Updated: Cost of Attendance: Just the Facts

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Updated 1:35 PM: Although the Washington Post article linked below states “Last week, the ‘Power Five’ conferences … passed legislation that will allow schools to provide stipends for their athletes ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 per year,” that is apparently not a hard upper limit, as the initial version of this article interpreted. — WNS

Here are the basic facts about how Virginia Tech will deal with the Cost of Attendance (COA) provisions put in place by the NCAA’s five autonomous “power conferences.”

All data comes from the following links:

Now here are the particulars:

  • VT will pay COA of about $2,500 per year, for basic living expenses, such as laundry, travel, entertainment. (Updated 4/10/15 – the number is actually going to be $3,280 for in-state student-athletes and $3,620 for out of state student athletes – click here).
  • COA amount is determined by federally-created guidelines that calculate the full cost of attending a university. All schools’ COA will be based on the federal guidelines.
  • VT is not allowed to pay more than the $2,500 sum, calculated per the federal guidelines.
  • VT’s COA payout of $2,500 puts it “middle of the pack” in the ACC, per Whit Babcock.
  • All scholarship athletes in all sports at Virginia Tech will receive COA.
  • Athletes on partial scholarship will receive a share in proportion with their scholarship (75% scholarship athlete will receive 75% of COA).
  • VT has 195 athletes on full scholarship and 196 on partial scholarship.
  • COA will cost Virginia Tech about $900,000 per year.
  • Tech’s athletic scholarships for 2014-15 cost $12.2 million. The $900k will be in addition to the $12.2 million next year, plus whatever increases occur in tuition, fees, etc.
  • Tech’s athletic expenses in 2013-14 (most recent available numbers) were $73 million.
  • VT has cash reserves to cover initial COA expenses, but long-term, the Hokie Club will be tasked with raising the extra $900k.
  • Student athletic fees will not be increased.

Notes on Scholarships

Scholarships “may be awarded on an annual or multi-year basis.”

Tech will also offer four-year scholarships for “deserving” athletes, though Tech AD Whit Babcock said he believes all will eventually receive the four-year provision.

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15 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. This is going to get out of hand quickly. And there’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube. Does ANYONE believe this has ANYTHING to do with compensating the athletes for expenses?! Stop calling it COA and just call it a sign-on bonus, because that’s what it is.

    $2500 is more money than a lot of these kids have ever seen all at once. And Will is right, if you offer them $3800 that’s ALL they’ll need to know about your school. Despite the fact that $1300 is a relatively small amount of money to base a life-decision on. Are we really supposed to believe these kids are going to dump their stipends into a special account and only draw from it when they do laundry or gas their car up for a ride home? One way or another, most of it will be used to by LCD TVs, game systems and amplifiers.

    The cap is $4000 this year, but you can BET that will go up. Sports programs like ours will always be chasing after the schools that pay out the maximum. On principle I think we should either pay the max ourselves or pay nothing at all. Either you believe in this new way of doing things or you don’t: Go big or go home. But don’t spend all that money just to set yourself up for failure. That’s stupid.

    As for me, I can’t support this. College football has become what we used to loathe. We’re all making excuses for why it has to be this way, but it wasn’t that long ago we all scoffed at FSU for giving away $6000 worth of free shoes to their players. Free-Shoe-U, remember? Now we’re all doing it. In fact, that $6000 isn’t enough to buy 3 players above board today.

    So here we go. It’s an all-out arms race that will consolidate power in the biggest schools with the biggest alumni base with the deepest pockets. We’re in the middle of the pack in the ACC? Great. Gotta love that quote. Is that really where our fan base wants to be?

    1. Yes, we can all bet that the COA limits will go up, but only as cost of living actually goes up (per inflation). Schools like FSU, Alabama, OSU won’t be able to arbitrarily say “Hey, we’ve got plenty of money, let’s raise our stipend to $6000 so we’ll attract all the good athletes.!” No. The limits are set by the feds, so they will only rise if the cost of living rises. For example, the cost of gas, groceries, supplies, etc. will have to go up locally in the Tallahassee, Tuscaloosa, Columbus areas for them to get that “edge”. The important thing to remember is that the major problem with all of this is the fact that players will take a superficial look at the stipend numbers. Schools on the higher end of the stipend amounts will use it in recruiting by saying “Look how much more money you’ll get by coming here!” without mentioning the fact that everything costs more at their particular school. Schools on the lower end will need to say “Look, you don’t get as much money, but you also don’t need as much money to live here.” That problem will get exacerbated by the students not using the money for the intended purposes and instead buying TVs, gaming consoles, bling, etc., which all cost the same no matter where you live. So then, of course, it makes sense to go where you get more money. What really needs to be mandated is for the athletes to have to prove they spent that money on approved expenses. For example, if they pulled out $1500 to buy a new flat-screen TV, they’d have to figure out a way to fudge receipts or whatever to prove that $1500 went towards gas, groceries, school supplies, etc.

      Some other comments about your post:
      – Yes, I believe the intended purpose is to compensate student-athletes for expenses. Do I believe it is being executed the best way possible? Not entirely.
      – Student-athletes are not going to blindly base their life decision on a difference of up to $2000 (currently, with min/max of $2000/4000 respectively). They’ll narrow down their list to the schools that give them the best chance to excel at their sport, and if applicable, have the most success at the professional level. Then, when it comes to a handful of choices that are competing at roughly the same level in their minds, they will see the dollar signs and possibly make their choice off of that.
      – You seem to be forgetting the fact that the schools don’t get to choose what maximum they can pay out. It’s set at the federal level. For the COL in Blacksburg the max is $2500. VT can’t choose to pay $4000…it’s not allowed because the COL isn’t that high in Blacksburg. So, to quote you, VT is “going big”…as big as they are allowed to go!
      – I don’t loathe college football any more for this. It’s not like schools are paying out money based on talents or performance, or getting into bidding wars to recruit the best players. It is simply assisting student-athletes with real life expenses because their student-athlete relationship with the universities is prohibitive of them earning money to cover it themselves. If you went to college as a normal, non-athlete student and the school told you that you weren’t allowed to work to have money for a cell phone, gas, groceries, etc., would you not be upset if you didn’t have the financial means?
      – “We’re in the middle of the pack in the ACC?…Is that really where our fan base wants to be?” In this particular case, the fan base has absolutely ZERO control over where we are in terms of the ACC pack. Actually, the only way the fans could do anything about it is somehow get together to artificially raise the cost of living in Blacksburg to be on par with the most expensive ACC schools (in terms of cost of living). But that would mean that any time those fans came into Blacksburg for a game, they’d be paying $25 for a case of beer for their tailgate instead of $16. Do you really want that?

      1. HokieFanatics, well written response and I stand corrected on a number of points. Hopefully my ignorance will help inform others through your comments. I had a knee jerk reaction to this news. And I guess I had no idea of what was really going on with COA. In my defense, the articles I read on it glossed over the points you raised and seemed to focus on the “paying student athletes” aspect of it all. I still do feel like the money is getting out of control, but we have a capitalist system and as long as people want to watch NCAA football it will continue to grow. and I hope you’re right that COA stipends will be tied to actual costs for a fixed set of expenses. I’m skeptical though. It could also set a precedent and ease the flow of other types of payments down the road. Other payments that might not be as easy to control…

  2. The dam is about to break on this subject
    We are moving quickly to semi professional athletes
    The woman’s soccer team will be quickly put aside
    Men’s football and basketball will be mercenary in pretty short order, probably under 5 years.
    Quick separation of haves and have nots

  3. Well, you have to give BC due respect. For those of you that pass this on as just a piece of legislation, please remove your maroon or orange glasses. If you think we can keep up with the big boys, here’s a newsflash…VT doesn’t have that many “rich” alumni and the average Hokie Club member will only do what is necessary to keep their seats and parking. This is a big recruiting boon for the biggies and it’s too bad that the average schools fell right into their politically correct and well-thought-out trap.

  4. I am really glad that we were out front with the new rules, but I am also concerned that this new set up will hurt our recruiting, when other schools can pay more. I hope I am wrong.

    1. Not to be cynical, but recruits aren’t deep thinkers. If one school is paying $3,800, and VT is paying $2,500 … yes, that’s going to affect their thinking.

      But it will also work in VT’s favor in some cases. Whit said VT was mid-pack, so VT’s payout will be higher than some others. But given that the scale is $2,000-$4,000, not much higher. $500 at most.

      1. The $4,000 does not appear to be an upper limit – please see the note placed at the top of the article at 1:35 PM.

        1. If we become an afterthought in recruiting due to this damned pay schedule just look to Washington they somehow got the authority to set the ranges.

          The feds are now controlling a significant part of college football…just one more brick on the wagon that is going to slow our sports programs down. What freaking genius attorney decided to use these government guidelines as a mandate? They should have set a fixed payment and left it alone.

          1. “They should have set a fixed payment and left it alone.”

            OK, let’s say the stipend was nationally set at $3000. Now, pretend you are an upcoming athlete recruit trying to decide which school to commit to. You are down to your top two schools: UNC and Blacksburg (I know everyone is scoffing at this point, but this is just for illustrative purposes). According to CNN Money, the cost of living in Chapel Hill is about 11.9% higher than in Blacksburg. So that means the value you’d get out of UNC for the $3000 stipend is roughly $2682 in Blacksburg dollars. All other things equal, wouldn’t you rather go to VT and get more bang for your buck? That is why it wouldn’t be fair to have a set value for all universities. We just need to be assured that the federally mandated stipend amounts are fair for the relative cost of living and are not inflated by schools with deeper pockets and possibly stronger pull in swaying those officials who set the values (if that is even possible).

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