NCAA president Mark Emmert doesn't want to get into the slippery slope that is paying players, but he's also acknowledged that changes need to be made to the scholarships athletes are given.
During the national convention of the Black Coaches and Administrators in Tampa Bay last week, Emmert said he'd sit down with college administrators to determine how to supplement scholarships to cover the rising cost outside of the standard tuition.
"The critical notion is that we need to explore whether or not we should be providing in our grant-in-aid the full cost of attendance," Emmert told the group. "It's not a stipend. It's not pay. It's up to a number that the federal government approves as the cost of attendance for financial aid packages. The gap between that and what student-athletes get now tends to be a couple thousand dollars per year."
Emmert discussed the possibility of giving more money to players after commissioners such as Jim Delany and Mike Slive said they supported giving players a stipend -- or pay-for-play. However, while such a proposal might be feasible for the major conferences, the nonautomatic qualifying schools might find themselves priced out when it comes to recruiting since they don't make nearly as much money as their big six counterparts.
Emmert told 790 the Zone in Atlanta on Tuesday that he had no desire to remove the amateur status from student-athletes.
"I'm as adamant as I've ever been about having student athletes be students. We do in fact provide it to many of our universities - full cost of attendance scholarships and financial aid. It's really consistent with everything that goes on inside of universities and it wasn't widely covered in the media. This was something I've been talking about again for six months. The notion of converting student athletes to employees and providing them with a salary and changing their status from one student athlete to 'quasi-professional' that's where I draw the line and I draw it sharply."
Emmert told the Black Coaches and Administrators that he planned to hold a retreat for college presidents and administrators in August in Indianapolis, to discuss ways to provide more financial help to student athletes without blurring the line between amateur and professional status.
But similar to trying to pay players, the cost of adding to each scholarship will still have financial repercussions on schools that don't bring in the revenue of juggernauts such as Texas and Florida.
"For some schools, that would be a severe financial hardship," Emmert said. "They just don't have the resources to do it. But others, it wouldn't be. The question is can we make it permissive to allow schools that have the resources to do it. The concern, of course, is, 'Well, does that provide them with a competitive advantage?' So we need to think that through. On the other hand, denying support that could be very valuable to a student because some can afford it and some can't doesn't seem right either. So we've got to find the right balance."
- Mark Emmert