Athletics committee discuss new NCAA measure

BY CINDY GARCIA | APRIL 10, 2015 5:00 AM

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Changes in the way athletics scholarships are calculated have some members of the University of Iowa Presidential Committee on Athletics worried.

“All we hear about athletics are the horror stories,” committee member and UI history Professor Jeffrey Cox said.

He pointed out the UI Athletics Department’s accomplishments, including the feat of becoming self-supporting, with general-fund money going to teaching and research.

“This is a success story, too,” Cox said. “We need to repeat these. For a lot of things, we’ve been doing a good job.”

Despite this, many questions and concerns lie ahead for the Athletics Department as a new NCAA cost-of-attendance measure comes into place.

Lyla Clerry, a UI associate athletics director for compliance, provided an explanation of the rule but admitted, “Just last week, we got new information about how to calculate these things.”

She said the UI has $650,000 allocated to the change.

Current legislation outlines that athletics scholarships are limited to the value of a full grant-in-aid.

This means that tuition and fees, room and board, and required textbooks are all covered for an athlete who has a full scholarship. For athletes who have a partial one, a portion of the amount of these costs is paid. Athletes can also receive non-athletics related aid as long as it doesn’t exceed the cost of attendance.

The new rule outlines that athletics scholarships are limited to the cost of attendance, which will now include tuition and fees, housing and meals, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation.

“When you throw in personal expense and transportations, there’s no true, definitive way to calculate that,” Clerry said. “It’s up to interpretation.”

The NCAA has left the decision of determining what this new cost of attendance will be to the schools’ financial-aid offices. This is why schools have differing figures.

Textbooks, rooms, and meal plans are all directly paid for.

In the future, the extra money coming from the personal expenses and transportation stipend would be paid through monthly installments on their university bill.

The question of whether different sports could have different stipends was also brought up.

However, this would lead to other issues. 

“Most schools that are going to do this are doing it across the board,” said Gene Taylor, the UI deputy director of athletics.

Athletes are also unsure of what the future will bring.

“We’re still trying to answer all these questions before we try to communicate this message to them,” Clerry said.

UI psychology Professor Michael O’Hara expressed doubts about how the new measure would affect the cost of attendance for non-athletes.

Namely, he said the new legislation might be motivation for the Athletics Department to increase the cost of attendance in order to offer more money to recruits.

“I worry that this whole process is going to become perverted,” he said. “This could have significant implications that we don’t anticipate.”

Clerry said that leaving the decision about cost up to university financial-aid offices for precisely this reason.

“How does all of that play out?” she said. “We don’t know. We don’t have access to those numbers. There are a lot of questions about how fair this is, but it’s still to be seen.”

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