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Pryor has plenty of money available to him. There is no need to sell sacred items.
That’s it. I have had it with the inane and redundant talk about NCAA football student-athletes, specifically football players, not being able pay for a tank of gas or afford a combo meal at Subway. Stop it! Enough is enough. These kids are given ample resources to “survive” during their years on a college campus, and I will prove it to you. I will show you not only the value of a scholarship, but the cash and benefits student-athletes can get all within NCAA rules.
If this is your first time to Holy Turf, welcome. Let me give you some quick background information. I spent nine years working inside athletic departments at Arkansas and Baylor as an academic advisor for student-athletes. I have seen the inner workings of two athletic departments in two major conferences. Let’s get back to the task at hand. I live in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the home of the Razorbacks. In this article, I am going to use Arkansas as my example.
Before we get to the value of a scholarship, let’s start off with the amount of money available to football student-athletes within NCAA rules.
Many football student-athletes qualify for a Pell Grant based on several factors, but most earn a Pell Grant based on a lack of wealth from their parents. According to collegeboard.com, “The U.S. Department of Education uses a standard formula to evaluate the information you supply when applying for a Pell Grant. This formula produces a number called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which determines if you are eligible. The grant requires that you: 1. Are an undergraduate student who has not earned a bachelor’s degree. 2. Are a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen. 3. Have a high school diploma or a GED, or demonstrate the ability to benefit from the program”
A full Pell Grant is worth $5,500 a year and never has to be repaid because it is a grant, not a loan. Football players get $5,500 each year to do with what they want.
If a football player qualifies for a Pell Grant, they also get $500 of clothing allowance each year. My memory fails me, but I am almost certain this money is from the conference. Football players can buy whatever clothes they want as long as they bring back $500 worth of receipts to their Compliance department showing the clothes they bought. Now, many football players will spend this money on new Nike’s, hats, jeans or t–shirts. This money could be spent on buying a nice suit, or a few pairs of khaki pants and some button down shirts, but rarely is that the case.
Commissioner's like the Big 10's Jim Delaney talk about full cost scholarships, but remember that goes to every student-athlete on a full scholarship, not just football players.
Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund
According to Bylaw 15.01.6.2 in the NCAA Manual, each athletic department can use the student-athlete opportunity fund money for anything but financing salaries, scholarships (though paying for summer school is allowed, but a football player’s scholarship covers summer school), capital improvements, stipends, and outside athletic development. The NCAA gives each school a chunk of money each year…roughly $200,000 to help student-athletes out with whatever needs they may have deemed fit by the senior staff member in the athletic department in charge of the money. This money is not just for football, but the entire athletic department. Regardless, if a football player needs money to pay for gas, more new clothes, or a plane ride home, they can legally get money for that.
Special Assistance Fund
Football players also have access to a special assistance fund too. According to NCAA bylaw 16.12.2, money from the special assistance fund may be requested as additional financial aid (with no obligation to repay such aid) for special financial needs for student-athletes. I know one school used this fund to fly their basketball players home for the Christmas break. Completely within NCAA rules.
Room and Board
Football players typically live on campus with a meal plan at the dining hall during their freshman years. In this case, their scholarship covers all of the cost for their dorm room and meal plan. Most players will live off campus after their freshman year as long as the coach allows it, which is usually determined by how the student-athlete is doing in school. Football players living off campus get a room and board check equal to the amount their university lists in the costs to attend. For Arkansas, it is $4,021 for each fall and spring semester based off of this figure. A total of $8,024 for both semesters. Almost all scholarship football players stay in town for summer school to take care of their academics and workout. Arkansas has 16-week fall and spring semesters. The two summer sessions are a total of 12 weeks. Using that logic, Arkansas football players get 75% (12 weeks instead of 16) of $4,021, which is $3,016.
Here is one non-monetary benefit that may interest readers.
NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 allows for a student-athlete or an entire team in a sport to have an occasional meal paid for by a representative of athletics interest, also known as a booster, on infrequent and special occasions. The booster can even provide local transportation as long as the meal is at the booster’s house and not a restaurant. The meal cannot be at a house, but can be catered. The meal can be as lavish as the booster wants to provide. Most schools have a form for boosters to fill out before hosting a student-athlete or team. This is another way to feed student-athletes.
The typical non-freshman Arkansas football player received the cash listed below in 2010-11:
$5,500- Pell Grant
$500- Clothing Fund
$8,024- Fall and Spring Room and Board
$3,016- Summer Room and Board
$17,040- Grand Total
Remember, this excludes any money from the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund, the Special Assistance Fund, and any occasional meals provided by boosters. Monthly, football players are looking at $1,420 cash in their pocket without having to buy books or pay tuition and fees. Did you have $1,420 of cash every month in college? If football players were to work a job paying a respectable $10 an hour, they would need to work 36 hours a week for 50 weeks to make $1,420 before taxes to make what they get from their football scholarship and other available money sources.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive recently said, ""I have long thought that we should revisit the limitations on the current scholarship model and perhaps expand it to cover the full cost of attendance. I look forward to that discussion."
How much does it cost to live in an apartment in Fayetteville? One of, if not, the nicest apartments on the edge of campus costs $480 per person for a two bedroom apartment. Another nice apartment about a mile from campus costs $350 per person for a two bedroom apartment. If we split the difference at $415 per person, our football players have over $1,000 remaining from their monthly income after paying for rent and remember, they have no bills for tuition, books, or fees. Still think these guys cannot afford a tank of gas, a date, or any other reasonable expenditure for a college student?
Football is a ‘head count’ sport according to the NCAA. This means that football student-athletes are either on a full scholarship or not on any athletic scholarship. There is no middle ground. A full scholarship covers tuition, fees, books, room, and board. We covered the money a football player actually receives. Now, we will look at the added value of a scholarship. At Arkansas a student taking 30 credit hours would pay just under $8,000 as an in-state student for tuition, fees, and books. A non-resident would pay $17,162 for the same. Many football players will also take summer school during both summer sessions. The average expense for an in-state student taking nine summer hours is roughly $2,000. For an out of state student, the cost is closer to $4,500.
Scholarships are renewable each year for up to five years while student-athletes can only compete four seasons. Coaches can choose to not award a scholarship to a returning student-athlete at the end of each year for any reason. For our sake, we will assume our football players will be at school for five years because many redshirt or lose a year to a medical redshirt. In-state Arkansas students get $50,000 in value over five years from their scholarship covering tuition, books, and fees to go along with the roughly $17,000 a year we calculated above. In total, a football scholarship is worth $135,000 to football player at Arkansas from the state of Arkansas. Football players from out of state get roughly $108,000 in value over five years from their scholarship covering tuition, books, and fees in addition to the $17,000 a year listed above for a five year value of roughly $193,000.
I am not sure if I changed your mind on whether or not athletes should get paid, but next time you hear a talking head whining about football players not being able to afford money for a tank of gas or to take a lady out on a date you will know the facts. Most football players at BCS schools have a surplus of cash each month to spend however they choose.
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Here is a recap of recently released Academic Progress Reports from the SEC and Big 12 used to give a more ‘real-time’ view of academic success than six-year graduation rates of football programs.
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