This week, NCAA Division I institutions are conducting an online vote to determine whether athletic scholarships should be offered as guaranteed multiyear agreements instead of the current practice, in which scholarships are offered only as renewable one-year contracts.
But several ACC athletic directors said in recent interviews that they regard the NCAA’s proposal on multiyear scholarships — which was approved for immediate implementation by the NCAA Board of Directors in late October — to be unnecessary. They say their schools already consider the one-year scholarships to be long-term deals — barring academic or social misconduct — and that the NCAA’s proposed legislation regarding multiyear scholarships would not significantly alter their current practice.
If the vote to override the NCAA’s proposal fails, schools will continue to be allowed to offer multiyear scholarships, as they have since October. If it succeeds, schools immediately will be stripped of that ability, and those student-athletes who signed multiyear agreements in the past four months — including the latest class of men’s basketball recruits signed by Maryland in November — will become members of a limited group whose scholarships will be guaranteed for four and, in some cases, five years.
The vote is being conducted online and ends at 5 p.m. Friday. For the override to pass, five-eighths of the total votes cast must be in favor.
The NCAA decided to allow multiyear grants in part to prevent coaches from rescinding scholarships from players who underperform athletically. But several ACC athletic directors contacted for this story insisted that instances of coaches “running off” players for athletic performance reasons have decreased substantially in the past five to 10 years.
“One of the issues is: What is the actual number of student-athletes that is being displaced because of the one-year renewable grant?” Georgia Tech Athletic Director Dan Radakovich said Thursday in an interview. “If we have 99.5 percent of the student-athletes having their scholarships renewed, should we make a national rule that deals with a half of one percent of all the student-athletes?”
Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver said his school planned to vote in favor of the override in part because the Hokies feel there are enough safeguards currently in place to deal with the issue of coaches “running off” players purely for athletic performance reasons.
Virginia Tech also is among the schools perturbed that the NCAA circumvented its normal legislative protocol in enacting the proposal allowing for multiyear scholarships, along with one that gave schools permission to give $2,000 stipends to student-athletes. NCAA President Mark Emmert broached the ideas at an August presidential summit in Indianapolis. During a quarterly meeting on Oct. 27, the NCAA’s Board of Directors approved the proposals, effective immediately.
Less than two weeks before the start of the November signing period, Division I schools suddenly were able to offer multiyear grants with $2,000 stipends to those prospective-student athletes that were to receive full scholarships.
During the November signing period, two ACC schools — Maryland and North Carolina State — signed their latest classes of men’s basketball recruits to guaranteed multiyear scholarships that included $2,000 stipends. North Carolina and Virginia signed their men’s basketball recruits to one-year renewable scholarships — the NCAA standard since 1973 — but included $2,000 stipends in those agreements.
In December, after receiving significant backlash from its Division I members, the NCAA Board of Directors suspended the $2,000 stipend proposal. A new, need-based version of the $2,000 proposal is expected to be submitted to the Board of Directors in April.
The multiyear scholarship proposal was sent to an override vote, though schools maintained the ability to offer multiyear agreements. Nine Big Ten programs and at least two each from the Southeastern Conference and ACC (North Carolina State and Florida State) signed football recruits to multiyear scholarships on Feb. 1.
According to David Berst, NCAA vice president for Division I, schools will be allowed to honor all multiyear scholarships signed since October for the duration of the agreements, regardless of the result of the override vote.
Berst also said the specific terms of the individual scholarship agreements signed in November would stand for the duration of the deals. That means schools will be able to honor the $2,000 stipends to which they already agreed under the language of the original proposal.
Under the terms of the NCAA proposal, schools are welcome to include academic and social requirements that the student-athlete must meet in order to maintain the multiyear scholarship.
“You do have to be specific and clear, and that’s a good thing,” N.C. State Athletic Director Debbie Yow said. “That’s not a bad thing.”
The proposal also does not force schools to offer multiyear scholarships; it merely affords the opportunity to do so. But several ACC athletic directors said their schools would be all but required to offer multiyear agreements to remain competitive in recruiting.
“That’s like everything else they say you don’t have to do,” Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson said. “Well, okay, so yeah, we don’t have to do it, but then if we want to be competitive and we’re competing for the same athlete, then you better well do it, or you’re going to be out of the game.”