Local D-I schools set to begin providing stipends

A new era for NCAA Division I athletics starts Aug. 1.

Beginning then, universities across the country can offer stipends covering the cost of attendance for student-athletes. This means they will receive their normal scholarship money to cover tuition, room and board and books, plus extra money to cover the cost of travel home on the weekend, buy pizza or a new iPhone, go to the movies or whatever.

The amount of money colleges and universities will hand out to the student-athletes varies. The number of athletes receiving those benefits at each school will also vary.

Men’s and women’s basketball players on scholarship at the University of Dayton will each receive a stipend of $1,250 per year, Athletic Director Tim Wabler said.

All 380 scholarship athletes at Miami University will receive a stipend, Miami University Athletic Director David Sayler said. That’s $1,800 for out-of-state athletes and $800 for athletes from Ohio.

Wright State has not decided on an amount it will offer athletes, Athletic Director Bob Grant said, but athletes on scholarship in men’s basketball and at least an equal number of women’s athletes will receive the stipend. That’s how all schools in the Horizon League are handling the issue.

“This is not a monstrous deal for us,” Grant said. “It doesn’t change how we do business. It doesn’t change our mission statement.”

Ohio State will decide this month how much it will offer athletes, Athletic Director Gene Smith told The Columbus Dispatch in May. Like Miami, the number will vary depending on whether an athlete is from Ohio or elsewhere.

According to a study of the cost of attendance in the Big Ten by PennLive.com, Ohio State’s cost of attendance in the 2014-15 school year was $2,454. That ranked eighth in the conference.

One of Dayton’s top rivals, Virginia Commonwealth, expects to spend close to $500,000 annually on stipends, or on average $4,100 per student, according to a report in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

The numbers run all over the board, Grant said, and that makes it problematic when it comes to recruiting. How does a coach explain the difference to a student who may just pick the school with the higher figure?

“The numbers are everywhere,” Grant said. “I can’t speak for the other Horizon League schools, but I think everyone’s thinking, ‘What’s right? What’s fair? What’s appropriate?’ We know we’re not going to spend with the big boys. I don’t want it to happen. We don’t need it to happen.”

Miami’s scholarship budget will grow by about $375,000, Sayler said. The Mid-American Conference has generated new revenue with an ESPN agreement worth reportedly $8 million per year through 2027 and through the College Football Playoff.

“We’re just taking money from those sources and using them for cost of attendance,” Sayler said. “For us, it wasn’t that big of a hit. Other schools are struggling more with their decisions.”

Miami will stand out from some of those schools by offering the stipend to all scholarship athletes.

“We just think fundamentally if a student at Miami gets a full scholarship, they’re entitled to cost of attendance,” Sayler said. “I think we’re one of the few (in the MAC) that’s doing it for everybody, but I don’t know final numbers. I’d say we were one of five or six that are doing for everybody.”

More Dayton athletes could receive the stipend in the future. Wabler said UD has not taken a position on that yet as it awaits the results of the Ed O’Bannon vs. NCAA case.

The former UCLA star filed an anti-trust class-action lawsuit on behalf of Division I football and men’s basketball players. A judge ruled in favor of O’Bannon last year, opening the door for the cost-of-attendance stipends to be paid and for athletes to earn up to $5,000 per year of eligibility for use of their names, images or likenesses. That money, under the ruling, would be placed in a trust and given to the athletes when they leave school.

The case is currently under appeal.

“I would expect that appeal to be acted on this summer,” Wabler said. “Right now we’re moving forward with men’s and women’s basketball. It may be expanded to other sports. We’re waiting to see how the appeal of the court case plays out.”

Wabler sees this as the next step in changes coming to NCAA athletics. In 2014, the NCAA approved a rule change allowing schools to provide unlimited meals and snacks for athletes. Previously, athletes were limited to three meals per day or a food stipend.

In January, the NCAA increased the amount of money provided to the families of athletes for travel to the College Football Playoff championship game.

“Now you add the cost of attendance stipend,” Wabler said. “Then we’ll see where else it goes. It’s going to be driven by the large five conferences, what makes sense from their end. And there are a number of court cases out there that could impact the NCAA and the institutions and the student athletes. There’s a sea change potentially coming over the next two to five years. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

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