Updated Jan. 21, 2:45 a.m.: Members of each school in the NCAA’s Power Five Conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big XII Conference, Big Ten Conference, Southeastern Conference, and Pacific-12 Conference) and a panel of student-athletes voted by a measure of 79-1 Saturday to provide full cost-of-attendance scholarships to student-athletes. This vote will allow schools to provide, on average, an additional $2,000 to $5,000 stipend to cover cost of living expenses to varsity athletes, supplementing the NCAA’s full grant-in-aid scholarships, which covers tuition, books, and room and board. These living expenses range from laundry to school supplies.
Boston College, however, was the only school to vote down the measure.
BC Athletics provided this statement:
“Boston College is concerned with continuing to pass legislation that increases expenses when the vast majority of schools are already institutionally subsidized. The consequence of such legislation could ultimately hurt student-athletes if / when programs are cut.
This legislation further segregates student-athletes from the general student population by increasing aid without need-based consideration. Legislation already exists for student-athletes in need through pell grants and the student-assistance fund.
We have concerns that the Federal Financial aid formula is sufficiently ambiguous that adjustments for recruiting advantage will take place.”
As reported in October, the gap between what BC’s financial aid office determines as the cost-of-attendance and the provisions for full scholarship athletes sits at $1,200. This gap represents the smallest in the ACC, tied with the University of Notre Dame.
On the other hand, Virginia Tech has the largest cost-of-attendance in the ACC at $5,480. Carly Pariseau, BC’s Associate Athletics Director for Compliance, told The Heights BC’s status as a private school with students that often remain on campus—two traits they share with Notre Dame students but not with many of the ACC’s large public schools, like Virginia Tech or Clemson University—may be the cause for this small cost-of-attendance gap.
Many officials from both the school and conference levels spoke out in favor of this measure. The most notable statement comes from ACC commissioner John Swofford, who threw support behind providing full cost-of-attendance scholarships for student-athletes in July 2013, according to ESPN’s Andrea Adelson.
“It is history,” said Swofford in a report by USA Today’s George Schroeder. “It’s a culmination of a lot of things over the past several years.”
The ruling overturns a decision by the NCAA from 1975, which required that additional living expenses not be included in determining financial packages granted to student-athletes. Therefore, the maximum amount student-athletes may get is known as full grant-in-aid, consisting of tuition, room, board, and books. Student-athletes in dire need can still apply for federal aid, such as through Pell grants, or can request funds fairly easily from the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund.
This proposal marked the first time the Power Five used their power to vote separately from the NCAA since being granted autonomy in August of last year. This allows those top 65 schools to create their own legislation, furthering widening the monetary gap between them and the remaining 286 Division 1 institutions. While these other schools can enact the same measures that the Power Five institutes, many do not have anywhere near the same financial support for their athletic programs.
This creates an irreversibly large competitive imbalance between the Power Five and the schools from the remaining 27 NCAA Division 1 Conferences. In addition to cost-of-attendance scholarships, the Power Five also approved removal of athletic scholarships based on game performance and concussion safety measures.
The Heights estimated that, if all 351 student-athletes who currently have some financial aid package also received a cost-of-attendance stipend, it would cost the school about $421,000. This figure assumes that all student-athletes require this stipend as part of their financial aid.
Nothing from the NCAA’s ruling indicated whether the proposal will be approved at a conference level or if it will be made a choice by the individual schools, according to ESPN. This means the measure, openly supported by the ACC, may still be decided on a school-by-school basis. This would allow BC to still deny student-athletes full cost-of-attendance supplements in spite of the NCAA’s decision.
Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Editor