SBD/May 20, 2011/Colleges

Conference Commissioners Weigh In On Paying Student-Athletes In Addition To Scholarships

Banowsky feels the issue of paying student-athletes needs to be explored
Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said "something has to give” on the issue of paying student-athletes more than the scholarship money currently awarded, according to Joe Schad of ESPN.com. Banowsky said, "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." SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said, "I have long thought that we should revisit the current limitations on athletic scholarships by expanding to the full cost of attendance." Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe, ACC Commissioner John Swofford and Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said that “the concept should be further explored.” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said that “the issue merits study.” But he added, "The first question to answer is -- is this the right thing to do? That is a worthwhile debate. As an association the NCAA strives to differentiate intercollegiate athletics from professional sports and it is important that we continue to maintain the collegiate model." A spokesperson for NCAA President Mark Emmert on Thursday said Emmert "continues to be interested in discussing options about how to meet student-athletes' needs without paying them salaries." Emmert has said that “closing the gap between monetary awards to merit scholars and student-athletes is worth exploring.” Schad noted “on the table could be $2,000 to $5,000 per year per athlete for expenses such as transportation and clothing” (ESPN.com, 5/19).

BAD IDEA? In Jacksonville, Michael DiRocco wrote of paying athletes a stipend to cover living expenses, “On the surface, it seems like a good idea. … But it’s a bad idea. It’s something that can’t be implemented unilaterally across the NCAA.” Ohio State “might be able to afford the cost,” but some schools “wouldn’t even come close to having those kinds of funds.” Even if the funds “come from the conference’s TV deals and are distributed equally among every school, there’s a huge difference in the SEC’s TV contract and, for example, the Sun Belt’s TV deal” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 5/19). In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes, “It's a terrible idea. It's not merely a slippery slope. It's a sheet of ice down the mountain. Throwing more money at a cultural or political problem rarely offers a cure. It simply provides more room for corruption” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/20).
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