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Publish date: Dec 15, 2011

Implementation of $2,000 allowance suspended until January

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
NCAA.org

The new rule allowing Division I institutions to give some student-athletes an additional $2,000 miscellaneous expense allowance has been suspended until the Board of Directors convenes in January.

As of Dec. 15, enough schools – 125 – have called for an override of the legislation to prompt the automatic suspension under NCAA bylaws.

The reasons the schools cited fell into four areas: how quickly it was implemented, perceived impact on competitive equity, application of the allowance for student-athletes in equivalency sports, and implications for Title IX.

“Based on conversations I have had, I am confident that there remains a very high level of support for this permissive legislation to provide better support for our student athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said.

 “I am also confident that we can develop implementation changes that will address most of the concerns raised by many of our campus leaders.  It is absolutely critical that we implement this legislation, for example, in a way that supports Title IX and women’s athletic programs.  Modification of the legislation language can certainly achieve this essential requirement.  Similarly, changes can be made that will clarify how this legislation can be implemented more smoothly and with less confusion.”

The Board, which will meet in Indianapolis Jan. 14, will have several options. It can do nothing, which keeps the suspension in place until an override vote occurs. It can reconsider its adoption and eliminate the rule.

Or, it can alter the proposal in some way to try to address the concerns of those asking for the override. Changing the rule would create new legislation that is then subject to another 60-day override period.

The legislation, 2011-96, allows institutions to award student-athletes who receive the value of a full scholarship an additional $2,000 or the institution’s cost-of-attendance, whichever is less. The rule also allows student-athletes to receive additional institutional aid up to the value of a full scholarship without counting against team limits, a key provision that also is suspended.

Many of those objecting to the legislation cited the rapidity of adoption as their concern. The rule was generated in the wake of the Division I Presidential Retreat called by Emmert to address major issues in Division I. The issue of student-athlete well-being was assigned to one presidentially-led group, and the concept of the miscellaneous expense allowance was one it supported.

Other schools who objected to the legislation stated they can’t afford the additional expense but feel it will be necessary to find the money to pay for it in order to compete for recruits.

A final concern that could be addressed by the Board is the rule’s impact on an institution’s Title IX compliance. Some schools look at their scholarship levels and believe that because they have more male student-athletes playing in sports with a financial aid model that grants a full scholarship than females, they are unable to offer the miscellaneous expense allowance and comply with Title IX.

The Board could address Title IX concerns in two ways:

  • A school could choose not to award the miscellaneous expense allowance to all student-athletes in head count sports, in order to keep the number of male and female student-athletes receiving the benefit equal. This will create some inequities within teams that have never had to confront that issue, a concept that is unpalatable to some.
  • The provision allowing student-athletes in sports that allow less than a full scholarship to accept other aid to bring them up to the value of a full scholarship without counting against team limits has the potential to get more female student-athletes eligible for the benefit. Title IX requires essentially the same number of dollars to be spent annually on athletically related financial aid in all men’s sports and all women’s sports. The miscellaneous expense allowance is considered athletics aid, but the NCAA is still waiting for clarification from the Office for Civil Rights on this issue.

The Board also could alter the proposal to allow for easier compliance with Title IX by allowing schools to award a percentage of the miscellaneous expense allowance commensurate with the percentage of a full scholarship a student-athlete receives. This concept was suggested by the FBS Faculty Athletics Representatives group as a way to help schools comply with federal law without having to make decisions that would create disparity in head-count locker rooms.

Board action in January also is needed to avoid a potential disparity with the 2012-13 recruiting classes.  Any allowances offered in writing during the November early signing period will be honored, according to Division I Vice President David Berst. Nearly 10,000 prospective Division I student-athletes signed National Letters of Intent for next year during the early signing period in November.

Unless the Board takes some action to alter the proposal, prospective student-athletes who sign with schools during the upcoming signing periods in February and April will not have the option to receive the additional $2,000 allowance.