College athletes at schools across the nation receive privileges ranging from scholarships to access to special tutors and dining services. But the Ivy League has long been known for its lack of merit-based and athletic scholarships.
Although the NCAA will meet to discuss changes to current scholarship regulations in the coming months, the Ivy League will not depart from its long-standing tradition of paying solely need-based financial aid, according to Robin Harris, executive director of Ivy League athletics. The NCAA discussion will be centered on paying a stipend towards the living expenses of student-athletes that are not typically covered under the umbrella of an athletic-scholarship. This extra cost is often referred to as cost of attendance. Harris said, however, that these discussions would not affect the Ivy League because the Ivies do not granting merit-based scholarships.
“If the NCAA chooses to add to the definition of the grant that you can give a stipend, the Ivy League will not be affected because we don’t give scholarships,” Harris said.
Given the number of sports at Ivy League institutions, it would prove difficult for Ivy League schools to offer scholarships equally. Colorado College has a perennially strong hockey program and offers scholarships, but men’s hockey and women’s soccer are its only Division I sports. With Ivy schools fielding over 10 teams, it is difficult to offer enough scholarships in every sport according to men’s basketball head coach James Jones.
“I think it would make for great discussion, but given the number of sports that are at each Ivy institution it would be [cost-prohibitive] to offer scholarships,” Jones said. “The alternative would be to cut sports and no one wins with that scenario.”
Once the idea of paying for an athletes’ cost of attendance was brought up for discussion in the NCAA, the next question raised was whether or not Division I athletes should be paid an additional salary for their contributions to the university.
“I don’t feel that I deserve to get paid,” said swimmer Danny Clarke ’14. “My teammates and I don’t generate any revenue for Yale Athletics. In fact, Yale Athletics and Yale Swimming boosters give thousands of dollars to our team each year for equipment, travel costs, etc.”
Clarke supported the argument, however, that some athletes should receive compensation for attending a four-year institution instead of jumping directly into the lucrative world of professional sports.
“I think top Division I basketball and football players should be paid. These athletes generate millions of dollars for their schools and receive none of the profits,” Clarke said. “I think it is unfair that the University of Florida made millions of dollars off of Tim Tebow jerseys, and he received none of the jersey sale revenue.”
Although proponents argue that athletes should be compensated for generating revenue for the University, administrators typically argue against the proposition, Harris said.
Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett said that the reasoning against paying athletes a salary is twofold. First, it has the potential to further divide student-athletes from the student body as a whole. Second, it takes away from the student-athlete experience.
“I think it changes the paradigm in a very dramatic way,” Beckett said. “I think the students are [currently] all coming here with the idea that everybody is given the same opportunity and that no one is being rewarded with some sort of merit scholarship based on what it is that they do. Changing that would be a real shift in how students interact.”
While Yale and other Ivies may not be changing their stance on scholarships, college athletics as a whole are in flux and have the potential to change dramatically in the coming years.
“The NCAA is a broken system,” Clarke said. “I anticipate collegiate athletics will undergo significant change in the next decade.”
In the annual Ivy League fall conference on Oct. 28 and 29, athletic directors from all eight institutions will meet in New Haven to discuss recent changes to the NCAA regulations as well as current recruiting regulations and improved training table meals.