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.
… 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?