Bloom’s Battle

Bloom’s Battle It isn’t unusual for sports to blur the lines between professional and amateur athletics. Traditionally the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has established rigid policies that attempt to protect student athletes from the high-stakes game of professional sports, yet with each passing year, major athletic conference’s push the NCAA to allow a greater portion of college sport revenue to be provided to amateur athletes. In early 2015, members of the AAC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 moved forward with providing the full cost of attendance to athletes involved in the 65 schools affiliated with the five conferences. Traditionally, athletic scholarships at these institutions reflected the cost of room, board, tuition, and textbook costs for student athletes. Scholarships supporting collegiate athletes could not exceed these calculations determined for each institution despite the long held belief that it did not cover the full obligation that students incurred while enrolled. Each sport can require athletes to practice/compete up to 20 hours each week, and when weighed against the demands of school, work makes it difficult to earn additional income that may be necessary for them to cover other expenses associated with college attendance. Initially approved by the NCAA in August 2014, the vote by the five major conference leaders now allows for institutions to provide stipends (amounts determined by federally established guidelines) of up to $2,000 and $4,000 annually. Shortly afterward, a number of other smaller conferences also followed suit noting that to maintain a competitive advantage in Division I athletes, the need to offer equivalent stipends to at least football and men’s basketball players was crucial in the current recruiting environment. Many believe that successful college athletic programs should allow student athletes to earn a larger portion of the revenue generated from their competitive efforts. For instance, the NCAA currently sells the television rights to its national tournament each year, for which CBS pays more than $6 billion to retain the rights. More than 94% of the money is distributed back to colleges and universities to support all athletic programs. Yet, the athletes responsible for helping to generate this revenue see little of that money beyond the scholarships they receive to attend their institutions. Should collegiate athletes be eligible for additional stipends from their institution to cover the expenses beyond actual attendance costs?

1. Does it seem appropriate that only athletes from a limited number of sports are eligible for the additional stipends based on their capacity as a revenue generating sport?

2. What potential problems might the shift by the NCAA cause in the future as revenue from collegiate sports continues to increase?