Bulldogs > NCAA Scholarship Changes Hurt UGA

| April 22, 2015
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Atlanta Journal Constitution Editorial

ATHENS –  There is another crack in the collusive system in which the NCAA cartel’s member schools conspire to hold down labor costs for its student-athletes employees and it hurts Georgia more than any SEC school except for Kentucky.

Back in January the schools of the NCAA’s so-called Power Five conferences approved a rule allowing them to cover the “full cost of attendance” as defined by the schools. This was only a baby step toward the inevitable day when schools will have to compete for athletes on a free (well, freer) market, and it happened only because the NCAA is feeling pressure after losing a federal antitrust lawsuit regarding the commercial use of its athletes’ images in video games.

The Chronicle of Higher Education tallied the differences in the value of the old scholarships and the new “full cost of attendance” scholarships at Power Five schools. It turns out that the increase in the value of UGA’s scholarship is smaller than every SEC school except for Kentucky. Listed below are the Chronicle’s figures for SEC schools with value of old scholarship, value of new scholarships and difference in value between the old and the new:

SCHOOL

CONF

CURRENT

PROPOSED

DIFFERENCE

Auburn University

SEC

$23,578

$29,164

$5,586

Louisiana State University

SEC

$24,192

$27,288

$3,096

Mississippi State University

SEC

$17,294

$22,420

$5,126

Texas A&M University at College Station*

SEC

$19,764

$22,470

$2,706

University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa†

SEC

$24,542

$27,434

$2,892

University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

SEC

$19,064

$23,066

$4,002

University of Florida

SEC

$17,230

$20,550

$3,320

University of Georgia

SEC

$20,082

$22,680

$2,598

University of Kentucky

SEC

$21,464

$23,748

$2,284

University of Mississippi

SEC

$18,204

$22,704

$4,500

University of Missouri at Columbia

SEC

$21,040

$24,704

$3,664

University of South Carolina at Columbia†

SEC

$21,414

$25,565

$4,151

University of Tennessee at Knoxville*

SEC

$23,710

$29,376

$5,666

Vanderbilt University*

SEC

$61,470

$64,250

$2,780

As you can see, in the SEC only Kentucky’s $2,284 increase in scholarship money for athletes is smaller than Georgia’s $2,598 increase. You think the extra three grand per year Auburn can offer over UGA will make a difference to an 18-year old deciding where he wants to play football?

(After originally posting this blog, the Atlanta Journal Constitution heard from Georgia AD Greg McGarity. He says the data used by The Chronicle of Higher Education for its comparison of total costs is outdated. UGA’s latest cost of attendance figures includes $3,221 for costs beyond tuition, room, board, books and fees for Georgia residents living on campus and $3,746 for non-Georgia residents living on campus. That is the amount of the stipend that UGA can provide to athletes under the new rules. It’s not clear how those figures compare to the latest data from the other SEC schools.)

Boston College was the only member of the Power Five to object to the proposed increase in scholarship value. According to the Chronicle, BC worried about “increasing aid without need-based consideration.” Boston College also predicted an inevitable upward adjustment in the full cost of attendance by those schools seeking to increase how much they can pay their revenue-generating athletes and thus improve their recruiting advantage.

No surprise that one school already has done this. The Chronicle reports that Texas Christian recently came up with a new cost of attendance estimate that is $4,700 more than its old estimate: “The change makes TCU, which costs nearly $60,000 a year to attend, appear even more expensive than it has been in recent years. The move also provides the athletic department with a potential new bargaining chip in the recruitment of elite athletes.”

Also not surprising is that this trend is being met with backlash by schools appalled at the idea that more of the billons in revenues generated by athletic programs may go to the athletes. In response, they have not contemplated whether coaches, administrators and staff should take a smaller piece of the pie. Instead, they want rules to ensure that there are limits on how much more athletes can get even though those the marketable skills of those athletes are most responsible for the size of the pie.

Reports the Chronicle: “Such worries have led athletic directors to consider new rules that would standardize aid allowances for athletes. The discussions are at an early stage but have included suggestions that all major programs be allowed to offer players a certain amount — say, $4,000 per player over nine months — no matter how much their colleges cost to attend.”

Ah, yes, the possibility of athletes earning more money means the NCAA needs more price fixing. Football and men’s basketball players at the Power Five schools won’t be earning anything close to their true market value but, hey, the NCAA needs to stop this dangerous trend of athletes earning more for their profit-generating labor.

In the meantime, UGA needs to hop to it and show why the cost of living in Athens is getting to be so daggone high.

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