“It’s a game-changing issue.”
Essentially, cost-of-attendance is a way for major schools to provide stipends to athletes without calling it an outright payment for services. It’s a reaction to several court rulings against the NCAA, including the Ed O’Bannon case, which have challenged whether college athletics are really amateur. The athletes bring in so much money, they should get a cut, lawyers have argued, and courts have agreed.
But not every school has the resources to provide stipends. So last year, the NCAA gave autonomy to the so-called power five conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12) to make their own rules. The schools have moved to do so for this coming school year.
The devil, however, is in the details.
“I think when cost-of-attendance came out and it was gonna be $2,000 across the board, it seemed like a good plan, and it made sense,” Georgia football head coach Mark Richt said. “That was in everyone’s mind, ‘Let’s get this cost-of-attendance thing going,’ because everybody visualized it being that very thing. Then it became something different than that, and it became a concern for a lot of people to have the equity involved in that area.”
Georgia’s cost-of-attendance has been set at $3,221 per year. That’s broken down as $2,346 for “miscellaneous living expenses” and $875 for transportation costs. The miscellaneous expenses include estimated costs for items such as clothing, laundry, cleaning supplies and a “communications package.” The information is culled from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, according to Georgia compliance director Jim Booz.
Georgia’s transportation cost is an estimated average calculated by assuming four trips per semester from Warner Robins, since it is a mid-point for in-state students. For out-of-state students, it’s a round-trip plane ticket to Chicago, chosen for its central location.
But Auburn calculates its cost-of-attendance at $5,684, according to its school website. Georgia estimates it is in the middle among SEC schools.
Why the difference? And how does each school calculate it? Well, that’s unresolved and something the SEC will seek to resolve in Destin, Florida, at its summer meetings.
“There’s nothing that I’ve seen that says this is how everybody computes it,” Richt said. “Everybody computes it in their own way.”
Making Jay Jacobs spell out Auburn’s fuzzy math should be a real treat. Any guesses on where the typical Auburn student hails from?