The Big Ten conference has begun floating a proposal that would help pay student-athletes living expenses above what the college scholarship does, according to report from ESPN.com.
It’s not exactly paying student athletes, which should be done at the highest level, but this would at least be a step in the right direction. Under the Big Ten’s proposal, players might receive between $2,000 and $5,000.
Right now, it’s very possible that a football player or men’s basketball player at the highest level in college sports may not have money to wash clothes, buy a pizza or even have money for a date. Yet, the school is raking in millions thanks to the students' efforts in the athletic arena.
The fact that these young people often come from economically challenged backgrounds and the school does little to help them financially, makes them susceptible to sports agents and other people who may prey on them. And even with payments, some players will still go for the big money and ruin their eligibility but these payments may make some student athletes make a wiser decision.
"Forty years ago, you had a scholarship plus $15 a month laundry money," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said to ESPN.com. "Today, you have the same scholarship, but not with the $15 laundry money.
"How do we get back more toward the collegiate model and a regulatory system that is based more on student-athlete welfare than it is on a level playing field, where everything is about a cost issue and whether or not everybody can afford to do everything everybody else can do?" Delany asked.
Some type of payment system has seemed necessary for years as conferences ink multi-million-dollar deals for television and as conferences become more geographically spread out, putting more stress on student athletes in the classroom and in their respective sports. The Big Ten seems to be the first conference to realize this, or at least seems to be the first to want to do something about it.
Obviously power leagues such as the SEC, Big 12, Big East, ACC and Pac-12 will follow suit if the Big Ten makes it permissible. But this is where we might see a real separation from the mid major conferences that don’t generate the revenue to be able to afford what could be a total of expense in the neighborhood of $1 million per institution each year.
"The reality is, if there's cost of attendance and you can't afford it, don't do it," Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said to ESPN. "The teams you're trying to beat can't do it either. Don't do it because Ohio State's doing it. That's one of the things schools at that level get trapped into thinking."
Contact Terrance Harris at email@example.com.
(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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