Posted by Adam Jacobi
For the last few years, a growing drumbeat has sounded about the gap in scholarship money and the "full cost of attendance," which would cover the everyday college expenses that fall outside the purview of what's covered by a full scholarship. Athlete advocates have called such a gap unfair, especially with how many restrictions exist on how athletes may earn extra money. Now, it appears the NCAA has not only listened, it has agreed -- and will do something about it.
On Thursday, the NCAA approved a financial package to distribute up to $2,000 a year or enough to cover full cost of attendance (whichever is less) to "student-athletes in head-count sports (football and basketball) and those in equivalency sports who reach the value of a full scholarship." These extra funds will not be affected by Pell Grants, which is further good news for student-athletes who come from households that struggle financially.
One curious aspect of the reform is that the NCAA agreed not to revisit the $2,000 limit for three years, which could be construed as an arbitrary and excessive amount of time to evaluate whether the figure is sufficient for covering attendance costs. What would the NCAA hope to learn in the third year that it wouldn't after two?
Also of special note is a large increase in the Academic Progress Rate (APR) for postseason eligibility, which you can read about from Tom Fornelli here.
Here's the rest of what the NCAA approved, compiled by Eye on College Basketball's Jeff Goodman:
- The Board also adopted the concept that coaches will be able to work with prospective and enrolled student-athletes in the summer - although the leadership council will consider alternate models in January, one that could be tied into summer school attendance.
- Junior college transfers will now need a 2.5 GPA instead of a 2.0 GPA and will also have increased core-course requirements.
- The sliding academic scale has also increased.
- Multi-year grants have been approved up to the full term of eligibility - with one-year remaining the minimum.
- Presidents also voted to allow institutions to provide financial aid to former players who remain or return to complete their degrees after exhausting their eligibility.
Altogether, this is quite possibly the biggest piece of reform the NCAA has put forward in decades, and is certainly one of the most beneficial reforms it has offered to the players ever. Between the extra money, multi-year scholarships, and continuing aid once a student-athlete becomes just a student, the NCAA has firmly come down in favor of the players -- and against the worst abuses of big-time college sports, like oversigning.
Is this all a perfect fix? No. Can student-athletes get rich in college off of this? Of course not. But is the situation for student-athletes incrementally better than it was before this reform? Yes, substantially so, and if student-athlete welfare is high on your list of priorities, this is a welcome development.