ECU Takes On Full Cost of Attendance

GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina University's commitment to successfully compete at the highest national level and to serve in a leadership role will continue to be defined by emphasizing the well-being of its student-athletes.

The ECU Department of Athletics on Wednesday released its intent to implement an aggressive, but financially-responsible two-year plan that would allow student-athletes to be provided the full cost-of-attendance as part of their athletic scholarship beginning Aug. 1.

While tuition, fees, books and room and board remain the staple of a full scholarship, expenses such as academic-related supplies, transportation to and from school and other personal incidentals meeting the federal definition of "cost-of-attendance" can now be included with the value differing from campus to campus.

The decision to increase the value of NCAA scholarships was passed by vote on Jan. 17 by institutions in the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pacific-12 and Southeastern Conferences, but does not require the remainder of Division I schools to distribute the additional stipend.

The American Athletic Conference, along with other Group of Five conferences, support cost-of-attendance scholarships and will allow individual schools to determine how to implement it on their respective campuses.

East Carolina Director of Athletics Jeff Compher said that while the process will be reliant on fiscally-sound decision making, reallocating existing funds and enhancing all revenue opportunities, the choice to assist Pirate student-athletes is congruent with the department's strategic plan. Compher also cited the support and collaboration of ECU head coaches, compliance and financial aid staffs, as well as the American Athletic Conference during the extensive planning and development segment of the plan.

"To compete on a national level and win championships requires a significant investment in the well-being of our student-athletes, more now than ever," Compher said. "The recruiting process, similar to the entire model of collegiate athletics, has evolved to the point where it is imperative to provide this support. The landscape in which we live continues to change, but our resolve to remain at the forefront and in a leadership position should not.

The cost-of-attendance figure, which covers one academic year, for each institution is determined on its campus and based on a federal financial aid formula. Costs for schools in the aforementioned Power 5 conferences range from $1,400 to $5,666 according to recent data compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

East Carolina's figure for the 2015-2016 year has been set at $4,025.

The addition of the cost-of-attendance allowance increases the total value of an East Carolina scholarship to $20,694 for in-state students and $36,268 for out-of-state students, making the responsibility of funding the entire package a challenging endeavor. In all, with 240.2 scholarships spread over ECU's 19 sports, it will require an additional $970,000 in student-athlete scholarship funding.

Compher's ambitious approach details a two-year allocation phase that would ultimately enable full coverage across the board for all of ECU's athletic programs.

Initially, the football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball programs will receive the full amount of $4,025 per scholarship, while the remaining sports will be appropriated $2,025 for each scholarship in 2015-16 that will total approximately $720,000. All Pirate programs will be allotted $4,025 ($970,000) at the start of the 2016-2017 academic year to accomplish comprehensive coverage.

"We will need to maximize revenue and minimize expenses," Compher explained. "There will certainly be some belt-tightening, and while we'll address critical needs, the understanding that needs to be in place is that our student-athlete resources will remain a point of emphasis. We will continue to be responsible stewards and utilize revenue opportunities from the outstanding support we receive from the Pirate Club and our loyal fans though ticket sales. In addition, we will look for other ways to create revenue opportunities.”

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