Okay, we’re far from that, but this proposal, from a regent at the University of Minnesota, no less, is a pretty reasonable bridge the gap idea.
… I believe that if the NCAA wants to continue mandating amateurism while asserting that competitive equity is at stake, then it should allow the total compensation received by athletes at any school within a conference to be equal to the highest-value full ride within the same conference. Better still, the NCAA could permit total allowable compensation for every athlete in the nation to equal that of whichever school is the most expensive in a given year. (Northwestern’s full ride was the most expensive among all Division I schools in 2017-2018.) Either way, it sets a benchmark that reflects the current economic realities of college and short-circuits both the overt bidding wars that the NCAA professes to fear and the secret ones that it pretends not to know about.
Schools are already paying out COA stipends, so there’s nothing there that runs afoul of current NCAA rules and regs. It’s just a massive equalization of the payout. Simple, yet elegant.
He’s flexible about how the shell the money out, too.
The easiest method would be via cash payments—just increase the size of the cost of living stipends that athletes already receive and have the NCAA and its member schools declare that hunky-dory under the ever-shifting definition of amateurism. If they find that objectionable, they could always equalize compensation in other ways. How about tuition for graduate education? Or, if education really is as important as the NCAA claims, by placing deferred compensation into trust funds that athletes could access following graduation or upon the completion of a minimum number of credit hours.
Worth an honest debate, if such a thing is possible, anyway.