Alabama Coach Concerned About Colleges Manipulating Cost-of-Attendance Figures
University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban is concerned about some schools reworking their cost-of-attendance figures to get a leg up in recruiting student-athletes, according to Matt Zenitz of AL.com.
During a meeting with reporters last week, Saban—who was in favor of the NCAA's new scholarship rules allowing schools to cover students' expenses up to the cost of attendance—suggested some may take advantage of the new policy in a wholly unintended way.
"To do it the way we did it is going to be a nightmare," Saban said. "We've spent 100 years in the NCAA trying to make everything equal—so no extra benefits, nobody could get something that somebody else couldn't get. Alright, now you leave it up to the institution, and I think some people have manipulated their numbers because they've significantly changed from last year to this year, and that's not the spirit of the rule.
"Everybody has historically from an academic standpoint tried to keep the cost of attendance down. It's a benefit to the students. It's a benefit to their scholarships. Now all of a sudden it's going to be different, and I don't think that's good."
Back in April, The Chronicle of Higher Education revealed how much each of the 65 schools in Power Five conferences planned to offer student-athletes under the new cost-of-attendance policy. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville led the way with an additional $5,666 per year, while four other schools—Auburn University, the University of Louisville, Mississippi State University, and Texas Tech University—all plan on offering athletes at least $5,000 more than they did under the NCAA's old policy. Ten schools plan on offering an additional $4,000 or more. According to the Chronicle's figures, Alabama ranks 10th out of the 14 schools in the Southeastern Conference in terms of how much more it will offer student-athletes ($2,892).
As the Chronicle noted in mid-April, Saban isn't the only one concerned with schools tweaking their cost-of-attendance numbers to gain a leg up in recruiting. Athletic directors have reportedly begun considering a policy allowing schools to offer a standardized amount—the Chronicle threw out the figure of $4,000 per player over nine months—no matter how much the school costs to attend.
"It's put a perverse incentive on schools to inflate their listed costs," said Chuck Knepfle, director of financial aid at Clemson University, to the Chronicle.
Though the new cost-of-attendance rules didn't appear to have much of an effect in terms of the recruiting class of 2015—eight of the programs in 247Sports.com's top 10 were in the top 10 the year prior, too—many top-tier recruits had already committed to their respective schools by the time the NCAA passed these rules. If elite recruits begin eschewing big-name programs for smaller schools with higher cost-of-attendance stipends, expect the furor behind this new policy to only further expand.
Don't miss another Schooled in Sports post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox.
Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.