For Mark Richt, as a member of the newly hatched NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee, that header indicates what would be his first order of business. As someone duking it out with his peers on the recruiting trail, his frustration is understandable.
When addressing fans later, Richt said: “I’m not too thrilled about that some schools are going to be able than others. At least it looks that way right this moment.”
The problem is, of course, the NCAA knows it can’t be involved in the price-fixing business. Even Mark Emmert’s had a two-by-four whomped up against his head enough to realize that now.
Cost of attendance remains a hot-button topic among universities, particularly in the idea that such a measure, if adopted, would widen the gap between resource-heavy athletic departments and their smaller counterparts.
“Some schools are going to have to decide, do we want to allow full COA in our conference,” Emmert said. “And then individual schools will have to decide, are we going to go that high?”
That’s right, kids. A conference could choose a limit to impose on its members. A school can choose a limit on its own. It’s just a universal ceiling that’s a no-no.
You know who sounds like he understands that? The incoming SEC commissioner:
“We’re going to be attentive of to the legal outcomes,” said Sankey, addressing concern over potential recruiting advantages that could come as a result of COA. “But at the extent that we can help with implementation at the conference level, we’ll do that as appropriate.
“Those recruiting decisions have always been made on a lot of issues and people can cite why [an athlete] chose a particular school or coach, facilities, geography, television exposure. You mentioned another component that certainly could be a part of that conversation.”
But COA impacts far more than student athletes. The number, which is determined by each university’s financial aid officers and then published to school websites, is often used to help determine how much aid students can receive to attend school.
“We understood the realities that there are cost-of-attendance differentials on our campuses,” Sankey said. “That’s the way the Higher Education Act is formed and our institutions have had that flexibility over a number of years.
“Moving forward, we obviously have the requirement that we’re going to comply with litigation outcomes, as we understand those outcomes; make sure we frame properly the implementation that is consistent with the Higher Education Act.”
There are two things to pull from there. One, Sankey’s already talked to the lawyers. Two, there are tradeoffs to jacking up a school’s COA. With regard to the latter, if you decide to be more generous with your student-athletes, it doesn’t end there. The generosity has to extend to all of your students who receive aid. That’s why you’re not suddenly going to see COA numbers in the stratosphere; it would bankrupt a school to go that route.
So keep in mind a couple of things if you’re someone pulling your hair out about the COA like Richt is. Any redress is going to have to come at the conference level, which means that’s the level we’ll eventually watch the game of Keeping Up With The Joneses played at. And ultimately, Mark Emmert (!) has the correct take on things.
“Will that change the balance between the haves and have-nots? I think it won’t,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said Thursday when he was asked about cost of attendance during the Associated Press Sports Editors’ annual meetings with league commissioners. “I think the answer is, it won’t change it any more than it already has been changed.”
True ‘dat. Emmert as the voice of reason ought to tell you how much the O’Bannon ruling has resonated at this point. So don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s not going to drive the COA train now.