During last week’s Athletics committee meeting, Athletic Director Pat Kraft explained the new cost-of-attendance numbers to President Theobald and other trustees.
The $2,500 figure given to student-athletes per year to spend as they please was in the basement relative to the conference they play in, but it didn’t have to be.
Kraft acknowledged the noticeably low number was kept down because the department hopes to preserve money provided by the NCAA “student aid fund” for student-athletes in the event of an emergency situation. The number could be closer to $5,400, but then the NCAA would not provide the department the funding to assist student-athletes with emergency situations.
For example: If a student-athlete loses his or her mother, the NCAA can provide money for airfare, so long as cost-of-attendance isn’t maxed out for that school.
We understand the importance of providing for student-athletes who have emergency situations, but withholding nearly $3,000 from already under-compensated student-athletes—most of whom will not have an emergency situation they cannot afford—is wrong.
The way the department sets up its compensation for student-athletes is similar to that of an insurance company: if a client doesn’t have an accident, they lose money. The biggest difference is, some insurance companies refund those who never use the money spent on the insurance.
Shortly after noting the department’s decision to withhold funds from the student-athletes, Kraft boasted that the department prioritizes financial literacy classes, telling the committee members they use the cost-of-attendance stipends as a “teaching tool.”
If student-athletes are taught financial literacy extensively, then why doesn’t the department trust them to be responsible with the money they deserve?
The football team’s sixth win makes them bowl eligible, meaning the department could see up to $20 million in revenues from that team alone. With that coming into the books, what sense does it make to be so miserly?