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New NCAA spending rule will affect YSU

Published: Mon, October 31, 2011 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Joe Scalzo



Imagine you’re a Division I-caliber football player trying to decide between a full scholarship offer from Kent State or Youngstown State.

YSU offers you a chance to play sooner, and likely win more, at a school with comparable facilities and superior tradition.

Kent offers you a chance to play FBS football, and possibly make a few national TV appearances, at a school with a strong recent history of producing NFL players.

The Golden Flashes probably have the edge, but it’s at least close, right?

Now imagine that Kent can give you an extra $2,000.

“That would definitely help them,” said YSU quarterback Kurt Hess. “That would play a huge role in recruiting, along with all the other factors. You’d say, ‘OK, if I go here, I can get $2,000 along with everything else.’”

That could be the scenario soon facing the Penguins in wake of last week’s decision by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors to allow conferences to provide up to $2,000 in spending money to athletes, part of what the NCAA calls the “full cost of attendance.”

“We sit in a region where we compete against Mid-American Conference schools and if our conference [the Missouri Valley Football Conference] decides not to [pay the stipend], there’s another regional conference that could,” said YSU athletic director Ron Strollo. “It could definitely affect us.”

The stipend, part of several significant reforms approved last week, would also affect YSU in other sports, where it competes in the mid-major Horizon League — especially since the money must be spent equally on men’s and women’s sports to fulfill Title XI requirements.

Major conferences such as the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 have the financial resources to supply athletes with the extra money, but since most Division I schools across the country lose money on athletics, the measure could stretch already tight budgets at smaller schools and create an even bigger division between the haves and have-nots.

“I don’t think this was enacted for our type of institutions,” said Strollo. “I think this is a reaction to the pressure that other schools are receiving.”

That pressure is being felt most at schools such as Ohio State, which is still reeling from the infamous “Tattoogate” scandal that cost Jim Tressel his job, and Miami (Fla.), which is facing serious NCAA sanctions after a booster admitted providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper benefits.

“As far as the $2,000, I think it’s probably a good move,” said YSU football coach Eric Wolford, who coached at Illinois of the Big Ten and South Carolina of the SEC in the three years before taking the YSU position. “Hopefully, it will curb some of the problems we’re seeing across the country with players doing things that the NCAA deems not legal. Specifically, selling things that are yours, like [jerseys] and those types of things.”

Wolford has spent most of his coaching career at the FBS level and played four years at Kansas State of the then-Big 8, where he remembers needing to work extra jobs to earn spending money.

“What happens is this — you go to college with a lot of kids that have more means than you,” said Wolford. “You want to take a girl to a movie or a nice place to eat or buy some nice jeans or a nice new laptop and you don’t necessarily have the resources.

“You can’t necessarily work a job during football, so where does that money come from? Some comes from financial aid but some kids send their whole financial aid home to their parents to pay for rent or their parents’ car insurance or cellphone. I hear it every week, so I’m for it [the stipend].”

In addition to the stipend, the NCAA also allowed schools to grant multiple-year scholarships (the one-year minimum is still in place) and raised the Academic Progress Rate cutline from 900 to 930 over the next four years. (YSU’s football team, for instance, had a 922 score in the most recent reported year, 2009-10. The Penguins were above 930 in four of the previous five years.)

Also, eligibility requirements increased from a 2.0 grade point average to 2.3 for incoming freshmen and 2.5 for junior college transfers.

“Honestly, there’s so many questions that need to be answered before we really figure out what happened,” said Strollo. “It’s supposed to be enacted in August, and we have scholarship offers out in the mail right now because there’s a November signing day for a lot of other sports.

“So, these questions need to be answered really quickly.”


1jodymack(7 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Times have changed. Players used to work in the summer to have some money during the school year. Many also worked during Christmas but the 24/7 commitment to the sport changed that. The summer job was how you purchased the things you needed. Now players are supporting parents. Wow

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2Superstar7(122 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

“Honestly, there’s so many questions that need to be answered..."
Answer #1:
The President of YSU is so EXTREMELY, NAUSEATINGLY overpaid & her perks are so crushing on the YSU budget, a pay reduction for her OR her voluntarily funding a stipend for student athletes will help return/retain YSU's competitiveness.
Answer #2:
YSU employees- enter the world of equality and throw off the shackles of unionized non-thinking. ALL YSU employees accept a more than fair 30% of your monthly premium for medical insurance deducated from your pay. If they find that unacceptable, they can reject the insurance altogether. If they reject that, reject them & hire employees that care about the students.
Answer #3:
Give me 90 days to review the spending at YSU & I'll come up with enough savings to fund the stipend & redirect funds to areas that will increase YSU's competitiveness-
on a national basis.
If I am not successful, don't pay me for the effort.

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3drpautot(70 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

2k in extra money? Where exactly does it come from?
Is it considered a loan, or a grant? I recently found out I was eligible for an additional loan, that I needed for bills this semester anyway, but housing costs even on campus can be atrocious. I don't see any good coming out of this, and expect an "i told you so" in the not too distant future.

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4pioneer9(7 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Haha I still don't see the Tressel thing panning out, AROD. Believe me, I would be all for it (even with as much negative feedback people seem to be flinging at the notion) but I just can't see that ever realistically happening...

As for the issue at hand... it is so disappointing to see another money situation affect the way the game is played. Don't get me wrong, I'll never blame an athlete for taking a better scholarship... I mean, after all, college isn't free and we're not all in a situation to pay for it all out-of-pocket. And I definitely agree with JODYMACK on the inability to work during either the season or the off-season for that matter. I played at the Division II level and it was hard enough to have a life so I can guess that playing FCS ball is no walk in the park either.

However, while this definitely could have a negative benefit on the Penguins recruiting efforts, I wouldn't say there is much need to worry just yet. YSU is still surviving on a tradition of excellence and championship caliber programs, despite being 14-years out from its last 1-AA title and a few years from its last playoff appearance. And the one things that YSU has done and would be wise to continue doing is recruiting the area... HARD. We have great high school football with big programs like Boardman, Fitch, Harding, Mooney, Ursuline, East, Canfield and Poland as well as some smaller schools with talent, such as South Range, Western Reserve, Crestview and the like. Some of the most prominent players YSU has produced have been area products. QBs Jeff Ryan and Tom Zetts were from nearby Boardman. ATH Matt Rycraft (who played literally everything at YSU) was from West Branch. 2-time National Champion QB Mark Brungard was from Springfield Local. I realize that this new rule affects our sway with local athletes... However, in my mind, players like the aforementioned local guys from years past will take neighboring YSU over a Miami, Bowling Green or Kent State any day of the week, even if it means losing a bit of scholarship money. And that's all we need.

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