Last week, the NCAA moved forward with legislation that would allow Power Five schools to provide cost-of-attendance scholarships for their student-athletes and would allow programs to provide unlimited food for its athletes, scholarship or walk-on.
It's a long overdue move that was rightly celebrated. Not many, however, have asked the question of what it's all going to cost.
Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard has an educated guess. "It would be a big outlay of expenditures for us — probably close to $750,000 (a year)," Pollard told Des Moines Register To cover the cost, the Cyclones would likely have to pass it off to the consumer. "And we're self-funded, so we'd have to pass that on or cut in other areas."
Iowa State is at an interesting crossroad in this issue. As members in the Big 12, the Cyclones would definitely fall under the "haves" category. But they're still well behind Texas, Ohio State, Alabama and other mammoths of college athletics. Maybe they're a "have not as much." There are a plenty more Iowa State's than Alabama's in college sports.
Iowa State is also set to receive in the neighborhood of $30 million or more from the Big 12 in perpetuity. That's, obviously, a significant figure and a stark increase from as recently as five years ago. In USA Today's most recent fiscal report for Division I athletics, Iowa State collected $55,151,017, good for 50th nationally. Its expenses were $55,113,720. That's a budget surplus of $37,297. Which means it's going to take some creative accounting, new revenue streams or hard decisions to come up with that extra $712,703.
And remember, this is just an estimate. It could be high. Or, it could be like most financial estimates, too low.
"We'll have to pass those costs on to our fans," Pollard told the paper. "There's just no other way about it."
Pollard said other proposals - covering athletes' medical expenses and allowing them to return to school to finish their degrees at no cost - were already taken care of by Iowa State and its peers. But ponying up that cost of attendance cash? That will be tricky.
"It'll impact a lot of decisions in the department about what you think about doing or how aggressive or unaggressive you are. But in the end, it would be a significant cost increase to what we do," Pollard said. "It's another piece of the puzzle."