January 23, 2009
Today's question comes from reader Ryder Kouba -- a fake name, perhaps, but a good question:
As a grad student who is struggling to find funding (Worst. Grad Student. Ever.) I was curious about how scholarships work financially. I assume that universities actually have to pay the tuition for an athlete rather than not having said athlete on the books (particularly at state schools). But how does this work for out of state and in-state tuition? It seems that programs like Oklahoma would simply cost more since they have a lot of out-of-state players (insert OU cheating joke here). Are schools ever limited from recruiting out of state players because they simply can't afford to?
Along these lines, how are stipends determined? I assume a USC football player is receiving more per month than one at Iowa State due to cost of living differences. I would be interested also in which schools give their players the most and least per month.
Every school is different, according to an assistant A.D. type I talked to from a large, public Pac-10 school, but athletes at public schools are definitely on the books. In the case of self-sustaining athletic programs, the athletic department will write a check to the university from its scholarship fund on behalf of the athlete, and the process from the university's perspective is handled exactly the same way it would be for any other student. All scholarships are awarded and ultimately funded by the school, though the NCAA also pays for some portion of scholarships through its various revenue-sharing arrangements, the largest of which draws from the vault of the basketball tournament's multi-billion-dollar broadcast deal with CBS.
Surprisingly enough (to me, anyway) out-of-state tuition does apply to athletes, according to my source, and out-of-state athletes are more of a drain on funds: "It's more expensive for a university to pay for scholarships for out-of-state athletes, no question about it." This is an advantage for private schools, where "tuition is just tuition," though most public schools probably don't take the difference into account when they go recruiting out-of-state -- not in the big sports, anyway, where you can never afford to scrimp on talent. My guy said he's never known a school to discourage out-of-state recruiting to keep costs down, but it's definitely possible, especially when so many athletic departments are beginning to tighten the belt. Schools would save on travel and lodging for the recruiter, too.
Stipends vary from school to school, as well, based on a formula that takes into account the room and board and other standard costs for the average student at the university. So large urban schools will pay a little more -- for example, the room and board of a typical Iowa State student is in the neighborhood of $5,000 per semester; at UCLA, it's over $12,000 per semester. A couple years ago, USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett's monthly housing stipend in Los Angeles was $960 when he was admonished for living in lavish digs with Matt Leinart, mostly paid for by Leinart's father, that cost over $3,800 a month. I don't know the real estate market in Iowa, but I did go to college in the middle of nowhere, so based on my experience I suspect a kid in Iowa State would probably look at a $960 apartment in Ames about the same way Jarrett did the luxury pad in L.A.
So, yes, players in urban areas and other expensive locales will do a little better with their stipend (although I'm sure the coaches never mention this on recruiting visits).
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If you have a question for CFB Explainer, send it our way: sundaymorningqb-at-yah00, etc. No subject is too arcane (well, maybe some, but give it a try, anyway). Picture of legendary Iowa balla Dominique Douglas at home in 2007 via Black Heart Gold Pants.