Top NCAA Athletic conferences legislate to cover full cost of College attendance
The Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12) have passed legislation guaranteeing the full cost of attendance for scholarship student-athletes. In addition to a tuition free education, student-athletes will now receive yearly stipends of $2,000 to $4,000 intended to cover cost-of-living expenses.
The measure passed with near unanimous support, 79-1, from the 65 schools and 15 student-athlete representatives, three from each conference. Boston College was the only school to vote against it, according to NCAA tabulations.
Full cost of college attendance is long overdue
After the unionization of Northwestern’s football team and the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit victory, the Power 5 programs felt pressure to rethink the benefits for scholarship student-athletes. ACC commissioner Johh Swofford told ESPN.com that it was the right time to make a change:
“It’s one afternoon, but it’s really been the last two years that a lot of this has been vetted and discussed. Full cost of attendance was critical. It had to pass. It was part of modernizing the collegiate model.”
College scholarships are more than spending money for student-athletes.
The yearly stipends grabbed the headlines, but other new legislation was also approved.
These new measures include a concussion safety protocol, a discretionary student-athlete assistance fund to purchase insurance against injury, and a proposal to prevent schools from pulling scholarships from student-athletes for poor performance.
The latter, which was passionately supported by the player representatives, barely passed by just three votes.
College scholarships will affect the future of college football
The approval of this new legislation exposes the widening divide in college football between the Power 5 conferences and everyone else. A few years back a similar proposal was considered by all Division I programs, but it was voted down.
These measures only passed now because the Division I Board of Directors granted autonomy to the Power 5 conferences in 2014. By explicitly separating the wealthiest programs, the leaders of Division I may have set into motion the end of the student-athlete.
Now that Power 5 schools operate by their own rules, who is going to stop them from creating a new semi-professional league where elite schools pay top dollar for the best players?
The full cost of attendance is a certainly a short-term victory for student-athletes, who can finally take their significant other to a nice dinner, but it could also be the first step towards professional football in college.
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