I am against cost of attendance adjustments, and you should be also.
If you are of the masses who believe that collegiate athletes should be paid for their labor, then please, do not let the increased scholarship money appease your dissatisfaction. Let that dissatisfaction continue to boil as it should, because the cost of attendance bonus is a sham.
There are two narratives that exist here. One, that the student athletes are just that, amateur student athletes. Thus, to enable them to actively participate in athletics, their tuition is waived, along with some other fees, so that they can honorably represent their academic institution at each sporting event appropriately. This is the view of the NCAA. Scholarships are given in exchange for athletic service. Just like scholarships can be given for high standardized testing scores or working in the biology lab a few times per week.
The second narrative goes something like this: The student athletes work their tails off. They are either in the gym, in the classroom, or on the field from sun up to sun down each day. They have no time for outside jobs, because major college sports is their job.
The market value of their labor (i.e. the games on Saturday) is exceptional, consumed by millions both in person and through the television at incredibly high asking prices. Many a product is moved in light of successes on the field, thus even more dollars are made. Heck, even general student body enrollment is linked to athletic success in major sports. That definitely counts, too. Yet, despite working full time and directly producing a very hot commodity, the athletes receive no financial compensation.
These narratives are important, and they must be separated and fully understood in order to grasp the deception found in "adjusted cost of attendance."
See, the question isn't "should they give the players more money?" The answer is obviously "YES."
The question is "Why should players get paid more?"
Haisten did a great job breaking down how the full cost of attendance is calculated and what it means for the players at specific schools, but to sum up, the rule is just a revision of narrative 1. As each financial aid office reports a full cost of attendance figure that players will now earn - a difference of a few thousand bucks - you may feel some positive emotional response.
"Hey, they're getting some extra cash for food after hours and to maybe go see Furious 7 with some friends. Good for them!" you might think.
STOP IT. That is exactly what the NCAA wants you think. FCOA reimbursements are not raises. They are not any form of compensation for hard work.
The day the FCOA agreement was signed, I imagine university presidents toasted a cool glass of Brut, then laughed and skipped their way to some overrated steakhouse in Indianapolis.
Why? The additional $6,000 Auburn, or whoever, may pay its players is just atrociously less than the market value of a top level CFB or Men's Basketball player.
And more importantly, the powers that be have continued to play within narrative 1. Except this time, not only are they selling you narrative 1, they are getting praised for it also!
The horror stories of star players going to bed hungry after coming home from an NCAA tournament game are a thing of the past. "We take care of our players," they'll tell you "we cover the cost of attendance, start to finish."
"SO. bleeping. WHAT?!" should be your response. To put the Final Four television numbers into perspective, Game of Thrones - a show with a budget of $100,000,000 - earned 1/3 the share of Kentucky v Wisconsin in its season 3 premiere.
I wonder what HBO would pay its talent if they knew they could get the 2015 Sugar Bowl ratings?
Probably more than $3,000 per semester.
Until the justification for paying players is "because it is what their labor is worth," the justification will continue to be a deceptive con. As long as we are parading falsified educations as compensation for incredible hard work with incredible market value, we are accepting exploitation.
So what should be done about it, Clark? How should the money be divided among those who are working so hard to make it?
That's a great question. And it's one that needs to be asked.