Yesterday, it was reported that the Big Ten was considering “bridging the gap” between the full cost of living for student-athletes and the payout of an athletic scholarship. League officials said players could potentially receive roughly $3,000 annually in additional monetary benefits.
Whether it’s a good idea in the long run or not, conferences are talking about it. Rather than ramble on about the issue again, here are the opinions/statements of a handful of conference commissioners (courtesy ESPN.com):
SEC commissioner Mike Slive:
“I have long thought that we should revisit the current limitations on athletic scholarships by expanding to the full cost of attendance. This is a student-welfare issue that deserves full consideration at both the conference and national level. I look forward to that discussion.”
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe:
“This is a topic that BCS commissioners discussed at recent meetings and one that we agreed to review with our respective member institutions at spring conference meetings, which I intend to do at the upcoming annual Big 12 meetings.”
ACC commissioner John Swofford:
“I think it’s something that deserves our full consideration and discussion. It would be consistent with a number of other scholarships that are on our campuses across the country.”
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott:
“I fully support studying the impact of increasing the grant in aid package for student-athletes. We have not had any discussion on earmarking funds for this purpose.”
It’s not surprising that commissioners from BCS conferences are supportive of — or, at least, open to discussing — the prospect of paying players more money. Most of them currently have the funds from television rights to do it. However, one Non-BCS commish also had an interesting take:
Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky:
“Universities justify spending tens of millions of dollars on coaches’ compensation, with a seemingly insatiable appetite for more growth. At the same time, a small fraction of that amount is spent on all scholarships for all student-athletes. Unless the student-athletes in the revenue-producing sports get more of the pie, the model will eventually break down. It seems it is only a matter of time.”
It’s certainly counterintuitive that the commissioner of a Non-BCS conference would see and/or advocate the benefit in the additional payouts to players given the costs burdened with it. A primary concern of increasing the payments to players is that only a select few will be able to financially shoulder those costs.
Discussions like these tend to present more problems than they solve, but the only way to get over those hurdles is to discuss them.