Jalen Harris announced that he signed to play college football at Auburn on Wednesday at the St. James campus in Montgomery, Ala. Mickey Welsh The Associated Press
Jalen Harris announced that he signed to play college football at Auburn on Wednesday at the St. James campus in Montgomery, Ala. Mickey Welsh The Associated Press

Sports

Money for scholarship stipends could become a tool in recruiting battles

The Kansas City Star

February 05, 2015 11:28 AM

UPDATED February 05, 2015 02:43 PM

Like any new rule, full cost of attendance for scholarship college athletes will take time to absorb into the landscape.

But already, the stipend which amounts to thousands of dollars available to the many athletes who signed grant in aids on Wednesday is being used as a chip in recruiting.

“It was talked about and utilized,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said at his news conference on Wednesday. “There’s a discrepancy in what teams will be able to offer based on how they choose to write their formulas. We had teams trying to use that against us because they (will pay) a higher amount. It didn’t work.”

But perhaps in the future, as the policy becomes better known, how much a school can offer above a scholarship could become a tipping point in a decision.

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“It will be a factor moving forward,” Rhoads said.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said the real impact will be felt with next season’s high school seniors, who will be taking recruiting visits in the fall.

“I’m sure in next year’s class it will be a big deal,” Richt said.

In January, the five major conferences, including the Big 12 and Southeastern, voted to provide stipends to athletes to make ends meet. These are for costs above tuition, fees, books, room and board.

Some schools are still in the process of evaluating what they can spend, and the dollar amount will vary from school to school.

Based on its latest financial figures, Missouri expects to offer athletes about $3,100 per year above the value of a full scholarship. The Tigers will budget about $1 million in 2015-16 for the expense, said athletic director Mike Alden.

The revenue will come primarily through football ticket sales, income from the SEC Network, and giving to the school’s scholarship fund.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said his coaches included in the recruiting pitch cost of attendance among other additional benefits available to athletes, like more access to training tables.

“I think it’s very, very good for our student-athletes who work year-round on going to school and being the best they can be, to give them something financially to help them out a little bit,” Pinkel said. “It’s a great time to come in first time playing college football this year and get some of these benefits.”

Full cost of attendance gained some traction on the recruiting trail. Carlos Davis, the Blue Springs product who along with his twin brother Khalil, signed with Nebraska on Wednesday, said recruiters from several schools brought it up.

“A lot of coaches talked about it,” Carlos Davis said. “A lot of players don’t have time for jobs, so this is a little extra money in our pockets.”

At Nebraska, it will mean about $3,600 per full scholarship athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball and cost the university about $925,000.

Among other schools that have announced the value of their stipends, Texas said it will offer between $4,000 and $5,000 and Virginia Tech $2,500.

Ohio State is budgeting $1.6 million and the stipend will be worth $3,000 for in-state athletes and $4,200 for those out-of-state.

Full cost of attendance for athletes at Auburn could be as much as $6,000, with an additional $1,500 if they enrolled in summer school. Athletic director Jay Jacobs told USA Today that the school won’t shy away from using that figure as a recruiting tool.

“We think student-athletes are going to choose Auburn because it’s the best place for them to get an education and compete,” Jacobs said. “But certainly having a higher number than most in the Southeastern Conference is going to be helpful. Having the lowest number of the SEC could be hurtful.”

The Star’s Sam McDowell and Tod Palmer contributed to this story.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BlairKerkhoff.