Autonomy Group Adopts Full Cost of Attendance

The first meeting of the autonomy group has resulted in some expected changes and also has provided some interesting insight to the dynamics of the new group as they pass legislation that will be optional for other Division I schools. The proposals adopted potentially will impact the costs of scholarships as well as when scholarships may be taken away.



The headline grabber was legislation that will allow schools to increase the value of scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance as calculated by the Federal government’s financial aid program.

Division I conferences will each individually determine whether to adopt any of the new rules adopted by the group. Conferences may elect to adopt a limited version instead or not adopt the changes at all. The Sun Belt previously authorized members to adopt the $2000 a year stipend that was later voted down by Division I as a whole.

AState athletic director Terry Mohajir says he will be meeting AState’s financial aid director this week to get a better handle on the cost for AState to offer the full cost of attendance amount. He says based on rough estimates the cost for football will be about a half million per year.

The full cost of attendance proposal applies only to “headcount” sports. Any athlete in a headcount sport receiving aid counts as a full scholarship. In equivalency sports athletes may receive a fraction of a scholarship and the total fractions are added together toward the limit on the amount of aid that may be awarded.

AState awards aid in four headcount sports. Football 85, Women’s basketball 15, Men’s basketball 13, and women’s volleyball 12. Offering full cost of attendance in all four sports would presumably cost roughly $650,000 to $750,000 per year.

The gap between the value of the scholarship awarded to a player and the calculated full cost of attendance can be paid to athletes as a cash award. The gap can also vary between in-state and out-of-state students.

STUDENT MEMBERS OF COUNCIL BRING A NEW WRINKLE

As we had guessed when the new structure was adopted, the addition of student-athletes has created some interesting changes in the dynamic.

ESPN.com reports that a proposed concussion protocol was opposed by Ty Darlington, an offensive lineman at Oklahoma. He had asked to send the legislation for further review to push for a more comprehensive program. The move was defeated but it was noted that the proposed protocol was a starting point and minimum standards.

More interesting was the provision that student-athletes not be taken off of scholarship for poor athletic performance.

The proposal passed by three votes (from the 65 schools and 15 student representatives) but ESPN.com reports the most passionate opposition to the proposal came from the student-athletes on the committee who argued that the change could harm team chemistry. One student-athlete argued that the basis of receiving aid was their athletic performance so performance should remain part of the criteria to continue to receive aid.

EXTRA PROTECTION FOR ELITE ATHLETES

The committee also endorsed a proposal to allow athletes to borrow from a discretionary student assistance fund to purchase insurance that would compensate them for lost earnings if an injury prevents them from pursuing a professional career. The premium cost would have to be paid back after leaving school.