With the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC being granted autonomy, those leagues have the ability to increase the amount they give scholarship athletes. The conference members have plans of working to meet the full cost of attendance for scholarship athletes, most notably those that play revenue sports (football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball).
The question for programs outside of those five leagues: will they look to keep pace and offer better scholarship packages themselves?
While multiple conferences have stated that they’re willing to do so, there haven’t been a lot of announcements from individual programs. One program that has publicly stated that it will meet the full cost of attendance for its scholarship athletes is East Carolina, which did so earlier this month.
The American Athletic Conference member plans to give scholarship athletes in revenue sports an additional $4,025 beginning August 1, with scholarships in equivalency (or Olympic) sports half that amount.
“To compete on a national level and win championships requires a significant investment in the well-being of our student-athletes, more now than ever,” athletic director Jeff Compher said in announcing the full cost-of-attendance move. “The recruiting process, similar to the entire model of collegiate athletics, has evolved to the point where it is imperative to provide this support. The landscape in which we live continues to change, but our resolve to remain at the forefront and in a leadership position should not.”
The new scholarship guidelines will go into effect on Aug. 1 and include academic-related supplies, transportation to and from school and other personal incidentals beyond the traditional tuition, books, room and board.
While the story focuses on the impact that this move could have on the football program, it should also help Jeff Lebo as he works to turn the Pirates into a contender in the American. Making this move keeps other programs from negatively recruiting against ECU, as they’ve made their intentions of doing what they can to “keep up with the Joneses” from a scholarship standpoint clear.
But the question for ECU and other programs in their situation moving forward is whether or not they’ll be able to do so over the long haul. The ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC programs are aided by revenue from television contracts that are far more lucrative than the other leagues competing at the Division I level. That gap will have an impact on collegiate athletics; it remains to be seen just how big that impact is.