Stipends: will this really help athletes?

Matt Firpo

Copy Editor

Money—there’s never enough of it, and always too much needed to survive, as poor students who can barely afford to study and work simultaneously. There’s no time for it.

One of the solutions that is offered to students, assisting them financially here at Troy University, is through athletics programs. These systems give hundreds of talented athletes a chance to play the sport they love, as well as attend university to obtain higher education.

According to the official National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) website, over 460,000 student athletes compete in 23 different sports in universities and colleges across the United States. That means that one in every 50 college students is an NCAA athlete, based on a student census in 2015 by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Troy University recently announced that it would begin providing stipends to student athletes to aid their cost-of-attendance. Athletic director Jeremy McClain said there would be $600,000 set aside in the athletics budget to pay for these new expenses.

I was curious as to how these funds are going to be dispensed to the athletes, so I interviewed several different athletes from teams.

Leah Causey, a junior communication major from Las Vegas and a volleyball player, said, “For us, players on athletic scholarships will be paid $2,000 a year.”

She pointed out that this system doesn’t apply to every team, but rather depends on the type of sport that the team is. For example, the track team is made up of athletes who perform individually, so how their payment is determined might be different from a team sport.

Josh Burnham, a senior sport and fitness management major from Columbus, Georgia, echoed Causey’s comments.

“I believe it’s $1,500 a semester that scholarship athletes are getting,” he said.

I couldn’t get an official statement from the athletics faculty and staff. I at-tempted to contact the coaches of some of the sports teams, but was continually referred to athletic administration. They were unable to comment in time for the publication of this article.

This new stipend is an interesting development for the athletics program at the university. I was curious as to how this will affect the way our athletes perform.

One point that should be considered before discussing the stipends is the fact that most universities do not earn money commercially from athletes. Despite the massive amount of advertising and marketing poured into sporting teams and events, most universities do not earn more money than they spend.

According to an article in the Washington Post, 25 of the 48 universities it examined ran a deficit even after a decade of surging profits. These universities were picked from the five most popular conferences in the NCAA.

So, how do these stipends positively affect our athletics program? From a recruiting standpoint, these stipends are an argument for Troy to continue to remain competitive against larger schools such as Auburn and Alabama.

They give more incentive for athletes to attend and play at Troy.

Also, these funds can increase the quality of life for current athletes, helping them be able to better handle the expenses of school.

At the same time, how is the university supposed to handle such a financial load?

Jeremy McClain boasted that these funds were no added load to the sports budget.

“We used some of our external revenue streams to supplement it,” he said.

This might be a sigh of relief for some, but how much of the exorbitant fees that all students pay go toward the athletics programs?

Even if our school doesn’t make money off our sports program, it garners massive amounts of donations. I’ve yet to find a definite number of how much the university sports program earns each year.

Even though this move is made to benefit the athletes, how much of this actually runs in their favor? They work an unbelievable amount in order to perform well in their events, while also working toward earning a degree. Being paid as athletes is small compensation for the amount of work they do.

At what cost does the education come?

Athletes who are not on athletic scholarships still have to work just as hard to play their sports, but are not entitled to the same benefits. These stipends are not extended to athletes who are playing, and sacrificing time in their studies.

Their performances also draw funds to the university via donations. How much of those funds work towards the betterment of our athletes?

Considering the total amount of funds devoted to athletes is still less than head football coach Neal Brown’s yearly salary (which is $660,000, not including bonuses, according to The Dothan Eagle), this raises the question of how much of an improvement these stipends are for the athletes of Troy University.

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