Sunday, November 6, 2011

The $2,000 stipend for scholarship athletes ...

Now the NCAA will allow college football conferences to allow – if they want – their schools to give athletes on full scholarships an additional stipend of up to $2,000 per year. The need for this additional money is understandable. After all, despite its value to players, even a full-ride scholarship doesn’t provide money for gas … for an occasional pizza … for a movie.  And even if scholarship athletes could get legitimate jobs, the time demands of their commitment to the team don’t come close to allowing that. There are practices, meetings, workouts … even the so-called “voluntary” workouts during the summer … that effectively turn many college athletes, and especially those at Division I schools, into de facto full-time employees of the institution, even if that makes these student-athletes’ educations a secondary consideration (an issue for another day here). So based on the need to help these full-ride scholarship players cope with legitimate, additional financial needs, NCAA president Mark Emmert makes a good case, as noted in a great question-and-answer exchange in the Houston Chronicle. But part of what he says – that this will not widen the gap between the football programs with great resources and the football programs with not-so-great resources – is a bit of a stretch. Although we’re all familiar with media reports of how much revenue football programs bring in,  that's the exception rather than the rule. The fact is that most don’t make money. In fact, between 2004 and 2010, only 7 percent of Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) made money, according to an NCAA reportUPDATE: As of December 15, the rule was suspended, pending a meeting of the NCAA board of Governors in mid-January,2012.

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