BY: John “Hennry” Harris
Athletic scholarships have traditionally covered tuition, room, board, books and fees, but with the exponential rise in profits gained by the colleges, networks and NCAA (just to name a few) off the popularity of the student-athletes coupled with the rising costs of living in general, rules changes are allowing major-college athletes more money.
According to USA TODAY Sports, two recent changes in NCAA rules are resulting in Power 5 Conference athletes receiving nearly $160 million a year in additional benefits that are designed to help with incidental costs of attending college like transportation, personal expenses and unlimited meals and snacks.
The Power 5 Conferences are the nation’s five wealthiest conferences which include: the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.
The scholarship additions kicked in August 1st culminating from antitrust lawsuits against the NCAA, criticism from members of Congress alluding to the exploitation of collegiate athletes and the dramatic increases in profits from television rights revenues for the elite conferences, along with the skyrocketing salaries for prominent coaches, athletic directors, conference commissioners and NCAA executives.
Everybody seems to be enjoying huge kickbacks and profits except for the ones actually creating the wealth, the student-athletes, who were forbidden from enjoying any profits because of archaic laws that now are making the athletes appear to essentially be slave labor.
“I do think it’d be naïve to say that the lawsuits didn’t accelerate things, but there was a lot of discussion about needing to do this before some of the lawsuits came about,” Kansas State president and NCAA Board of Governors chair Kirk Schulz told USA TODAY Sports. Schools among the five elite conferences “were saying, ‘Look we can afford to do it. We just need the ability (under the NCAA rules) to do it.’ “
The scholarship increase should be viewed as a victory, but it is still causing several problems and concerns. The increased spending on scholarships and food, along with other rising expenses, is causing worry for coaches in the so-called non-revenue sports who feel that the very existence of their teams may be in danger.
Financial aid officers are also feeling the pressure as it is their decisions about the schools’ cost of attendance figures that impact student debt levels.
With the millions and even billions of dollars being generated from television revenues, one would that paying for unlimited meals for the athletes should be a small expense, but it seems as if the NCAA and the conference commissioners are playing a financial shell game with the profits and what accounts this money should come from.
FBS schools that are not in the Power 5 Conferences are having even more problems competing for athletes and keeping up with the additional costs of covering the enhanced scholarships.
“Institutions are going to really have to work hard to address where those dollars come from, and I think they’re going to have to look really hard at philanthropy because it’s going to be a dangerous road if you just keep increasing the general student body athletic fee.” – Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade
At the end of the day, the same problem prevails in college athletics – greed. Schools are being forced to go through the U.S. Department of Education and philanthropic efforts to play for the increase in scholarship costs that were awarded because of the huge profits being generated by the revenue sports.
The answer seems simple, pay for the increase from enhanced scholarships from the profits earned. As a matter of fact, pay the athletes FIRST – just set aside a portion of the profits from the television contracts aside to pay for the increases.
But then again, that sounds too much like right, especially when you are dealing with profits many people were not aware of.
Read more about it HERE