With the advent of huge television and sponsorship money scrutiny of the NCAA's "amateurism" policies have come under attack, especially with the large amounts of cash being generated by major NCAA football and basketball programs. When the NCAA granted the Power Five conferences relative autonomy, the decision was made to share athletic profits with the athletes. The “Power Five Conferences” include the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 12, and SEC. Some institutions in the Power Five are paying over $5000 per year to student athletes. This scheme is called, cost of attendance (CoA) or grant-in-aid - euphemisms for “paying student athletes” to play. Amounts vary for private universities. TCU and BYU pay the most at $4,700 and $4,500 annually to their full-scholarship athletes.
In order to compete, many of the non-Power Five conferences are starting to pay their athletes, too. In the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), Colorado College, North Dakota, and Miami are providing CoA to their scholarship athletes this year. North Dakota is offering $3,500 to all their scholarship athletes with payouts commensurate with full (100% = $3,500) or partial scholarship (example: 50% scholarship = $1,750) awards. Also, every athlete will be getting CoA, even in non-revenue sports. Other schools are making up their own guidelines, amounts, and requirements. Depending on the scheme, some teams may be paid differently than other teams at the same university. Some athletes on the same team may be paid differently than their teammates. Teams in the same conference may have different payment schemes. The gulf further widens between “regular students” and the paid student athletes.
The CoA payments are relatively inexpensive for the Power Five conferences. They have huge TV money and multiple profit generating sports. The PAC 12 just signed the richest 10-year TV deal with ESPN – 2.7 BILLION dollars over the next 10 years! Some non-Power Five state universities have joined the battle, using taxpayers dollars. In the NCHC, a private school like CC with a limited D-1 menu of athletic programs and a very high endowment can easily write a check. Other private institutions with larger endowments than DU, stronger conferences affiliation or better revenue streams can join the CoA battle with little or no effect.
The result will be the stratification of D-1 universities - some willing and able to buy the best available talent while the unwilling or unable watch hopelessly.
Tomorrow in Part 2: What is DU Doing?