INDIANAPOLIS — The scandal-plagued NCAA is moving swiftly in hopes of cleaning up its image.
On Thursday, the Division I Board of Directors approved a package of sweeping reforms that gives conferences the option of adding more money to scholarships, schools the opportunity to award scholarships for multiple years, imposes tougher academic standards on recruits and changes the summer basketball recruiting model.
“It was one of the most aggressive and fullest agendas the board has ever faced,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “They moved with dispatch on it, and I think they’re taking positive steps for schools and student-athletes.”
For decades, outsiders have debated whether scholarships should include more than just the cost of tuition, room and board, books and fees, wondering if it athletes were more susceptible to outside offers of benefits because they didn’t have extra cash. Now they can.
The board approved a measure allowing conferences to provide up to $2,000 in spending money, or what the NCAA calls the full cost-of-attendance. Emmert insists it is not pay-for-play, merely the reintroduction of a stipend that existed for college athletes until 1972. He also compared it to the stipends received by other students who receive non-athletic scholarships.
Some thought the total amount should have been higher. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said studies have shown the average athlete pays roughly $3,000 to $4,000 each year out of his or her own pocket in college costs.
But many believe the measure is long overdue.
“I think it needs to happen or else I think what’s left of the system itself is going to implode,” said Ohio University professor David Ridpath, past president of The Drake Group, an NCAA watchdog.