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SBD/June 25, 2014/Colleges
Big Ten Leaders Call For Academic Reform In Final Days Before Autonomy Vote
Published June 25, 2014
TIMING HARD TO IGNORE: In N.Y., Ben Strauss writes the timing of the statement "is hard to ignore." One of the cases filed against the NCAA and its five largest conferences seeks to "turn high school recruits into free agents." The letters "may serve the O'Bannon plaintiffs' case, which argues there has not been enough done to support athletes' academics." Oregon State President Ed Ray said, "Timing isn't the issue because these are conversations we've been having." Strauss notes some wonder "if these latest efforts from the conference are too little too late -- simply part of a new arms race to increase benefits without actually paying players" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/25).
PLENTY TO GO AROUND: In Chicago, Hopkins & Richards cite an examination of athletic department budgets over the past five years for Big Ten schools showing that they "generate tens of millions of dollars in operating surpluses." The review found that many of the schools "could compensate players beyond just the value of a scholarship if they dipped into their year-end athletic department surplus: They could afford some form of payment to members of the men's basketball and football teams, which are revenue-generating sports, and could even cover certain extra costs for all scholarship athletes." Financial reports submitted to the NCAA were available for 10 of the 12 conference teams -- Northwestern and Penn State did not share data -- and a closer look at the '12-13 school year showed "all but Purdue reported year-end surpluses." Eight of the schools "could afford to provide football and men's basketball players a few thousand extra to pay collegiate incidental expenses." The financial reports also show that seven of those schools "could pay their men's basketball and football players annual amounts of $7,500 -- a figure that mirrors what some minor league baseball players earn as they try to reach the majors." That would be "in addition to tuition and housing" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/25).