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Is the NCAA close to handing out ‘stipends’ through an alternative method?

May 31, 2013, 7:28 PM EST

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One of the hot-button topics regarding the NCAA in recent years has been whether or not student-athletes should be paid. Whether it’s by way of a basic stipend or a raise in the value of a scholarship so it meets the full cost of attendance, there’s no shortage of opinions on the topic.

From a legislative standpoint those in favor of the stipend, with NCAA president Mark Emmert being one of the proponents, have found the going tough in regards to getting it written into law.

But according to John Infante of CollegeSportsScholarships.com, the NCAA may have found another way in which they can add a little something extra to the value of an athletic scholarship.

Another change has occurred with little notice and even less opposition. Proposal RWG-16-7 deregulated expenses in conjunction with practice and competition, most notably removing limits on meals during road trips and the NCAA’s limits on when teams can leave and when they must return from away games. But it also removes this language:

16.8.1.9 Apparel for Community Service or Team Travel. An institution may provide a student-athlete with one shirt (e.g., polo, oxford style) bearing the institution’s logo to be used for team travel or other events at which he or she is representing the institution. The shirt may bear a single manufacturer’s or distributor’s normal trademark or logo not to exceed 2 1/4 square inches in area, including any additional materials surrounding the normal trademark or logo.

What does this mean? According to Infante, removing 16.8.1.9 would deregulate travel clothing for student-athletes, meaning that there would be no limit on the amount of clothing athletes receive.

And with the above paragraph noting the possibility of removing the limits placed on the number of meals programs can provide their scholarship athletes, programs would be able to take care of the most basic needs of their athletes.

Since schools are already allowed to give scholarship athletes electronic “learning aids” such as iPads and the like, could similar allowances for food and clothing be on the way? If so, that would result in scholarship athletes receiving benefits never realized under the NCAA’s “amateur” model.

Imagine then an athlete who is on a full grant-in-aid and a Pell Grant, which at most schools would exceed the cost of attendance. If the athlete lives off-campus, he would receive a room and board stipend, but would potentially never have to buy food. That would allow him to pocket the entire board stipend, up to $4,000 a year at some schools. No matter what sport this athlete plays, he can also now be employed at his school’s camps, allowing him to earn a couple thousand dollars each summer. That would get close to the figures tossed around in many stipend scenarios, of between a couple hundred and $1,000 per month.

While this possibility may not satisfy the demands of those who want scholarship athletes to either be paid or receive a “concrete” stipend, having a food allowance that wouldn’t count against the cost of the scholarship would be a nice perk.

But as with everything else when it comes to NCAA legislation, the question is whether or not the membership will sign off on a change of this magnitude.

And with the many different viewpoints within the NCAA, that’s not a lock.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.