SBD/October 28, 2011/Colleges

NCAA Approves Scholarship Reforms, Allows Conferences To Vote On Stipends For Athletes

Emmert insists money is not pay-for-play, just reintroduction to stipend from '72
The NCAA’s Division I BOD Thursday “approved a package of sweeping reforms that gives conferences the option of adding more money to scholarship offers, schools the opportunity to award scholarships for multiple years, imposes tougher academic standards on recruits and changes the summer basketball recruiting model,” according to Michael Marot of the AP. For decades, outsiders "have debated whether college scholarships should include more than just the cost of tuition, room and board, books and fees. And "now they can," as the board "approved a measure allowing conferences to vote on providing up to $2,000 in spending money” for athletes. NCAA President Mark Emmert said that “it is not pay-for-play, merely the reintroduction of a stipend that existed for college athletes until 1972.” Schools “must pay the cost of additional funding, and it will have to be doled out equally to men's and women's athletes because of Title IX rules.” While BCS schools “have the money and are expected to swiftly approve additional funding, it might prove too costly for non-BCS schools.” There are fears it will “increase the disparity between the haves and the have-nots and could prompt another round of conference realignment.” The board “also approved a measure that will give individual schools the authority to award scholarships on a multiple-year basis.” Under the current model, “those scholarships are renewed annually and can be revoked for any reason.” Beginning in the ‘12-13 academic year, teams “must hit 900 on the Academic Progress Rate over four years or have an average of 930 over the two most recent years to be eligible for postseason play.” In ‘14-15, teams must have “a four-year score of 930 or a 940 average in the two most recent years.” And in the ‘15-16 academic year, “everybody has to hit 930, no exceptions.” The board “agreed to include the APR cutline in bowl licensing agreements, making it enforceable in football, too” (AP, 10/27). USA TODAY’s Andy Gardiner writes the “board’s actions implement recommendations initiated at an August retreat of college officials.” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, “I think, taken as a whole, it is by far and away the most aggressive and broad reform package that I’ve seen in my professional career at the NCAA” (USA TODAY, 10/28).

HAVES & HAVE-NOTS
: NCAA Committee on Academic Performance Chair and Univ. of Hartford President Walter Harrison said, “I believe we will look back on today as a historical occasion. We have put together what we think is a tough but fair approach” (L.A. TIMES, 10/28). But in St. Louis, Stu Durando notes officials at some universities “fear the financial decisions have the potential to further separate the haves from the have-notes.” Southern Illinois University-Carbondale AD Mario Moccia said, “I think it’s a huge deal, and it’s going to further widen the gap.” He added, “We don’t really vie against the Big Ten or Big 12 for kids. But the reality is within our league, if Wichita State or Creighton decides to do it, how could we not? I see it as a huge domino effect” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/28). Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters said that “the caveat to this measure … is that not every full scholarship athlete is entitled to the stipend.” While each conference “is different, it’s likely that conferences will set a maximum number of these stipends and teams can then pick and choose which athletes get them” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/27). In S.F., Gwen Knapp writes the "too-big-to-fail BCS schools will almost certainly ante up." But expect many of the outsider schools "that can't afford the tab to act like home buyers of five years ago, overextending themselves to 'buy now or be priced out forever'" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/28). In San Diego, Brent Schrotenboer writes "because some conferences can easily afford it and some cannot, the issue threatens to further divide the rich and poor." If some conferences "decide they can't afford it, they risk being at a serious disadvantage in recruiting against schools that can pay the extra $2,000 annually for full-scholarship athletes." Schrotenboer: "But even if they do decide to offer the benefit, they'd face another problem. They'd have to find a new way to pay for it amid constant fiscal challenges" (SIGN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/28).

UConn will have to improve its APR score
to be eligible for future postseason play

STRICTER REQUIREMENTS: In Hartford, Dom Amore notes as of now the Univ. of Connecticut men’s basketball team “is eligible for the 2012 NCAA Tournament, so the Huskies have a chance to defend their national title.” But they “would be ineligible for the 2013 tournament if rules announced Thursday remain in place.” For UConn to be eligible in ‘12-13, the NCAA “would have to change its method and timetable for collecting and releasing APR scores so that eligibility in 2013 is based on the scores from 2010-11 and 2011-12, instead of 2009-10 and 2010-11.” Harrison said, “We're trying to see if we can't speed this up. We think it would be better to have consequences tied to the year you most recently report it.” UConn President Dr. Susan Herbst in a statement released Thursday "reiterated her support for stronger academic requirements, but called on the NCAA to use the most recent APR scores in applying punishment” (HARTFORD COURANT, 10/28). In Phoenix, Craig Harris notes “all postseason college-football games must follow or risk going out of business.” The changes are designed “to avert the kinds of internal problems that surfaced during" the Fiesta Bowl's financial scandal in March that eventually led to the firing of former Fiesta Bowl President & CEO John Junker. The NCAA Division I BOD “approved most of the task force's recommendations, including strict policies on how bowl funds can be used.” Univ. of Nebraska Chancellor and NCAA Division I Bowl Licensing Task Force Chair Harvey Perlman said that bowls “will have to certify in writing that they are abiding by the new guidelines starting April 1 … and the NCAA will have the power to audit the bowls to make sure they are in compliance” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/28).

ANOTHER PLANTATION REFERENCE: Taylor Branch, author of “The Cartel,” appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” Wednesday night. Colbert asked, “What is ‘The Cartel?’” Branch: “The cartel is the NCAA, which without benefit of government sanction or law, has gotten together all the colleges … in an agreement to keep all the money away from the college athletes who actually do the work.” Colbert replied, “But they are amateurs, and amateurs, as we know, don't get paid, okay. The college athletes should just think of playing football as an internship with concussions.” Branch: “I think a lot of them do think of it that way and, of course, it's not right. It is like a plantation.” He continued, “They generate billions of dollars in income, but they are deprived of any participation in it so that the adults -- the coaches, the football schools, the administrators and the companies -- can take all the money” (“The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central, 10/26).

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