Big Ten considers pay proposal for student athletes

Submitted by Michigan248 on May 18th, 2011 at 7:29 PM

I think this would be great for players and also help the conference get better athletes in all sports. 

CHICAGO -- Big Ten officials discussed a proposal that would pay athletes to help cover living expenses on top of their scholarships during the league's spring meetings this week.


Big Ten spring meetings wrap-up

Big TenThe 2011 Big Ten spring meetings are in the books.'s Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg take a look back at some nuggets coming out of the Palmer House. Blog



The idea, which is backed by current NCAA president Mark Emmert and was favored by late NCAA president Myles Brand, is to bridge the gap between what athletic scholarships pay and other expenses like transportation and clothing. That difference has been estimated at between $2,000 to $5,000 per player.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said league athletic directors and officials have seriously discussed whether they should use some of their growing TV revenue to pay athletes more.



"Forty years ago, you had a scholarship plus $15 a month laundry money," Delany said. "Today, you have the same scholarship, but not with the $15 laundry money.



"How do we get back more toward the collegiate model and a regulatory system that is based more on student-athlete welfare than it is on a level playing field, where everything is about a cost issue and whether or not everybody can afford to do everything everybody else can do?" Delany asked.



Delany stressed that the Big Ten was merely at the discussion stage, but he added the league is interested in talking to other conferences to see if they also favor such a plan. He acknowledged many schools and conferences across the country couldn't afford to cover those additional expenses, which could run about $300,000 a year just for football and men's basketball players alone.



But some Big Ten officials say if they can help out their athletes, then the concept of using the same rules for all teams should be abandoned. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the stakes are simply higher for schools like his than for those in the MAC or Sun Belt.



"The reality is, if there's cost of attendance and you can't afford it, don't do it," Smith said. "The teams you're trying to beat can't do it either. Don't do it because Ohio State's doing it. That's one of the things schools at that level get trapped into thinking."  




Zone Left

May 18th, 2011 at 7:35 PM ^

Holy shit, if the Big 10 unilaterally does this, I will never complain about Leaders and Legends again. The quotes from Delany and Smith are fantastic! Do what's right instead of worrying about what makes everyone happy. The MAC and Big 10 aren't on the same level and everyone knows it.


May 18th, 2011 at 7:38 PM ^

It's great that the Big Ten is "leading" the way by investigating this possibility.


I think there are two routes that they could go here: They can give players "allowance", like a certain amount of money per week for neccessities, or they could reverse the rule which disallows players from holding jobs. Either way, I think the athletes deserves some help.

Zone Left

May 18th, 2011 at 11:33 PM ^

The Big 10 definitely wouldn't do this alone. I think the Big 10 might talk internally about this and then approach the other big conferences about it. They'd form a consensus and then take it to the NCAA. Long term, it probably leads to a smaller top tier in NCAA athletics, which would probably be a good thing.


May 18th, 2011 at 11:42 PM ^

So your assertion is that we should muscle those smaller schools out?  College football is good for a college.  Even if they're a mid-major, they still get publicity from their games and programs.  It may be expensive to keep them afloat, but obviously they see it as a worthwhile investment, or else they wouldn't have it.  Something like this would create a huge disparity between top programs and not--more or less creating a D-1A and D-1B.

Zone Left

May 18th, 2011 at 11:47 PM ^

My assertion is that the school regents should decide to quit a game they can't compete at that costs them enormous percentages of their budget each year. 

I doubt anyone really has done the research to figure out what happens when schools deemphasize sports. The Ivy League isn't a great example and no large block has deempasized since TV revenue has exploded.


May 19th, 2011 at 10:50 AM ^

They should be the first to do this. They were the first the do instant replay, the first to have their own TV network. Look how fast everyone else follows when the good ideas work. Somebody has to go first. I'm all for them going first b/c of the obvious advantage it will give in recruiting for a year or two until everyone else catches up.


May 18th, 2011 at 7:53 PM ^

im glad they realize the players are making them that money.  ive got no problem for students having all living expenses paid.  $2500mo would be just about the right amount.  

how many student athletes re in the b10?

im guessing about 3000.  3000 athletes * 2500mo * 9mo year = $67,500,000.00yr


May 18th, 2011 at 8:10 PM ^

Once you start handing out money, its going to be very easy to "accidently" over pay a player here or there. Their payment is their free education, thats how it should stay imo


May 18th, 2011 at 8:41 PM ^

Student-athletes already get montthly room-and-board checks if they live off-campus, so they've been getting paid in that way.  I don't think the danger lies in schools themselves paying extra money  (they know that would get them nailed), but in third parties continuing to do so.


May 18th, 2011 at 11:47 PM ^

Have to stop you here - this makes little sense.  When you talk about it being easy to pay players, most people would interpret that to mean it is easy to pay them and keep it secret.  Under what circumstances would it be "easy" to play players if you can't keep it secret?  Obviously it is "easy" to hand anyone money, but of what value is that if everyone knows you did it?

Zone Left

May 18th, 2011 at 11:59 PM ^

What I really meant was that no one from the NCAA is actively watching players or monitoring their spending habits. I could give a star player a $500 handshake every week and no one would know if he wasn't dumb enough to tell everyone. SMU fell apart not because they paid players, but because they paid everyone and it became too big to control.

I'd guess kids get freebies (money, free food and drink, etc) regularly at an awful lot of schools. The only way anyone will find out is if the players talk or the media exposes it a la Yahoo.

Zone Left

May 18th, 2011 at 8:43 PM ^

I'm not sure what the slippery slope is. People aren't advocating paying athletes what they're actually worth to the universities or paying them an amount based on how good they are. This is just a couple hundred dollars a month for clothes and to have fun on the weekends. 


May 18th, 2011 at 10:46 PM ^

But how long until one conference decides to offer more money than another? Than teams are at a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting. And other students don't get money to spend on their own. But those students aren't making the university money? They're the ones purchasing the tickets and memorabilia. Student athletes shouldn't be getting anything that regular students aren't.

NYC Blue

May 18th, 2011 at 11:15 PM ^

Easier said than done.  There are differences in cost of living throughout the country- so do we pick a flat rate, or something normalized to cost of living (never mind that even economists can not agree on calculating cost of living).  It is also unlikely among even the "major" conferences that there will be agreement on how much to pay athletes- not to mention within those conferences themselves. 


May 18th, 2011 at 11:20 PM ^

The schools are just going with their cost of attendance numbers. This is different for each school, but each school has to have theirs approved by the board of regents or an equivalent body, and it exists for each and every undergraduate at the same level. Schools can't just jack theirs up to $20k-$30k per year on top of tuition without serious consequences (likely from the Department of Education at the state and federal level).


May 18th, 2011 at 11:34 PM ^

Exactly. A lot of people would take a look at Michigan (for example) and if the CoA was $70k or something, they would go to UNC or NU or Cal or Texas or whatever. Losing those students isn't worth benefitting the football team a marginal amount for a university administration.

Zone Left

May 18th, 2011 at 11:23 PM ^

Cost of living is already factored into the room and board payments athletes get each month. A UCLA player gets more than a Kansas State player because of that. The number is based on cost of attendance, which is a number that universities are required to publish by the feds. It includes tuition, fees, and a very, very modest cost of living. The feds allow students to borrow up to the cost of attendance. NCAA scholarships cover most of cost of attendance, but they don't quite cover all of it.

I think Michigan's official cost of attendance is around 20K after tuition and fees, which is pretty small--at least to a guy like me who is going back to school with a family.

NYC Blue

May 19th, 2011 at 12:08 AM ^

I guess I am not clear on what this money is meant for.  Saying it is to cover "cost of attendance" suggests that the kids are not able to buy all the basics (food, books, tuition, room, incidentals) to go to college.  But then to refer to it as "fun money" suggests that it is meant to allow them, if not luxuries, at least the fancy headphones, smartphones, playstations, alcohol etc.  Things that are certainly part of the college experience, but not exactly the types of things that should come from the school. 

That being said, if this proposal is implemented by the NCAA as a whole (with a choice for schools to either opt-in or opt-out and form a separate division 1B or something), and the payments are fixed across the entire "top-tier", it makes me a lot more comfortable than I was when I initially read what the Big-10 was suggesting.

The points about cost of living being figured into scholarships is well taken, but I think most kids dont look at the cash value of their scholarship, so the fact that these scholarships vary by school is not appreciated.  But, if you say "Come to Michigan and get $500 more a semester than you would at Clemson", the average 18 year old is not going to consider that the purchasing power is equal at both schools- they are going to go with the extra cash.  The problem is that the system has to both be fair and appear fair.


May 19th, 2011 at 5:40 PM ^

(This is the money above and beyond tuition, room and board, and books.)

Michigan: 2,090

IU: 3,232

NU: 1,845 (not including variable transportation that I'm assuming is assigned by state)

OSU: 5,832

Illinois: 2,510

Iowa: 3,455

Purdue: 2,880

The others weren't easily available, but this gives a good idea. All of them are pretty much in line, with outliers NU and OSU (and OSU might be less, they could be including books, it was tough to tell on their site).

Again, this is what each student is given the option to borrow in order to live on for the year.


May 18th, 2011 at 8:33 PM ^

In theory, this is a great idea. It could definitely work. No matter what your intentions, however, it will reduce parity. You have the chance to make some money, why would you go somewhere you can't? (see SEC football). That being said I absolutely support it, and as long as it is thoroughly thought out and implemented properly it could be a great thing for student athletes and college athletics as a whole, but it could also grey the already fading line between 'amateurism' and 'professionalism'.


May 18th, 2011 at 10:36 PM ^

There isn't parity anyway. The SEC, B1G and Pac, along with Texas and Oklahoma, own everything, with the exception that the Boise/TCU teams of the world get into the formers club on a year-to-year basis every now and then.


May 18th, 2011 at 9:04 PM ^

Teams break the rules now so how could this get dangerous? With or without this people will try and bend the rules but these players deserve a little extra cash for food,gas,bills,hair cuts,clothes,and other misc stuff. I understand some peoples concerns about teams over paying but some already do and its not fair to the teams that dont this could be a great equalizer you just have to think outside the box on this.


May 18th, 2011 at 9:04 PM ^

This is a tremendous idea. I'm not going to complain too much, but the cost of tuition, books, and housing isn't enough for players when they're going to school and have a full-time job.


May 18th, 2011 at 9:05 PM ^

Aside from this being good for the student athletes think of the impact it could have on recruiting. If you're a kid sitting on scholarship offers from Alabama, USC, and Michigan where are you going? My only concern is conferences competing on pay down the road. It would be beneficial to all if the NCAA would step up and put together a plan or a way to cap the pay at $5000. A financial pissing match between conferences wouldn't do anyone, any good.