NCAA expected to approve increased value of scholarships

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The proposal by some members of the collegiate athletics world to increase the value of a student-athlete’s scholarship (re: covering the full cost of attendance) has become a controversial topic for the past several months. But with the annual arrival of newer, more lucrative television deals to conferences — and, in some cases, individual institutions — it’s becoming harder for universities with revenue-producing college sports to fall back on the value that higher education provides to its student-athletes.

Simply put, and we’ve stated this many times, college football and basketball are run and operated as businesses, and athletes are stretched to their maximum availability day in and day out.

Meeting in Grapevine, Texas earlier this week, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick presented an increase in scholarship value that would vary, but cap off at $2,000. Swarbrick is part of a panel of major college AD’s who not only would like to see the NCAA approve the motion, but extend scholarships to multi-year grants.

Current athletic scholarships cover tuition, room and board, books and other university fees.

The NCAA’s Board of Directors are set to meet on Oct. 26 and 27 in Indianapolis, and are expected to approve the increased scholarship value proposal on a conference-based level, meaning it would not be mandated across all of Division 1.

“The philosophy that makes this make sense to us is that, really, because of the demands we place on student-athletes, their opportunity to generate any other revenue for themselves in a way that other students do is simply not there,” Swarbrick said. “And we ought to recognize that and make up for it.”

The move, if approved, still may not cover the “full cost of attendance” for every student at every school. USA Today research found that in the 2009-10 academic year, the average cost of attendance for a student-athlete exceeded the value of their scholarship by about $4,000.

But this idea is about compromise. There will never be a “pay for play” as long as the NCAA is tied to college athletics. Additionally, and as the motion outlined, not every conference is going to be able to afford to pay its players. It’s worth including again that only 22 Division 1-A athletic programs were self-sustaining last year, meaning they didn’t rely on any university or government subsidies

The logistical and financial hurdles of attempting to cover the full cost of attendance for athletes are numerous, but this is a case where if a conference feels they can do it, then they have that option.

Personally, I think it’s the right move. TV deals and other areas of revenue are becoming too common and athletes are asked to do too much to not get something in return.

Covering the full (or partial) cost of attendance won’t stop players from taking impermissible benefits or using the money for something other than laundry and a trip home. That happens now and it’s not going to change.

That doesn’t mean the evolution of the game can’t.

Former Miami TE Jovani Haskins headed to West Virginia

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Jovani Haskins announced two weeks ago he was leaving Miami for “somewhere else.” That somewhere else proved to be a favorite destination of other Sunshine State transfers: West Virginia.

“WVU is my new home and I can’t wait to perform in front of the fans of West Virginia!” he tweeted on Saturday.

A 3-star prospect out of Bergenfield, N.J.., Haskins was offered by West Virginia in the class of 2016 and most recruiting experts actually had him signing with the Mountaineers before a surprise commitment to Miami.

Haskins joins two former state of Florida players on WVU’s roster: starting quarterback Will Grier (Florida) and former Miami quarterback Jack Allison (Miami). The Mountaineers also employed Florida State transfer Clint Trickett at quarterback and Miami transfer Antonio Crawford at cornerback.

Haskins redshirted in 2016 and will presumably sit out 2017 before gaining eligibility in ’18. West Virginia could use the help immediately; the roster lists one scholarship tight end at present. WVU currently has two tight ends pledged for the 2018 class in addition to Haskins.

 

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.