Every Big 12 school will provide more aid for its athletes starting next academic year, the conference announced Monday.
The initiatives include full-cost-of-attendance scholarships and multi-year grants. They will also provide continuing education opportunities, which will allow athletes who leave college before they earn a degree to return and continue working toward graduation while receiving financial aid.
“I am very proud of what our presidents and chancellors have done,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Monday. “They are supported by our athletic administrators and by everybody that is involved in our governance process. I think this is an important step in implementing policies that are in line with those that are required by the 21st century student-athlete. By embedding these things in our bylaws, we put a stake in the ground and we describe by our actions what it is our institutions stand for.”
Kansas State athletic director John Currie echoed those comments.
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“These are welcome enhancements to the student-athlete experience,” Currie said. “The athletic scholarship is more valuable than it has ever been before, as evidenced by the rise of tuition and other things through the years. This is another great step toward enhancing what has been one of the finest student-aid programs in the history of higher education.”
Bowlsby said the NCAA is expected to permit the enhancements as soon as January, but the Big 12 will wait until next fall to put them into action.
Student athletes are currently permitted to receive scholarships that cover their room and board, plus tuition. New rules also allow schools to provide meals and snacks to athletes. But the scholarships do not cover every expense. A full-cost-of-attendance scholarship will guarantee financial aid until athletes’ eligibility is exhausted.
Athletic departments will fund the enhanced scholarships. Currie said it cost K-State $1 million to expand its nutrition options and it will cost K-State the same to increase its scholarships.
“We will be glad to provide that extra benefit next year,” Currie said. “But that will be $2 million more next year than in 2013-14. That money does have to come from somewhere. We will have to assess our expense-line items and make sure our expenditures are appropriate.”
The multi-year scholarship is also a significant change. Most schools currently use single-year scholarships that can be renewed or discontinued at the end of each academic year.
Though most college athletes see their scholarships renewed until their eligibility expires, a multi-year arrangement eliminates the option of early termination by a coach or school.
“This certainly makes a commitment to the student-athlete,” Bowlsby said. “Along with that, the student athlete makes a commitment to the institution. Of course, there is a mutual responsibility for performance on both sides of that agreement.”
It is one of many changes Bowlsby was pleased to announce Monday.
“The Big 12 Conference will continue to be at the forefront of being a change agent in college athletics,” Bowlsby said, “and I am proud we have moved forward with these actions.”