With the college football media events in full swing, the topic of the Cost of Attendance(COA) stipend has been a frequent topic for discussion. On Thursday, Nate Mink from Syracuse.com took a look at the issues surrounding the COA and some of the unintended consequences it's causing across the country. Since the COA is determined by individual schools and is applicable to all students, not just athletes, you have a substantial difference in numbers between the P5 schools.
An earlier look at the P5 schools showed Syracuse with the 3rd lowest COA of $1,632 per year, ahead of only the Boston College Eagles and University of Southern California Trojans and far behind the Tennessee Volunteers' $5,666 per year. (You can find the full list of the P5 schools here)
While it wasn't clear to see just what kind of impact this might have on recruiting, this quote from Syracuse Orange linebacker Zaire Franklin certainly makes some SU fans nervous:
"If I'm choosing between school A and school B, that's on my criteria," Franklin said. "School A and School B both have good academics. School A and School B, same kind of area football-wise. They give me $5,000 and they give me $2,000, I'm going with $5,000. That's just simple mathematics, and anybody can say they wouldn't, but c'mon, we're all human."
When you factor in that football scholarships are 4 to 5 years, that's a potential difference of $10-15k and that is going to play a role in a recruit's decision. No one knows what kind of impact it will have, but Franklin's quote clearly shows that it will have an impact in the decision-making process (and Bud Poliquin agrees). At a time when Syracuse is looking to regain their place in the ACC, even losing a couple of recruits as a result of the COA stipend is meaningful.
Since the COA applies to all students, raising it for athletic reasons isn't a decision that will be taken lightly on many campuses, especially since that number is what many look at as the college's "sticker price." Now, I'm not saying the COA stipend is a bad idea at all, it's just an idea that needs to be tweaked, and I believe that will happen sooner than later. The notion of autonomy among the P5 was a good step towards improving the treatment of student-athletes, so we don't need to panic at this news and move backwards away from giving more to the athletes, unless you are Texas Longhorns AD Steve Patterson.
It's up to the P5 to get together and agree on a hard cap among the conferences, and I don't think it will take long to happen. Giving athletes the opportunity to receive a little extra money is something I'm always going to support, but there needs to be an agreement among the schools on a set amount for this stipend. Let me know what you think in the comments.