James Franklin’s already laid down the marker about cost of attendance.
“There’s going to be much more awareness of it and people are going to be using it,” Penn State coach James Franklin recently told USA Today. “The (schools) that are above other (schools) in terms of the amount of aid they’re going to be able to give, they’re going to be throwing that number around. For anybody to think this won’t be a factor in the process next year is being really naïve.”
One man’s naiveté is another’s concern that there’s going to be all sorts of misinformation out there on the recruiting trail.
Each school’s financial aid office determines estimated expenses outside of tuition, room and board each year. Those numbers can vary based on several factors including cost of living in the area in question. And the legislation will allow each school to compensate athletes based on its particular formula, rather than impose a hard number for everyone to follow.
That’s a concern for those who worry that the coaches with bigger COA numbers will use them on the recruiting trail – and that recruiting considerations might inflate COA numbers. And Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis was concerned Wednesday when he caught wind of speculative numbers that are starting to circulate.
“They aren’t accurate,” he said.
That doesn’t mean seekers of truth like Franklin won’t use what they’ve got now, does it? And what Franklin’s got is some favorable media speculation.
In a story on cost of attendance, David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News included a ranking of 2014-15 allowances for miscellaneous expenses by Big Ten universities, put together by CollegeData.com. Jones wrote in the story that these aren’t necessarily projections of the athletic scholarship COA stipends that go into effect next year, but Internet panic often doesn’t have time for the details.
The CollegeData.com rankings show Penn State at the top of the Big Ten with $4,788 in stipend allowance, and MSU at the bottom with $1,872. Michigan ranks 12th in the CollegeData.com list at $2,054. Northwestern ($2,326) and Minnesota ($2,194) are located in or near big cities yet added together don’t reach Penn State’s number.
The Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette recently listed projections for 2015-16 Big Ten stipends and listed Penn State first for in-state full scholarship athletes ($5,748 a year), U-M 10th ($2.452) and MSU 13th ($2,132). For out-of-state athletes, Penn State had the same number, with MSU ranking 10th ($2,870) and U-M 11th ($2,452).
The reality is, MSU doesn’t know yet what it will give its scholarship athletes for a COA stipend in the 2015-16 school year.
There will be more credible information, of course, as schools will have to disclose the actual stipend amounts they’ll pay. And that’s when the fun will really begin.
Holllis and his colleagues don’t determine cost of attendance. The universities do. But he said he’s aware of the potential for inequality and for this to be another budgetary “escalating factor.”
“We’re gonna work within the rules of the game,” Hollis said, “but we’re gonna position ourselves so we can provide our student-athletes with reasonable, comparable and competitive resources.”
Reasonable? Good luck with that. When it comes to spending, if there’s one thing big time college football doesn’t do well, it’s reasonable.