Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; May 14

A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning...

Within the next few weeks, a handful of champions will be crowned and the 2014-15 NCAA athletic year will conclude. It’s been quite a year with the advent of Division I college football’s first and successful playoff along with an NCAA basketball tournament that saw Wisconsin apply the brakes to Kentucky’s quest to become the first team since Indiana 1976 to run the table in the semifinals. Yes, it’s been quite a year but this will also be quite an offseason because in addition to dealing with all those ongoing lawsuits, the NCAA is going to have to figure out how to deal with the Cost of Attendance scholarship that goes into effect on August 1. The Ed O’Bannon case and the Northwestern football players’ attempt to unionize are going to seem like a walk in the park by comparison.

Cost of attendance started out as a great idea – give student-athletes a stipend so they can have some cash to cover the costs of going to school that aren’t covered by their athletic scholarships. Go back 20 or so years and athletes used to get a summer job, but playing a sport has become the equivalent of a full-time job and the demands of excellence have all but eliminated such a thing as an offseason, so there isn’t much chance to earn some earning spending cash to last throughout the year. There is merit to a stipend that would give the athletes the extra money they need for gas, to buy personal items or to take a friend out on a date but how much is the right amount? Because there is no uniform standard, this promises to be the NCAA’s next big nightmare.

Just recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education has released a comparison of the published cost of cost of room, board, tuition book and fees – the things covered by an NCAA athletic scholarship – and compared it to the real cost of going to school. In the Southeastern Conference the Chronicle of Higher Education showed the difference between the stated cost and the actual cost of attendance ranges from a high of $5,666 at Tennessee to a low of $2,284 at Kentucky. In the Atlantic Coast Conference, the high is the $5,202 at Louisville and the low is $1,400 at Boston College, which, ironically, is the one school that voted against the cost of attendance stipends when the NCAA put it to a vote.

At Florida, for example, the stated cost of room, board, tuition, books and fees is listed at $17,230 while the actual cost of attendance is listed at $20,550, a discrepancy of $3,320. Florida already operates its athletic program at a surplus and this is before the SEC Network money is divvied up. There are 264.2 scholarships at UF (141.2 for men; 123 for women) so that’s an overall expenditure of $877,120, an amount of money Florida can certainly afford.

There are schools out there that don’t have the luxury of a fiscally sound athletic department. Take Tennessee, for example, has a mountain of debt (more than $200 million). The cost of attendance for its 260.2 scholarships will be approximately $1,471,723. Without the influx of money from the SEC Network, the Vols might have trouble making ends meet.

It also must be noted that not every school thinks the Chronicle of Higher Education numbers are an exact reflection. Kentucky has determined that actual cost of attendance is quite a bit higher than the Chronicle of Higher Education estimates. UK is figuring on a per athlete stipend of $3,330 for in-state students and $3,598 for out of state. If Kentucky is looking at higher numbers, you can bet most of the other schools are seeing the same thing, particularly since there are no guidelines in place to actually limit the stipend.

Also, who is to say that a school such as Auburn, which will have to come up with $5,586 per the Chronicle of Higher Education numbers, might not use its stipend as a recruiting tool? Auburn and Georgia quite often lock horns on the recruiting trail in just about every sport. The difference between what the Chronicle states as Auburn’s cost of attendance is a full $2,988 more than Georgia ($2,598). Would Auburn coaches point out such a significant difference in stipends to recruits? You know the answer to that one already.

Consider also the $5,126 cost of attendance differential at Mississippi State. Starkville probably has the lowest cost of living of any SEC college town so its stipend will go a whole lot further than the $2,780 a Vanderbilt athlete would get for living in Nashville under the Chronicle estimates.

When the SEC meets in Destin for its spring meetings in a couple of weeks, cost of attendance will certainly be discussed, but with no assurances that the other Power 65 schools are going to make any changes, the SEC will almost surely stick with the status quo.

Now, there is always the chance that everybody will be happy with these figures and no one will complain and there is always that remote chance that recruiting will clean itself up without prompting and no one will ever try to lure some stud athlete to their school with the temptation of a stipend that could be thousands of dollars higher. It’s possible.

Of course, there is always that chance that donkeys will fly.

Here are the estimated costs for both the SEC and ACC.

Southeastern Conference

(Published cost; Total cost of attendance; Difference)

1. Tennessee $23,710/$29,376 ($5,666)
2. Auburn $23,758/$29,164 ($5,586)
3. Mississippi State $17,294/$22,420 ($5,126)
4. Ole Miss $18,204/$22,704 ($4,500)
5. South Carolina $21,414/$25,565 ($4,151)
6. Arkansas $19,064/$23,066 ($4,002)
7. Missouri $21,040/$24,704 ($3,664)
8. Florida $17,230/$20,550 ($3,320)
9. LSU $24,192/$27,288 ($3,096)
10. Alabama $24,542/$27,434 ($2,892)
11. Vanderbilt $61,470/$64,250 ($2,780)
12. Texas A&M $19,764/$22,470 ($2,706)
13. Georgia $20,082/$22,680 ($2,598)
14. Kentucky $21,464/$23,748 ($2,284)

Atlantic Coast Conference

(Published cost; total cost of attendance; Difference)

1. Louisville $19,142/$24,344 ($5,202)
2. Florida State $17,800/$21,684 ($3,884)
3. Clemson $23,404/$29,164 ($3,608)
4. Pittsburgh $29,024/$32,324 ($3,300)
5. Miami $59,162/$61,942 ($2,780)
6. Virginia Tech $20,960/$27,092 ($2,770)
7. Virginia $24,528/$27,092 ($2,564)
8. North Carolina State $19,938/$22,368 ($2,430)
9. Wake Forest $62,140/$64,540 ($2,400)
10. North Carolina $21,884/$24,120 ($2,236)
11. Duke $61,793/$63,999 ($2,206)
12. Notre Dame $62,825/$64,775 ($1,950)
13. Georgia Tech $23,028/$24,748 ($1,720)
14. Syracuse $59,610/$61,242 ($1,632)
15. Boston College $61,622/$63,022 ($1,400)

FACILITIES UPDATE AROUND THE SEC

Alabama: They’re finishing up a $42.6 refurb of the baseball stadium.

Arkansas: The $300 million, 30-year plan to keep facilities at the top includes building a brand new practice facility for basketball and a new academic center. Arkansas continues to upgrade its club seating for football, which has seen the capacity increase to 80,000 since 2013.

Auburn: Auburn has plans to spend $100 million to upgrade Jordan-Hare Stadium and add another 3,000 club seats. Jordan-Hare will also get new locker rooms and a $14 million video board that might be the largest in the nation.

Florida: An indoor practice facility is being built, but the proposed $50 million renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center was pushed back one year.

Georgia: The new indoor practice facility will be ready to go in August. A new game day recruiting center is being added at Sanford Stadium. There are upgrades to the tennis and golf facilities ongoing. Baseball just had a $12 million upgrade to Foley Field.

Kentucky: The $110 million refurb of Commonwealth Stadium will be completed in time for September. Capacity will be reduced by 6,000 overall (to 61,000) but there will be more club seating and more chairbacks. A much-needed $15 million upgrade will be spent for the baseball stadium, the worst ball yard in the SEC. A new academics center is being built and athletic housing is being expanded and upgraded. Kentucky athletics will pay for $60 million of the $100 million cost for the new on campus science center.

LSU: The football center is being completely renovated and a nutrition center for athletes is being built. At Tiger Stadium, which was expanded to 102,000 last year, the club seating is being renovated. LSU athletics will donate $36 million to the general academic budget.

Mississippi State: A $40 million facelift for Dudy-Noble Field (baseball) will begin in the summer with the intent to make this the nation’s best college baseball stadium. There will be more upgrades to the football stadium, which expanded to 61,331 last year.

Missouri: A brand new football complex is being built in the south end zone. Missouri will build a new indoor practice facility to replace the old one and there are plans to expand the football stadium to 80,000 within the next few years. Current capacity is 71,000.

Ole Miss: The brand new basketball arena will open up in December. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is being turned into a bowl with capacity increased to 65,000. The Manning Center is also being renovated, all part of a $175.5 million commitment to upgraded the entire athletic plant.

South Carolina: The new indoor practice facility will open this summer along with a new coaches support building. As part of the athletics village master plan, track, tennis, softball and soccer are seeing their facilities upgraded and expanded.

Tennessee: A new athletics residence and dining hall is under construction. Former Vol Peyton Manning donated $3 million to endow a football scholarship and to upgrade the football locker room.

Texas A&M: The $485 million renovation of Kyle Field will be completed in time for the 2015 season. The official capacity will be 102,513. The entire renovation was paid for in cash.

Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt opened a new multi-purpose indoor facility that is available for football, soccer, lacrosse and track.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Should there be a uniform stipend amount given to each athlete or should that be left up to each school to determine what is the actual cost of a scholarship?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

When Blood, Sweat and Tears reorganized after the departure of Al Kooper, the band’s first album, Alex Chilton (Box Tops), Stephen Stills and Laura Nyro were all considered for the role of lead vocalist before a decision was made to add David Clayton-Thomas to the band. The new band’s first album was called “Blood, Sweat and Tears” and it beat out The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” for the Grammy Awards Album of the Year for 1968. The album hit #1 on the Billboard charts and went platinum four times.


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