New NCAA Scholarship Reform will Likely do more Harm than Good

By Jeremy Sickel

With the NCAA riddled with scandal recently, it has decided to emphasize a few points it believes will go a long way towards cleaning things up. Conferences will be allowed to add money to scholarship offers, which will aid athletes with living expenses outside of tuition, room and board, books, and miscellaneous fees. Schools will also have the option to award scholarships for multiple years rather than on a year to year basis. Conferences will also be forced to have tougher academic standards for recruits and change the summer basketball recruiting model.

On the surface the changes being made look great. Athletes will receive a little more financial assistance with the stipend and will not be forced out of an education if they don’t live up to the hype athletically. The hope is that the additional aid will result in fewer of the indignities that have turned the NCAA into a breeding ground for uncontrollable messes for years.

Education first, sports second is the mantra of 99% of all student athletes. But misplaced priorities of the remaining 1% has caused a lot of problems, and the modifications that the NCAA has come up with will not even begin to scratch the surface of correcting those ills. That 1% is where the institutions, the conferences and the NCAA make their money – their bread and butter. These particular kids know this and that is why they are treated much differently by their schools and their fans – something of a royal treatment if you will.

The NCAA has to be made up of a bunch of buffoons if they honestly believe $2,000 is going to deter a kid from taking ten or, in some cases, one hundred times that much from a booster. They are insane if they think it will be enough for a kid not to accept benefits that will either swell their swag or help pull their family out of financial hardship.

I am on the fence with the “pay for play” topic, but the amount of money they are talking about doesn’t work for all; and if it doesn’t work for all, why even do it? It will only make the stars look down at the roster fillers and start questioning why that kid is worth the same as he is.

We all recognize Tim Tebow’s financial value to the Florida Gators while a student athlete there. From the merchandise, to the ticket booth, to other sources of future revenue, Tebow’s fame provided the University of Florida a wealth beyond his football scholarship was worth. This is even a factor at smaller schools like Davidson, where Stephen Curry brought his alma mater Davidson some welcomed national attention with a pair of NCAA Basketball Tournament appearances.

What this stipend will create is a more clique-ish, unsympathetic atmosphere than what already exist. When no one got the remuneration, the NCAA had the excuse that the scholarship was enough, that student athletes are in fact being paid with a free education and that is more valuable over a lifetime than money exchanging hands now. The result is that it will simply magnify the fact that certain athletes are worth more than others and generate an adverse effect with the stars needing more, which will not solve the problem of dirty money being injected into amateur athletics.

The NCAA also pointed out that the stipend will more than likely only affect the richer universities because they will be the only ones that can afford to cough it up. The reputation of the NCAA not having parity was slowly starting to erode and this will most definitely widen that divide. For the student athletes not fortunate enough to be offered under the table cash, the extra $2,000 actually matters. They may prefer to go to a larger program and not play as much rather than to a smaller school that will actually give them an opportunity to play and legitimately extend their athletic dreams.

Overall I am in favor of the changes being made. These kids must be held to a respectable academic standing and while doing so, earn the education that serves as the currency for the majority of those that don’t go on to play at the professional level. But the stipend, while a step in the right direction, is misguided in it’s execution. It seems the NCAA is more worried about the seed of the complaints than the bigger picture. They have to do a better job of evaluating the problem before haphazardly offering a solution.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @kcpopflyboy

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