NCAA Board of Directors looks to add $2,000 stipend to scholarships; focus on strict recruiting changes

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Just like the U.S. 12 monthly economic indicators that are released by the Economics and Statistics Administration, the NCAA has brought about a change due to recent indications.

On Thursday, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved a comprehensive reform package that allows conferences to add more money and multiple years to scholarships.

However, the much-needed change also bolsters the academic recruiting standards as well as modifies the summer basketball recruiting formula.

The meeting has been at the forefront for the past few years and begs the question: Should collegiate athletes receive more money above and beyond their scholarships?

In the past, an athlete's scholarship covered tuition, room and board, fees and, yes, the ever-increasing market on textbooks.

It's only been two-and-a-half months since NCAA president Mark Emmert informed university leaders that the time is now to clean up collegiate sports, according to ESPN senior college basketball analyst Andy Katz.

Another aspect to the change is a more-intense focus aimed at the Annual Progress Rate, which is governed by the NCAA.

This past year, the University of Connecticut, the 2010-2011 National Champions, did not meet this requirement.

Under the new rule, academic institutions must meet a two-year average of 930 or a four-year average of 900.

This annual report measures the academic performance of student athletes.

Conferences will now vote on whether or not to add a $2,000 stipend to scholarship offers, as well as extend the duration of the scholarships.

Emmert came out last week and said that he was in favor of an increase in the allowable money, which the NCAA refers to as full cost-of-attendance, according to Katz.

The shift in focus to academics has been a long time coming.

Connecticut's men's basketball program, which is no stranger to controversy, scored an 826 for the 2009-10 academic school year.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, a UConn official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the data is not official until May 2012, said that the score for the 2010-11 school year would be approximately 975, which would not be enough.

This would give the national champions a two-year average of 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5.

The time is now to hold student athletes accountable for their grades.

If the conferences want to increase the stipend amount -- then shouldn't the athletes be held on -- pardon the pun, the same playing field as the rest of the student body?

After all, these athletes get to attend a major university free of charge.

They are receiving a first-class education, sometimes not even earning their grades or GPA.

Dr. James Gundlach, director of Auburn University's sociology department, told the New York Times in a 2006 interview, that "athletes were given high grades from the same professor for sociology and criminology courses that required little or no work and/or attendance."

According to the Times, 18 members of the 2004 football team, which went undefeated and finished the season as the No. 2 team in the nation, took 97 hours of these directed-reading classes which helped athletes raise their GPA as well as improve their academic eligibility.

To be a Division I student-athlete should be viewed as a privilege, without receiving unnecessary privileges.

The last thing that the NCAA needs to look at is directing more funds to the association's highly questionable athletes.

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