NCAA President Mark Emmert backed a proposal to allow conferences to increase grants to student athletes by $2,000 "to more closely approach" the full cost of attending college, beyond the athletic scholarships athletes receive for tuition, fees, room, board and books.
Emmert told the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics on Monday that the proposal will be finalized this week and he'll ask the NCAA Division I Board of Directors to support it at their meeting Thursday. He noted that student athletes have limited opportunities to work outside the classroom and playing fields, and that the current model of athletic scholarship hasn't changed for 40 years.
Emmert says he'll also ask the board to allow colleges and universities to provide multiyear grants, instead of year-to-year scholarships.
"We are going to create a model that would allow -- probably ... up to $2,000 in addition to" tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies.
If the proposal is for all scholarship athletes, it would cost the University of Minnesota about $650,000 annually, based on the Gophers having the equivalent of 324.4 full scholarships.
"The hard thing for us is that we're spending everything we make,'' athletic director Joel Maturi said. "It would be different if we were putting $1 million into reserve every year, and we could just say we'll tap into our reserve fund to pay it.''
Maturi said he had hoped to use additional revenue this year from the first Big Ten Conference football title game and a new premium seating program for men's basketball and hockey for facility improvements and raises.
"Now, we won't be able to do some of those things,'' he said.
Maturi has questioned whether giving a flat sum to all scholarship athletes makes sense, since many athletes come from well-to-do families.
"I'm more concerned about kids who really are in need, to make sure they have the ability to be a normal college student,'' he said.
Staff writer Dennis Brackin contributed to this report.