NCAA’s Latest Terrible Idea

Bobby Curran
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Friday - November 09, 2011
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St. Louis manager Tony La Russa won two World Series with the Cardinals

In its infinite wisdom the NCAA has decided to allow conferences to decide whether or not to add a $2000 annual stipend to athletic scholarships with the goal of covering the “full cost of attendance.”

What appears to be a noble thought may well fall victim to the law of unintended consequences.

Well-to-do conferences, for the most part BCS conferences, will opt immediately to include the stipend. Less well-heeled conferences will not be able to afford it.

This will result in an even more unbalanced playing field than exists now. The haves will have more, and the have-nots less.

And some student-athletes will immediately rule out any school not paying the stipend.

Over a five-year student athlete experience, we’re talking $10,000. Even within some conferences, the stipend will cause some schools hardship.

Take the Big 12 for example. Iowa State already runs its athletic department at a deficit and needs monies annually from the state to make budget. Fellow Big 12 member Texas hemorrhages money and could afford to pay each scholarship athlete $20,000 a year and wouldn’t miss it. But Iowa State will pass the cost on to the taxpayers in Iowa.

And consider this: UH will be in the Mountain West for football only and the MWC may well decide to pay the stipend. UH’s other sports are in the Big West, which will not be able to afford the bill. UH can’t pay its football athletes without paying the others because of gender equity, and the Big West would prohibit it anyway.

Which would mean UH would become the poor relative in the MWC and at a serious recruiting disadvantage to other conference schools. It will be an absolute mess.

And once the concept of a stipend takes hold, you can see the wealthiest athletic conferences wanting to increase it as a way to separate themselves from other conferences.

All of which would bring yet greater stratification in college sports. Not a good thing at all.

* What a difference a couple of games makes.

After Game 5 of the World Series, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was being second-guessed and criticized from coast to coast. But after the miracle comeback in Game 6 and the Series win in Game 7, La Russa retired last week amid incredible adulation.

You don’t see many sports personalities go out on top, but La Russa can leave the game with three World Series Championship rings and eternal good will in the city of St. Louis.

Now if the Cards can just sign star slugger Albert Pujols.

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