NCAA President Mark Emmert believes it is time for a change.
While Emmert draws a clear distinction between the $2,000 stipend he has proposed and play-for-pay athletics, he unapologetically advocates for giving student-athletes a larger cut of a huge pie that is about to get even bigger.
The NCAA’s current men’s basketball tournament agreement with CBS and Turner is worth an average of more than $770 million per year, and the current Bowl Championship Series television deal — money that goes to conferences and then is distributed to schools, with no NCAA involvement — is worth $180 million per year.
The new college football playoff, which starts in the 2014 season, will be worth about $470 million annually to the conferences.
Emmert chides athletic programs that make major decisions guided by efforts to generate more revenue, such as switching conferences, and then complain they can’t afford a stipend.
“When the world believes it’s all a money grab, how can you say we can stick with the same scholarship model as 40 years ago?” he said last month.
In October 2011, the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors approved a rule change that would give colleges the option of providing athletes with a $2,000 stipend for expenses not covered by scholarships.
“It doesn’t strike me as drastic by definition,” said Mike Slive, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, Alabama’s league, and one of the most vocal advocates for a full-cost-of-attendance scholarship. “There is a fixed definition for a scholarship. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be reviewed.”
But many schools objected to the policy, and last January, the board delayed its implementation. Colleges worried about how the stipends would affect Title IX compliance and whether they’d be able to afford them.
“I do understand the economics, that it might be more difficult for some than others, but for those that can do it, it’s the right thing do to and that ought to be the guiding factor,” he said.