Mike Slive has been banging the drum for more than a year for his schools to be given the right to offer additional financial aid to their student-athletes. The SEC commissioner has repeatedly spoken of the need to provide full-cost-of-tuition scholarships. He did so again during SEC Media Days in a message that many viewed as a warning shot across the NCAA’s bow. The commish said that view wasn’t “totally inaccurate.”
ACC commissioner John Swofford, long an ally of Slive, spoke yesterday about “the financial well-being of scholarship athletes,” but he seemed a bit more timid in his approach bringing up the idea of “need-based” funding:
“We’ve been talking about this nationally for several years now without finding something that works. It’s very difficult to look at it in terms of a sport — or two sports — just from a legal standpoint with Title IX, and what’s appropriate and what’s legal and what’s moral and how you address that. Should it be based just on need? A lot of people have been supporting of enhancing a scholarship if it’s just based on need…
I’m not for paying players. I don’t think that’s what college athletics is about. But I am for looking — very diligently — at ways to enhance the scholarship itself, whether it’s need-based, or whether it’s a simple stipend, or some other way to approach it such as going to the full cost of attendance.
But you’ve got to be able to find something that enough people can accept and support in order to move it forward. So far we have not been able to do that.”
Need-based increases are not what Slive and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany have proposed in recent years. So why isn’t Swofford following their lead? Well, Slive and Delany happen to captain the two richest ships in the college sports ocean. Swofford, meanwhile, is behind the wheel of the poorest — and we use that term loosely — of the five remaining major conferences.
Slive and Delany know that their schools can and will be able to afford to provide full-cost-of-tuition scholarships. Doing so would also further provide a recruiting advantage for their member institutions. Swofford’s full roster of schools might not be able to afford to buy such an advantage for themselves right now.
We’ll tackle this issue a bit more tomorrow, but for now, we find it interesting that Swofford is talking about “need-based” increases.
As we’ve stated on numerous occasions, we believe the biggest conferences will eventually form their own new division at the deep end of the current FBS pool. Those schools will then provide greater financial assistance to their student-athletes.