Over the past few years, the NCAA has taken tons of criticism for basically not giving much of a crap about the players who fuel its money-printing industrial sports machine.
Now, the organization is attempting to combat that narrative by giving a bunch of money to schools for “new programs that benefit student-athletes in Division I.”
The money will be distributed next spring based on the number of full athletic scholarships a school offers. Here’s an explanation of what the funds will be used for, according to the NCAA’s official release:
“The NCAA Board of Governors approved a one-time supplemental distribution of $200 million to Division I schools, which must be used explicitly for programs that benefit student-athletes. Athletics departments will be permitted to use the funds to create endowments that directly support students, to launch financial literacy and mental health programs, or to expand academic advising and tutoring resources, for example. Additionally, uses can include funding for scholarships up to the full cost of attendance, four-year guaranteed scholarships and unlimited meals and snacks for athletes, all of which have been approved in Division I in the past two years.”
Credit where it’s due, it sounds like this money will help schools help student-athletes, and that’s certainly laudable. Of course, it would also help student-athletes if the NCAA or its schools just directly gave them a cut of the money they help bring in, but no one in the college sports establishment will advocate for that any time soon.
One important thing to note: Between allowing unlimited meals for college athletes, giving conferences autonomy to expand the value of a scholarship and now giving out money meant to benefit the players, the NCAA is certainly responding to its critics. True, they’re probably only hoping to appease opponents to avoid losing the massively lucrative, borderline exploitative status quo, but these steps are better than nothing.