Why Small Schools Are Overriding FCOA Comment Count

Brian December 20th, 2011 at 11:56 AM



[UPDATE: Original credit for the PDF should go to Christian Dennie. Andy Staples also has a good piece on this.]

Get the Picture unearths the reasons given by 100+ schools for overriding the $2k stipend recently adopted at the behest of the Big Ten and SEC. Two of them are BCS schools: Wake Forest and Rutgers. Rutgers manages to lose buckets of money, so that's obvious. Both schools bring up the Title IX implications as their reasoning, and even if I don't agree with how Title IX is implemented that's a federal mandate you can't get around. It's a legal concern.

Anyway, some of the reasons presented by smaller schools are valid:

The way this legislation was adopted was through channels intended for emergency or non-controversial issues.  Neither applies in this case.  [Miami (Not That Miami)]

Another reason for overriding this legislation should be the need to at least eliminate its application to FCS football.  The football championship division exists because there are about 120 Division I institutions that sponsor football programs and choose to spend less on scholarships, coaching staffs, etc. than the Division I FBS members.  Taking a stand against the Cost of Attendance, at least for FCS football, would be consistent with this philosophy. [Tennessee-Martin]

However, many are fist-shakingly cynical, totally oblivious, and/or as misspelled as this blog's "full cost of attedance [sic] scholarships" tag:

The insitution [sic] is not in a position to fund the additional costs associated with the miscellaneous expense. Many institutions are likely to be in the same position which would create a competitive advantage for those insitutions [sic] who had [sic] large budgets [Marshall]

Trying to legislate cost saving in other areas, while adding this potential hugh [sic] expense to institutions [Maryland-Baltimore County]

2011-96 provides an unfair disadvantage to smaller institutions that will struggle to find the funds necessary to provide the additional $2,000 to student-athletes. Some schools may only be able to provide these funds to their revenue producing sports by pulling money away from their other sports which could have a negative impact on the student-athletes involved in those sports. [Wright State]


We are a "have-not."  This rule benefits the Division I "haves" and would widen the chasm between "BCS" schools and non BCS schools. [Southeastern Louisiana]

Southeastern Louisiana's 2010 athletic department budget shows about 2.5 million in actual money taken in*, almost half of which consists of NCAA distributions from basketball tournament revenue and guarantee games from bigger schools. They should take their 1.1 million a year and say "yes, sir" if they want to keep up the fiction they are capable of competing as a Division I school.

*[They claim 10m in revenues with 6.9 million of that "direct institutional support" and 660k in "indirect facilities and administrative support." Also who knows what the 260k listed as "other" consists of.]

The Board of Directors passed this legislation that will cost 75% of the membership millions of dollars they don’t have. In addition to the obvious costs there are gender-equity implications of this initiative that make the costs even higher.  It's not realistic to maintain that this legislation is permissive and not acknowledge the costs it will create because of competitive equity. [Tennessee-Martin]

In 2006, Tennessee-Martin's annual budget for men's basketball was $134,264, 331st of 331 teams then competing in D-I. (Since then 14 additional schools have decided to add basketball programs.) They are making same argument NBA owners make when they demand CBAs that prevent them from throwing outrageous contracts at bad players.

And then there's this from Tennessee Tech:

I want to share a very supportive and knowledgeable university professor's view of this change in legislation.  He writes "Perhaps my biggest grievance is the apparent insensitivity and bad timing involved. It seems most dubious to give some student athletes what amounts to "tattoo money" at a time when far too many others are unable to put food on the table, and the institutions themselves are almost all facing choices among various undesirable options.

I'm not sure whether to high five the guy for calling the stipend "tattoo money" or mock this tweed-jacket-with-elbow-patch-wearing pipe smoker for deploying "most dubious" and expecting people to take him seriously. We are not contemplating an invasion of the Hottentots. Your diction is invalid.

I've apparently gone with the mocking option. In retrospect, it was inevitable.

BONUS: A number of overrides have been submitted for the next proposal, 2011-97, which allows institutions to offer scholarships longer than a year. It's like Boise State just came to this planet:

When you combine 2001-97 [multi-year offers] with 2001-96 [FCOA] it creates a culture of brokering. For a prospective student-athlete, the decision as to where to attend college and participate in athletics is most likely the biggest decision they will make at that point in their lives. That tough decision becomes more complicated when the student and his/her family have to factor in what school "offers the best deal" versus where they may want to attend if all offers were for one year without the enticement of 2,000. [Boise State]

I don't even know where to start with this being portrayed as a negative. A "culture of brokering" sounds a lot like "the exact goal of the legislation."

The current system works.  We don't need to get into bidding wars where one school offers a $75% for 2 years and the other school then offers 85% for 3, etc., etc.  This puts the kid into a situation where they almost need an agent/advisor just to determine the best "deal."   Again, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. [Indiana State]

The person who does this for Indiana State watches ice skating exhibitions on Saturdays instead of football. ISU also submitted overrides for every proposal that attempted to increase academic standards.

BTW, Rutgers also objects to this proposal making me think ill of their athletic department. Utah is the only other BCS school to submit an override (because the "Student-Athlete advisory council" is against it since "they feel it locks student-athletes in," which it doesn't, and "eliminates the potential for other athletes to receive aid," which it does by increasing degree completion rates).

With only 48 overrides in for 2011-97, it looks like multi-year grants will pass even if they open the schools up to a horrifying world wherein they have to compete in one of those market things. Commies.



December 20th, 2011 at 12:08 PM ^

That tough decision becomes more complicated when the student and his/her family have to factor in what school "offers the best deal" versus where they may want to attend

I believe most people call these sort of decisions "real life."

Feat of Clay

December 20th, 2011 at 1:37 PM ^

As if this was a problem unique to athletics.  Every year you have kids graduate from high school who have to make a realistic decision on college that may pitch "where they want to attend" against "the school that offers the best deal."    Sometimes it's a matter of the "richer" school offering better aid.  Sometimes it's a matter of the less-prestigious school offering more merit money because of where you fall in their spectrum of applicants.

It's funny, back in the 1980s eight Ivy League-caliber schools got together to make sure that all their aid offers were the same so that kids would make decisions solely on where they thought the fit was best, not based on getting a slightly better grant.  They ended in hot water over price-fixing allegations.  One of them even went to court over it and lost.  


December 20th, 2011 at 10:04 PM ^

I was thinking more along the lines of, "do I want the job I love, or do I want the job that pays 30% more?" Or "do I buy this cheap crappy place and save enough money over the next 15 years to get a nice place, or do I get a great place now and hope I can afford it for the next 30?" Or even, "do I stay with this hot crazy skank who's great in the sack, or this very pretty, stable person who puts up with my shit?" 

But yes, in the situation you mentioned, and really all these situations, it comes down to having the foresight to know what the consequences may be and making your decision after weighing everything. If you make the wrong decision, you take your medicine. It's called growing up.


December 20th, 2011 at 12:09 PM ^


You know the rules. NO POLITICS.

/Docked 1,000,000,000 points


December 20th, 2011 at 12:09 PM ^

and I hope someone voices to these small schools, is that NO ONE IS REQUIRED TO GIVE THE $2K!! Wright State doesn't have to give the stipend to anyone. Conferences can vote on whether or not they will offer the stipend as a conference!

All the proposal says is "You schools with buckets of left over money can now give some to your players". It says nothing about schools needing to spend anything. I think we're getting steps closer to there being a "Division 0" of just the BCS moneymakers, or relegating the mid-schools down to 1AA or something.


December 20th, 2011 at 12:13 PM ^

players will just go to the schools that can afford to give the 2k and stay away from the schools that don't.  To the extent one thinks competitive balance matters (i.e., that amateur athletics shouldn't be driven by pure free market principles), that's a problem.  And, to use economic terms I hate, in smaller conferences, it can lead to a pretty massive prisoners' dilemma, where each school would be better off not giving the 2k, but feels like it has to because its competitors are.  



December 20th, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

and the competitive balance between conferences is already so CLOSE!

If we're talking football, how often does a B1G school lose a kid to the MAC? You've already got massive inequalities. $2k isn't going to push kids from Wright State to Michigan. The Big House, the fans, the caliber of team, education, BTN, etc. will do that. $2k isn't going to do it. If you want to make a "straw-camel's-back" anaolgy, fine, but there is already a ton of hay on the camel in that analogy.

That's why I think the conference voting makes so much sense. The Upper-majors/BCS teams can afford to do this, they do. We recruit against each other with our massive stadiums, etc. so it's not an advantage.All the mid majors and below don't do it. They still recruit against each other. and there's no inherent advantage.

The little guys are apparently so worried about the very few kids on the small program-big program fence that they might lose that they're going to screw this up for everyone.



December 20th, 2011 at 12:23 PM ^

It's within the mid-major conferences. Take a conference where none of the schools can really afford to pay the $2k. They still have fans and boosters and important people who want to win football games. So one school in the conference starts offering the money because it realizes doing will give it a huge competitive advantage against the schools it's recruiting and competing against, maybe enough so that increased revenue will make up for the short-fall. Then every other school has to fall in line, because they also have fans and boosters and important people who want to win and are like "what the hell? Not offering the 2k is screwing us." Pretty soon, you have a bunch of schools spending money they don't have because other schools are also spending money they don't have.

That seems bad.

MI Expat NY

December 20th, 2011 at 12:33 PM ^

The NCAA is more than just football, and some of those smaller schools are competitive with the football powers.  What happens if the football powers are suddenly tacking an extra $2K in cash to scholarships in all sports?  Is Gonzaga still pulling basketball players from Pac-12 schools if Washington is able to add $2K in cash that Gonzaga can't afford?  Is Rice still getting their fair share of baseball players in Texas if A&M and UT are offering some spending money?  

The non-BCS schools know they have little chance of being competitive with their BCS brethren in football every year.  But they can be competitive in other sports, despite the disadvantages that come with not having a mint of a football program.  They see this as just one more disadvantage being added to the pile, this time by the organization that is supposed to protect everyone, and for the benefit of a small number of schools.    


December 20th, 2011 at 12:29 PM ^

But this assumes that anybody was actually choosing Marshall over Michigan (or for basketball, George Mason over UNC) in the first place.  It then assumes that, of the tiny number of athletes who actually make such decisions, a meaningful percentage of them would be swayed by what is at that point (once you've already made a decision based so significantly on non-sports factors) a measly $2,000 per year.

If your argument is that it will shift talent away from, say, the Southern Miss-es of the world and to the Rutgers-es of the world (assuming that Rutgers is almost a comparable football program, which is an exagerration but go with it for now), there might be a small impact and you have a minor point.  But with smaller conferences exclusively, I'm OK with Marist pulling a recruit every 4 years from Alabama A&M that it might not have ended up with otherwise, or vice versa.

Ultimately, it seems deeply unlikely that this minor stipend will affect competitive balance in any meaningful way.


December 20th, 2011 at 12:13 PM ^

This stance is pretty easy to take when you looking at it from a Michigan perspective. Very few athletic departments operate in a surplus. So then, you will take money from the department to pay this addition $2,000. You are still going to hurt the student athlete in most cases due to having less money to spend on facilities, equipment, etc. How many programs can cover this added cost without pulling it from somewhere else? Not many.

Another side of the argument is what is this "full cost" bullshit. Student athletes and especially football players aren't paying for the neccesities in college. They get tuition, meals, tutoring, stipends, etc that no one else gets. When you add it up, even at a place like ISU the dollar value is close to, if not more than 50K per year. How many jobs can your average college kid get that is paying that? There aren't any. People seem to be failing to realize the work/pay relationship here. You play football for us and we get you a degree with no debt at the end of the day. That value is wide ranging, but in most cases the value surpasses $200,000.

The next argument will be "But the AD makes money off my services and I'm not getting any." First off, bullshit because you have your college paid for. The second is, that's capitalism. I am willing to bet that if my employer wasn't gaining from employing me, I would get fired. That's how it works. 

For the record, I do realize how hard these guys work. They probably put in 100+ weeks during the season. I get that part, however, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of people wanting to play college sports. 




December 20th, 2011 at 12:28 PM ^

Thank you!  Let's all please remember that no one makes these kids do this.  They do get compensated for their time and effort, and in more than just a degree.  Contacts, the cache that comes with having played football at a major university, etc.  I had scholarships for my undergrad at UM and still came out with 40k in debt.  And I would have killed to eat at the training table, let alone have extra academic support!


December 20th, 2011 at 1:01 PM ^

This is the "They ARE already paid, and they're paid ENOUGH dammit!" argument. I too would have killed for the life of a student athlete... so? There's a surplus now. What do you do with it? big schools want to be allowed (not forced) to give some of the surplus BACK to the student athlete. Why is that a bad thing? Should the coaches/administrators all just get more $$? How about the students cut goes up as well!


December 20th, 2011 at 1:29 PM ^

Then that may be why these smaller schools are protesting the movement.  They have no extra money to give to their football players, much less all of their athletes.  We are talking about a competitive advantage in all sports, not just football.  How is it fair that UM should get a commitment from a great baseball player out of highschool over, say, Miami(OH) because UM can provide FCOA because the football program makes more money?


December 20th, 2011 at 1:34 PM ^

In all sports! Because they make money!! This ALREADY HAPPENS.

Baseball players can go to NTM or U of M. At both they'll have a gym in which to work out, but the one at Michigan will be newer and nicer and fancier. They'll both have a home ballpark, but the one at Michigan will be newer, and nicer, and fancier. They'll both have an academic center for added help, but the one at Michigan will be newer and nicer and fancier. Etc. etc. etc.

It's already not fair.


December 20th, 2011 at 1:54 PM ^

You have some good points, and I agree with most of them, but I think it's understandable that there would be opposition to this from the smaller schools.  Its effect on competitiveness will probably be very minor, but it is propagating the bias toward the bigger schools.  For the record, I don't really disagree with the FCOA movement, as I think it can help out a lot of very hard-working kids, but my point is that these schools do have some basis for their complaints.


December 20th, 2011 at 1:58 PM ^

But it's a very "I can't play so NOBODY gets to!" attitude that I don't like. I definitely respect your opinion, and I agree that FCOA is a good thing. And these complaints are somewhat legit, but also, in my opinion, whiny. Good debate! This is part of why I come here, constructive dialog CAN exist on the internet!!


December 20th, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

If this gets implemented, I'm assuming all scholarship athletes would get FCOA, just to avoid dealing with any Title IX complaints.

Keep in mind that in many of the smaller sports the scholarships are not all 100%. Presumably a 50% scholarship athlete would only get $1000.


December 20th, 2011 at 3:17 PM ^

If you don't like that the coaches and administrators are getting more money, why don't we put a salary cap on them instead of giving student athletes (who are already compensated) more money?  If you don't like where the money is going I'm sure there are other places it could go that would be beneficial.  IMHO, giving student athletes an additional benefit is not the way to deal with this situation.


December 20th, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^

or admin pay will lead straight to a lawsuit. The players have no leverage, so their benefits are capped. Coaches either have a union (I think the NFL coaches do) or are represented by agents and lawyers, a cap on their pay would be illegal.

My point still stands, you think players are paid enough.


December 21st, 2011 at 12:40 AM ^

Your point is that there's lots of money sitting out there that ends up in the pockets of coaches and admins, so why not give some to the students?  My point is there are 50k students at UM and an incredibly small minority should not be given even more benefits then they already receive just because our current market values certain sports as it does.  This point has been discussed ad naseum on the board before.  We are looking at this problem from completely different points of view.  You are considering them employees of a sort, and I am considering them as part of the student body.  We cannot provide this benefit to the vast majority of students, therefore no students should get the benefit. 

I do agree that there is too much money going to the coaches and admins.  I don't have a good answer as to the best way to combat that issue, but my view of the football team as students of the university keeps me from saying, just pay them. 

What we need to be considering is the athletes from extremely poor backgrounds who are really in need of more support than their normal athletic scholarships provide.  I do think there could be some solution to support those athletes more, but then financial aid officers would need to be involoved in the process and it gets complicated. 


December 20th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

I don't think that word means what you think it means.  If it were true capitalism, players could choose freely where they wanted to go and how much they got paid.

College football is not capitalism.  If I were in the top .1% of my profession, I can demand (and somebody would) pay me a reflection of what I was worth.  Right now the only choice a player gets is where they are allowed to go to school, whether it be a FCS, FBS-MAC level, or FBS-BCS/South Florida, or a FBS-BCS Elite like Michigan.  If this were capitalism Michigan would be allowed to bid for the services of Denard Robinson, and if he didn't like what we offered he could go off and play at Florida with NO consequences.

Your entire analogy with your employer doesn't make any sense.  Yes, you may add value, but a limited amount, and are compensated thusly.  If you somehow added more value than your colleagues, you should be compensated above their level.  A player like Mike Martin adds more value to the university than, say, Terrance Robinson.  Terrance Robinson adds more value than the last scholarship rower in Women's Crew.  However, they are all compensated at an equal level.  That's about as far from capitalism as you can get.


As with your last point, "there doesn't seem to be a shortage of people wanting to play college sports".  Yes, and lots of people  want to play football in the NFL as well.  the 53rd man on the roster is still paid $300k a year.  Just because lots of people want to do something doesn't mean that they shouldn't be compensated well for their work.


December 20th, 2011 at 12:22 PM ^

I love it.

I am concerned about the costs of allowing Hugh to attend as well, though. I mean, on scholarship he might be eligible for an "all you can eat" meal plan. Have you seen how much that guy can put away?


December 20th, 2011 at 12:40 PM ^

I'm surprised you left out the best Indiana State quote that Staples found:

"...the new coach may have a completely different style of offense/defense that the student athlete no longer fits into," the Sycamores' override request read. "Yet, the institution is 'locked in' to a [five] year contract potentially with someone that is of no 'athletic' usefulness to the program."

Oh no, if we need to offer multi-year scholarships to recruits in order to get them to commit, we'll have to act like an actual institution of higher education instead of a minor league professional team that cuts players whenever it's convenient.


December 20th, 2011 at 12:42 PM ^

The punch line goes: We've established what you are. We're just talking about the price.
<br>The system is corrupt. The only ethical thing to do is to stay out. (See Chicago, U of.) Once you're in, you should shut up about the good of the athletes or education, because it's sanctimonious bullshit. At some schools the athletes are exploited. At other schools (see Rutgers and any other school whose AD gets general funds, including, rarely, UM), the money going to the athletic department is money that could be paying to have smaller classes, newer labs, better IT.
<br>Faculty members are entitled to resent this. You would too, if university athletics made it harder for you to do your job.
<br>But, again, if you're a faculty member, you knew what you were getting into, so whining gets old fast.


December 20th, 2011 at 1:04 PM ^

but one slight correction. The only ethical thing is to stay out, or turn a profit. UM athletics actually pumps money BACK into the university. One quick example is that every football player has a tuition check written to the university from the AD and every one is the value of an out of state student. So the university is getting "extra" cash from Mike Martin's tuition check. M does this in a lot of other ways.

In terms of the vast majority of schools who do not turn a profit, I agree with you. Charging the university to field teams that compete above the level they should does not make sense. It's pride/hubris/whatever that tiny schools who can't afford to be are in D1.


December 20th, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

But Michigan could get the out of state tuition money from the non athletes it turns down. It's a selective, internationally prestigious university; it wouldn't lose tuition money. And from the faculty's point of view the absence of the tiny percentage of athlete admits (non-revenue athletes are occasionally worse than football players in my experience) who can't handle UM's academics or don't care would be an improvement.
<br>UM's AD took in more than it paid out last year. I'd be surprised if they gave a great deal to the general fund; the non-revenue sports eat that up. And within my memory, the AD has had to be subsidized. (Was it Martin who got things back into the black?)
<br>The thing to remember is that in terms of money and athletics and academics UM is an outlier. Only Stanford seems comparable and it's private.


December 20th, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

Question for Brian: How much of an impact with 2011-97 have on SEC oversigning?  Surely not the impact we hope, but will it be significant enough?

I'm sure at Michigan the offer would immediately go from a one-year-with-a-firm-handshake-for-four-years offer to a four-year contract.  Can we expect Steve Spurrier, who thinks he should be able to fire students for not making tackles, to stick with one-year schollies or will he find ways to cut guys on 4-year schollies?


December 20th, 2011 at 1:28 PM ^

First off, I don't have/know the answer to the questions raised here.  I don't think there's a simple answer though.  There's a lot of money out there amongst the BSC schools.  As a UM fan, but a Bowling Green graduate, I come from a Little Sisters of the Poor background.  BG hockey has been on a downward spiral for years and the new Big Ten Conference directly put an end to the CCHA .  BG hockey will continue to slide.  This for the 1984 National Champions who are definately Have Nots.  I'd like to think that the BG hockey program has been good over time for UM and vice versa. [Insert punchline about 3 or 4 guaranteed victories a year here.]

UM will continue to prosper as one of the haves and I'm very thankful for that.  In the end, what will it mean for UM football as they need to schedule 3 or 4 games against the Little Sisters of the Poor each season?  Yes, the Little Sisters will still get their $850K to $1.5MM for the right to take a beating.  Will that ultimately change if this passes?  Will there be another division of D1 schools along the lines of BCS schools who will/can pay players and non-BCS programs who don't/can't.  Again, I don't have the answers but remember the law of unintended consequences.  Also, I've got to believe Title IX will probably raise it's head at somepoint and could lead to more unintended consequences.  No matter what, it will be interesting.