Recently, NCAA Division I institutions and their conferences voted on whether to overturn a measure enacted by the NCAA Board of Directors in October 2011 which allowed Division I institutions to offer student-athletes multi-year scholarships. The effort to overturn the measure was narrowly defeated. Of those eligible to vote, 125 voted to uphold the measure, 205 voted to overturn it, 2 abstained and 35 did not cast votes. To overturn the measure, 5/8 of those voting (or, 62.5 percent) were required to vote in favor of overturning the measure. Thus, the vote to overturn the measure was short by 0.38 percent of votes.
Given how close Division I institutions came to overturning the right to offer multi-year scholarships, one may wonder how votes were split on the issue. First, consider those BCS automatic qualifying conferences and schools which voted to continue to allow Division I institutions to offer multi-year scholarships:
|BCS AQ Conferences & Schools Voting to Allow Multi-Year Scholarships|
|Atlantic Coast Conference|
|Big East Conference|
|Big Ten Conference|
|North Carolina State|
Most notably, the only BCS AQ Conference which voted to overturn the multi-year scholarship measure was the Big 12. The ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC conferences, on the other hand, all voted in favor to continue allowing schools to offer multi-year scholarships. The only Big 12 member to vote to uphold the multi-year scholarship measure was Missouri. However, it should be noted that Missouri will join the SEC later this year. Many of the SEC’s member institutions voted similarly to continue to allow multi-year scholarships.
Of those 125 conferences and schools voting to allow schools to offer multi-year scholarships, 36.8 percent were BCS automatic qualifying conferences or schools. This is a significant number, especially when considering that the majority of schools casting a vote on the issue were non-BCS AQ schools. It further demonstrates that a majority of BCS AQ institutions are in favor of granting multi-year scholarships. This is important, as whether a school offers multi-year scholarships may greatly affect recruiting and athletic department budgets going forward.
Next, consider which BCS AQ conferences and schools voted to overturn the NCAA’s measure allowing multi-year scholarships:
|BCS Conferences and Schools Voting to Disallow Multi-Year Scholarships|
Of the 205 conferences and schools which voted to override the NCAA’s measure allowing schools to offer multi-year scholarships, only 25 were BCS AQ conferences and schools. Thus, BCS AQ conferences and schools only accounted for 15.6 percent of those wishing to disallow multi-year scholarships. Most interesting, however, is that the Big 12 and its member institutions accounted for 31.25 percent of the BCS AQ schools and conferences voting to disallow multi-year scholarships.
The question to be raised given these numbers is, what competitive disadvantage does the Big 12 believe it faces if multi-year scholarships are allowed to be granted? Opponents of the multi-year scholarship measure have made the reasons as to why they do not support the measure clear. First, granting multi-year scholarships binds schools and athletic departments to student-athletes who may not be able to perform up to required standards either on the field or in the classroom. Additionally, granting multi-year scholarships may impose a greater financial burden on athletic department budgets and may provide those schools offering multi-year scholarships with a recruiting advantage over those which do not offer multi-year scholarships.
These factors may have been relevant in the Big 12 voting in large measure to not support multi-year scholarships. In 2010-11, the Big 12 only had one school (Texas) which broke into the top-10 in terms of its recruitment expenses. Likewise, in terms of the top-50 most profitable NCAA programs, the Big 12 once again only placed one of its teams (Texas football) into the top-10. Given these factors, it is likely that the Big 12’s largest concern with offering multi-year scholarships rested upon a cost-benefit analysis of the measure, and what its teams would be able to offer budgetary-wise in terms of multi-year scholarships.
One thing is certain: because NCAA Division I institutions and conferences voted to uphold allowing multi-year scholarships, it will be interesting to see the recruiting advantages those schools offering them receive going forward.