National Collegiate Athletic Association President Mark Emmert said he will push for more financial support for student athletes that would help them cover expenses such as laundry and transportation home.
While stating that he is steadfastly opposed to compensating students for playing sports, Emmert said he wants to restart a discussion that was proposed by his predecessor, Myles Brand, at college sports’ governing body.
“I want to draw a very clear line between covering the legitimate costs of attendance at a university and paying student-athletes to play games,” Emmert said in a telephone interview. “This is not about pay-for-play. This is about whether we are providing appropriate support for these students.”
USA Today reported Emmert’s interest in addressing student athletes’ expenses. He said he plans to bring up the issue at the NCAA’s April board meetings.
Emmert’s comments come as college sports are getting record television contracts. The NCAA last April signed a 10-year, $14 billion television contract with CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Sports to air the college basketball men’s tournament. Football’s Bowl Championship Series last year began the first season of a $125 million-a-year accord and several college conferences signed their own television deals.
Under the current NCAA mandate set decades ago, student athletes can receive scholarships that cover tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies. Federal rules allow for schools to provide additional aide which could include ancillary expenses such as transportation, laundry and clothing.
“There is often a gap, it varies from school to school,” said Emmert, who was the president of the University of Washington before joining the NCAA. “It typically runs around $2,000 or $2,500, and so the question is do we want to close that gap so we are providing student athletes with the full cost of attendance.”
Emmert last April succeeded Brand to become the fifth NCAA president. Brand, who died in 2009, brought up the proposal without success.
“If you add $2,000 or $3,000 or $4,000 to the cost of an individual scholarship and multiply that by all the athletes in Division-I, that’s a lot of students, so many universities look at this and say, “Gee, we couldn’t afford that,” Emmert said. “I just want to put it on the table as a conversation topic.”
There is no timetable for such legislation, which could take more than a year to gain approval, if it does at all, Emmert said.