The Pac-12 presidents this week outlined their thoughts for NCAA reform. This week's question: If you could make three changes to the NCAA system, what would they be?
1. Ease transfer rules: This is a huge issue, since what is good for an administrator or coach is apparently not good for the student-athlete. If a head coach can transfer schools without having to sit out a year, then why can’t a student-athlete? I understand the NCAA will rule every now and then in favor of an athlete, such as Josh Shaw, and grant an immediate eligibility waiver, but there is more that can be done to make the situation less punitive. If a student on a chemistry scholarship wants to change schools, are they banned from taking part in lab experiments at their new school?
2. Full cost of attendance: This is an even bigger issue than the transfers. I’ll admit up front that I don’t have the answer for this because there are so many variables to take into account from school to school. Is it a private school or public? Big city or small town? But I would like to see part of the solution reside in the time commitments that are made outside the 20-hours-per-week rule. In addition to the 20 hours of “official” team work that can be put in, there are many hours spent on voluntary conditioning drills, film study, etc. Is there a way to account for that time and have it serve as “work-study,” where the student-athlete could get paid an hourly wage, just like the student who works part-time in a campus office? One can certainly argue that time spent on those voluntary activities helps the financial bottom line of the school as much as the office worker.
3. Football & Title IX: One of the battles that many athletic departments have is trying to balance the scholarship requirements across the board with Title IX, which basically grants equal opportunities to men and women. There is, of course, no issue with trying to meet equality but the problem for an athletic department comes when an 85-man football roster is in play. There is simply no women’s sport that has close to an equal amount of scholarships, so other men’s sports such as baseball and track are forced to utilize fewer scholarships in order to try and maintain balance. There are also five women’s sports – lacrosse, soccer, sand volleyball, rowing and cross country – that do not have a male equivalent sport at USC.
1. Allow programs to provide football scholarships for full cost of attendance:
This proposal was at the top of the letter put together by the Pac-12 university presidents, and for good reason. When you take into account simple living expenditures, particularly in a city like Los Angeles, the current system doesn’t come close to providing enough financial support for an individual. And, given the fact that these student-athletes don’t have time to hold down a job like many of their peers because they’re too busy going to practices and meetings in addition to their classes, it seems only fair to provide an adequate stipend – especially when you consider that, at a place like USC, these players help bring in millions of dollars to the university.
2. Allow programs to provide long-term medical or insurance assistance for those suffering an incapacitating injury in practice or in a game: This one seems like a no-brainer. An athlete who suffers a serious injury while playing a sport in college isn’t only affected by that injury during the time he or she is taking classes at that school, but oftentimes for life. The university should have to pay for the medical costs associated with that injury for as long as it’s an issue.
3. Require that all FBS programs provide four-year scholarships: As it stands now, most programs provide scholarships that are renewable from year to year, meaning an athlete could conceivably be left out in the cold before the completion of his degree. And while that rarely happens, at least overtly, the fact remains that the student-athlete’s scholarship is completely at the mercy of the university. The overriding responsibility should be to make sure that each student-athlete receives his undergraduate degree, and the most effective way to do that is to guarantee that each individual has four years to do so.
1. Increase the stipend for players: I am against paying players to got to college for athletics, but if they can’t get a job during the season, they should be compensated at a rate that justifies the area in which they go to college in order to live a manageable existence. I am still haunted by the late sportswriter and former USC wide receiver Lonnie White, who admitted and was then later chastised for his admission that he sold game tickets just to make ends meet.
2. Allow undrafted players to return to college: This is a tricky one, but a player should be allowed to test the pro market in a way that allows both security for his own situation and protects the university from being held hostage during the recruiting cycle. There are some systems currently in place, but football needs to address this further. Of course, hiring an agent would complicate matters, as it would be difficult to argue that an athlete is considered an amateur when an agent is giving a player a financial advance.
3. Revamp recruiting to prohibit colleges from extending scholarship offers to student-athletes still in junior high school: While this might not help those currently in college, it will be a preventative measure in the future, especially when it comes to creating a bigger stipend. Habit and attitudes regarding recruiting by college coaches, parents of the athletes and the prospects themselves are now being formed at an alarmingly younger age by adult men, offering prospects a scholarship before they have even attended high school. I call it athletic pimping of minors, and it needs to be addressed quickly.