Talk about your devil is in the details proposal…
The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to permit an additional season of competition and eligibility to all spring-sport athletes who were unable to complete the 2019-20 athletic year due to the coronavirus pandemic…
The financial aid flexibility gives schools the option to grant seniors equal or less financial aid than what they would have received in 2019-20. Schools have also been provided with the ability to tap into the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships of athletes returning for an additional year who otherwise would have seen their eligibility exhausted.
The NCAA did not specifically address issues regarding housing and meals for these athletes.
“The council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn, in a statement.
So, kids can stay and recover their lost season, but there’s no guarantee of any financial support if they do.
The cost of the scholarship is nominal, more like a bookkeeping entry, but schools do bear real expenses when it comes to items like room and board. How much will they contribute to support college athletes in non-revenue producing sports? Good question.
Ironically, the NCAA may help with that bookkeeping juggling act.
Of course, as Schwarz indicates, there’s nothing obligating a school to take that money and apply it to student expenses. Given the current tough times, that’s probably going to make for some interesting decisions at certain athletic departments.
Is this an early road map to the scenario schools dread pondering right now, the cancellation of the 2020 college football season? That’s an expensive proposition, even before you get to the prospect of giving athletes back a year of their careers.
College football as an enterprise accounted for $6.5 billion in revenue during the 2018-19 academic year, according to Andy Schwarz, a partner and consulting expert with California-based law firm OSKR. That’s an average of $51 million per school.
In general, 80 percent of FBS athletic budgets are made up of football revenue.
“Just the thought of it, I think we’re all thinking about [losing the season],” Georgia AD Greg McGarity said. “Now, what does that mean? That’s what is going to be defined here over the next two or three weeks.”
In the next two or three weeks? McGarity strikes me as being wildly optimistic there. I don’t see schools pulling the plug on their cash cow until the absolute last minute. Or to put it another way,
Twice in the last week, Sankey has referred somewhat cryptically to “contingency plans.” Asked to define those plans on “The Paul Finebaum Show,” Sankey said, “Not yet, simply because the focus is on next year as scheduled. … There will be a time to figure out what that means.”
They’ll be figuring until they can’t figure any more. And it’s a much tougher call than cancelling women’s track and field was. Again, that’s all before you even get to the question of what to do about football players who lose the 2020 season. Giving 70+ kids another year of athletic support when you face the loss of an enormous amount of revenue? Well, let’s just say I expect there will be a few places at least that won’t be justifying their decisions in that regard by saying they’re doing it for the kids.
Hint one about that?
Sorry, college basketball players.
Hint two? I’m already seeing suggestions cropping up to reduce the minimum requirement that Division I member institutions have to sponsor at least seven sports for men and seven for women to ten, total. When the money crunch comes, they’ll be taking a piece out of everyone’s hides.
Will conferences set a flat rule for all members, or in turn leave it to the discretion of each individual school? I have no idea, but you know Nick Saban has to be salivating at the thought of carrying a 100-scholarship roster.