea of that some one you still want to take something from a bunch of 20 years that you get so much enjoyment from is very weird. Be happy for these guys and girls. Their sacrifice to the greater glory of the University will no longer leave them burdened with debt while the university hoards it’s reserve fund.

    Their sacrifice is on the fields and in the classroom and they have a very valuable skill. We should be allowing these young men and women to learn how to make a living, how to earn what you are worth.

    When they turn pro in something other than football these will be valuable lessons and they can start their lives without thousands of dollars in debt.

    What better way to reward their service?

    • Cojones

      Can’t disagree with the sentiment, but the point was, and still is, how to do this thing equitably? Unless that was solved ahead of time, I didn’t want to get to this conundrum evidenced by the question, “How?”. This is asinine; to do the “feel good”, but not put it into motion.

      As many times as I have asked, this time I ask everyone: How would you implement the feel good sentiment that will become a problem for a much longer period than it will take to implement?

      This is also to the point of being cruel to players’s expectations.

      • DawgPhan

        Equitably to who? The schools? The conference, the coaches or the players? If you are doing it for the players then it is simple. If you want to make it fair to the schools, that is different.

        Making things fair when you clearly identify who you want things to be fair for isnt difficult. Making things fair when you say you want to help one party, but really want to protect another is difficult.

        You keep asking that same tired question…and people keep answering it, and you keep ignoring it.

        • Cojones

          The answer has been in generalities just as you have answered. I think we are getting into details now (if I read the article correctly) and that has not been answered (except in generalities).

      • Gaskilldawg

        The O’Bannon rulng was not about making a group feel good. It was a ruling about whether the NCAA violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Judge ruled that the NCAA did violate the act. The Judge provided a remedy that does not violate the anti-trust laws. The Judge did not stay the ruling if appealed meaning that it is likely that the NCAA and its members have to live with the remedy Judge Wilken ordered for at least a couple of years until the matter may be resolved omn appeal.

        Therefore, either the NCAA adapts while it fights in the appellate coruts and in congress or it settles with the plaintiffs. The Judge would have to approve the settlement. If the NCAA settles the settlement will have to comply with the anti-trust laws. Meaning, for the next couple of years the NCAA cannot act as if the Sherman Act does not govern the issue of compensation for the names, images and likenesses of players.

        The NCAA cannot ignore federal law whether fans like the law or not. That said, what would you propose the NCAA do regarding the names, images and likenesses of players that does not violate the Sherman Act?

        • GATA

          Copy / paste from an earlier post I made that addresses your specific question: Given this ruling, why wouldn’t the NCAA, the conferences, or the schools themselves consider establishing a royalty licensing model similar to MLB, NBA, or the NFL? Their model involves a pool of money spent on officially licensed merchandise being equally split between all participants. This could also alleviate the Title 9 (if taken far enough) and “what about the long-snapper” concerns. The professional players do not care about their individual jersey sales (that much). They only want more fans buying officially licensed jerseys (and other items) as they all will benefit. The bullpen pitcher is compensated on jersey sales of the starting pitcher and closer. If NIL’s are able to fall under the $5,000 floor being discussed; calculate the aggregate spent, divide a portion among the athletes, and compensate them for the use of their NIL. In addition, this would (1) preserve the existing reserve funds and (2) operational budgets as the compensation would cut only into profits from ancillary fan purchases. While only a few players would move the retail sales needle meaningfully, all involved stand to benefit equally. Gurley wouldn’t be Gurley without his OL. Teams would not win if blocks are missed, punts are blocked due to bad snaps, or punt-safe resulted in yet another fumble lost. More merchandise is sold when teams succeed. Allow each school to customize any (sport) jersey with any name and number combination. I’m not sure if this could / should be done at the NCAA, conference, or school level. Depending on whose side you are arguing, there are pros and cons to each delineation. This model serves the team (and protects other revenue sources) better than any other I have heard / read being discussed.

          • GaskillDawg

            The NCAA cannot do it without a collective bargaining agreement with the owners of the names, images and likenesses. MLB, the NBA and the NFL can negotiate those things with their players’ associations.

            The NCAA does not want a players’ association so it does not want to have a method of setting levels of benefits to players. Contrast the NFL. The NFL wants the NFL players to certify a union because it is easier to make one bargain with one group that it is to make multiple bargains.

          • Cojones

            Thank you GATA. An attempt at an answer is easier to rely on than just good sentiment. That’s a helluva lot closer than anything I’ve seen as to “How?”.

    • Rp

      There is no sacrifice here. Merely an opportunity and a privelege that most people would be greatful for. If it’s such a sacrafice, what are the walk ons doing out there and why does every high school player in the country dream of playing D1 football.

      On a seperate note, once schools can pay the athletes’ cost of living Auburn and Bama’s COL will suddenly become $30,000 per year.

      • DawgPhan

        Lots of people dream of being D1 players, what separates them? Sacrifice. Effort. Skill. The same things that make anyone valuable. Those players who didnt work hard enough, didn’t sacrifice enough, didnt make it to their dream.

        Most people would be grateful for a D1 scholarship because most people didnt earn a D1 scholarship and it would be a gift. Players at UGA and every other big time program earned those scholarships through dedicate, commitment, hard work, effort, and sacrifice.

        Anyone can say that they would have loved to be a football player at UGA, but they didnt work hard enough to earn it. They wanted someone to give it to them.

  7. Eagledawg

    Random thought – how much, if any, of this would be taxable to the student (sic) athelete??? IRS may be salivating ….

    • DawgPhan

      Probably not much of it.


      and this has been gone over and over and over and over.

      Again, it’s weird that folks like you keep thinking of ways to try and punish someone for earning a living performing a skilled task.

      • Cojones

        “earn” and “living”are derived into “Earnings”. I wouldn’t think there would be a choice.

      • Rp

        Wait, so these guys receive more compensation and benefits from the universtiy for playing football than the average american makes per year and you are fine with them not being taxed? If they want to be professionals then it works both ways.

        • DawgPhan

          It’s not me that doesnt want them taxed, it is that the IRS and Congress have decided that scholarships are tax free income. No one pays taxes on scholarships. Why would athletic scholarships any different?

          • Cojones

            Yet student teaching/lab assistant pay that is intended to defray COL for your Grad academic “athletes” is taxable. You are teaching lab for the benefit of the University and it is taxable but when it is considered a part of your program for graduation, it isn’t taxable. The Head of my dept made it a requirement to teach for those not on full or partial scholarship. and sent a copy of the IRS ruling to all Grad students in his Dept. such that we submitted copies with our tax returns. Otherwise, we would have been taxed.

        • If they want to be professionals then it works both ways.

          You feel the same way about the schools?

  8. What are the differences? I guess I am not seeing why it could be different…

    Does pizza and movie costs vary that much in the South?

    • Cojones

      Depending upon local, weather and growers’s sense of risk/reward, the price of pot could vary immensely. Haven’t you heard of the players coming to Georgia to buy the cheaper stuff? It’s definitely worth the trip if you’re getting $2000 more in Al and Tn to spend. Just ask any player from Aub/Ala/Tenn.

  9. 69Dawg

    Boy oh boy I never knew it was so cheap to live in Athens. I can’t remember that from my time or my son’s. Who knew Auburn was so expensive. Once again Coach Richt fines himself getting screw in recruiting by his own AD. It’s tough working for UGA.

  10. whaUGA904

    So, the COA is comprised of tuition, books, room, food, and every day living expenses, correct? I understand that these kids are offering up their services for a good that is in high demand and therefore their service brings in a ton of money but, I really hope that the “living expenses” stipend doesn’t get out of hand. I feel like it will erase the parity in college football if the “have’s” end up being able to offer thousands of dollars more than the “have not’s” and the upsets delivered by mid-major programs would become extinct. Now, I’m in no way a socialist but, there has got to be some kind of limit for the “have’s” and/or some assistance from the NCAA and the “have’s” given to the “have not’s” in order to keep this part of football alive. I understand how the SA is ultimately being screwed in our current format but, I’m afraid of what college football may become if there aren’t restrictions and/or assistance for the mid-majors and lower revenue programs in the 65. I love this game so much and don’t want to see it change into something resembling the NFL. Of course, it would make college fantasy football better if there was just 30-40 teams that were in their own league. But that is what the NFL has and is the #1 reason I end up watching regular season NFL games. So, please Lord, keep college football the same.

    • DawgPhan

      Why do you hate freedom and America?

      just kidding. UGA is a have. Who cares what happens to mid majors. They have been suckling at the larger schools teet for too long. Time for them to stop being takers and start being makers.

      • whaUGA904

        So, if you’re not “born” into the upper class then there is no use in trying to better yourself so you can compete with and be in the upper echelon. They should just accept where they are and stay there?

        Why, sir, do YOU hate freedom and America?

        I’m just kidding too but, I personally don’t want to see the day where if a program isn’t already a “have” then, it never will be. We shouldn’t put more obstacles in the way of an already tough mountain climb. I thank my lucky stars that UGA’s already a “have” but, I think the more there are, the better.