With the largest collegiate athletic conferences pushing to allow extra financial benefits for players, smaller schools like WKU are wondering how such changes would impact their bottom lines.
The issue of increasing compensation for college athletes is being discussed this week at an NCAA summit in San Diego. A group of high-profile conferences wants the ability to grant stipends that would pay for costs not covered by athletic scholarships.
NCAA President Mark Emmert recently said he believes such a stipend plan will soon become a reality.
WKU athletic director Todd Stewart says nothing is set in stone yet about how such stipends would be used.
“And that would really primarily just be travel, particularly if they live further away—the cost of traveling home and back to campus. That’s not covered. Maybe clothing, food that’s not covered in the meal plan--things like that.”
The NCAA is not holding a vote on the extra compensation issue at this week's summit. However, Stewart says WKU is preparing for possible changes as it enters Conference USA in the fall.
“They actually, at one of their most recent meetings, passed legislation that said they would be in favor of enabling their schools to provide up to $2,000 (per stipend). You wouldn’t necessarily have to do that. The other part is, it would have to be determined to what athletes…it is just for those on full scholarships, is it just for those in certain sports?”
Stewart says the changes being discussed by NCAA member schools wouldn't compel each program to offer stipends. Instead, the proposals would give each school the option to award stipends up to a certain amount.
Still, the WKU athletic director said if and when the rules change most schools will feel pressure to award some form of extra stipend in order to compete for the best athletes.