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NCAA's $2000 Stipend In Doubt

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At the end of October, the NCAA approved an up to $2000 "stipend" for college athletes with full (not partial) scholarships. No matter how you want to spin it, it's a salary for the athletes who qualify for it.

The catch is that while the wage was approved by a committee, it can be overridden at the NCAA's annual convention if enough members schools vote to do so. It appears that's exactly what has happened:

[NCAA Division I vice president of governance David] Berst said 97 schools have signed onto the override measure, more than the 75 needed for the NCAA board to reconsider the stipend. If that number hits 125 by Dec. 26, the legislation would be suspended.

Either way, the Division I Board of Directors has three options: Rescind the stipend and operate under previous NCAA rules, modify the rule or create a new proposal that would go back to the schools for another 60-day comment period, or allow members to vote on the override. It would a take 5/8ths majority of the roughly 350 Division I members to pass.

Berst also said that somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 athletes signed with schools in November, and those who were promised the stipend will receive it no matter what happens at the upcoming convention. At least they got that part right.

The stipend plan has elicited a lot of criticism, but it seems that the main problems that schools are raising have to do with Title IX, added expenses, and feeling obligated to add the expenses to keep up with other programs competitively. Currently, NCAA rules allow up to 145 full (not partial) scholarships based on how many full scholarship sports a school sponsors. To give all of them the $2000 would raise expenses by $290,000 per year. That might be pocket change for the biggest football factories, but keep in mind that Division I has 350 schools in it. There are plenty of institutions potentially on the hook for some of that who are a long way off from paying millions to just the head football coach annually.

Ultimately, the problem here is that Division I is an entity where Florida, Maryland, and Texas are grouped in with Florida Gulf Coast, Maryland-Baltimore County and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. As long as that farce continues, NCAA reform efforts are going to be seriously hampered.