NCAA President Mark Emmert has only been on the job officially since November, but as many have pointed out - there has never been a more tumultuous time in college sports. From player and coach scandals to the ongoing criticism of the Bowl Championship Series (and scandal within the BCS), it seems that many of the pillars of the NCAA have come under more scrutiny in the last year than ever before.
One particular hot-button topic recently endorsed by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and SEC commissioner Mike Slive is the idea of discussing "full cost scholarships" for student-athletes. Many people believe that the amount of money given to student athletes in their scholarships does not cover the full "cost of living" during their time at the college or university. Emmert was a guest on Mayhem in the AM on 790 the Zone in Atlanta on Friday, and weighed in on student athletes being paid.
"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.”
What Emmert believes is not "covered well by the media" includes non-athletic scholarships offered by universities. Many "full cost of attendance" scholarships include stipends for extra living expenses. The argument, of course is that providing such stipends for student-athletes would jeopardize their amateur status. Not to mention, current requirements under Title IX legislations would require for thousands upon thousands to be poured into the program by universities to ensure balance is maintained among the different athletic teams.
When you listen to the interview (you can stream the MP3 from 790 The Zone here), Emmert goes on to defend the swag from bowl games with the "tradition of college football." The issues at hand are present because they were not considered when the rules were established in the "tradition of college football." Now we are dealing with the intersection of the "tradition of college football" and the "business of college football."