NCAA allows student athletes to work

By David Williams
Sports Staff

In a monumental decision, the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors recently passed Proposition 62, which will allow student athletes on full grants-in-aid to work during the school year. The approval occurred on Wednesday, April 22, at the Board's quarterly meeting, which was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. The new law will affect athletic departments all over the nation as a number of advantages and disadvantages will come into play when the proposal goes into effect in August.
Allowing student athletes to work has been the subject of some discussion over the years in lieu of NCAA infractions in which people have showered players with money or gifts in an illegal fashion. The gifts and money are often very enticing to a player who has no other source of funds.
The NCAA recognized these infractions and decided to collaborate with student athletes in meetings designed to bring out the athlete's needs and desires while at school.
The Proposition 62 proposal was actually adopted at the 1997 NCAA Convention, but was delayed until this year in order to devise a plan that actually implements the law. The NCAA Council held a meeting during April in Orlando, Florida in order to finalize the design of the plan and actually passed it April 22 at the aforementioned Indianapolis convention.
Proposition 62 has five major qualifying factors which are designed to promote the enhancement of the student-athlete and deter the detriment of college sports.
While at work, the student athlete can earn up to $2,000 per year above the value of the full grant that is given to he or she while on scholarship.
Additionally, the athletic department or athletic administration of a school can seek out work for the student athlete, much like the co-op office does for co-op students here at Georgia Tech.
Also, the $2,000 mentioned in the first stipulation is not counted as institutional aid, thereby not lessening the athletic budget for the student athlete's sport unless the student works in the athletic department.
This means that if a football player works at a construction company, his earnings are not deducted from the football team's budget as long as his earnings don't exceed two thousand dollars more than what his full grant is worth. In contrast, if he works in the athletic department, then his earnings are subtracted from the department, because they have to pay him.
As a secondary stipulation, income from employment within the institution's recreational sports unit (i.e. SAC) for up to $2,000 is exempt from being counted towards the athletic budget. SAC pays the athlete, not the athletic department.
In addition to the aforementioned requirements, student-athletes can only be paid for work they actually perform and at a rate proportionate to standard salaries in that type of job in that area or city. This is a precaution against foul play where a student-athlete is paid outrageous amounts of money for little or no work.
Furthermore, in calculating a student-athlete's earnings, money from a Pell Grant may not be included in the sum.
There are many advantages to the passing of Proposition 62. Players may receive experience in a field of work that they will pursue after they graduate. A player may not make the pros, but if he works they'll have work experience and won't be behind in the job world after spending so much energy and time trying to better themselves as athletes.
Moreover, the NCAA may not see an incident like the one that happened with Penn State running back Curtis Enis this year and other stars like Kerry Kittles of Villanova Wildcat fame. The unfortunate infraction with Enis occurred when a sports agent took him on a one thousand dollar shopping spree. Enis was caught and prosecuted, causing him to lose his scholarship and have to forego his senior year to enter the NFL Draft. Fortunately, Enis was picked up by the Chicago Bears, but his record is forever tarnished. Most players in this situation don't even make the pros leaving themselves with no degree and a tarnished image when applying for a job.
Lady Yellow Jackets basketball star Carla Munnion commented that "We need clothes and spending money, too. If our parent's don't provide it, there is no way to get it."
This is often the case as a player's parents wouldn't have been able to send their kid to college without the scholarship in the first place. Players often wear their practice gear around school out of necessity and not glamour.
In addition to this, players will learn how to manage their money so when they do get a job whether it be making one million in the NBA or fifty-thousand as a manager, they won't squander their earnings. A player may be able to shoot a thirty foot jumper, but that doesn't guarantee that he or she knows how to balance their checkbook or interview for a job.
Lastly, some of the abuse of players will be taken away. Players draw in tons of money at basketball and football games but often don't see any monetary perks that show how much they are a part of that. There is even a small chance that players may not leave as early jumping to the pros if they can make enough money working to sustain their family until graduation.
Like all things in life, bad comes with good. There are some disadvantages to allowing athletes to work all year round. Some members of the NCAA Council have expressed concern that schools will use this as a recruiting advantage, guaranteeing "better" jobs at your school where "better" may mean no work for a lot of money via boosters.
Ida Neal-Smith, the Assistant Athletic Director of NCAA Compliance here at Tech also noted that "Council members fear that this brings the booster back into the game. The jobs may serve as a front allowing boosters to give huge sums of money to players which is illegal. It is hard to monitor all the jobs given to all the players that we have and ensure that they are legal."
In addition to the passing of Proposition 62, other legislation is now on the drawing board that will affect student-athletes and their decision to work or not. The NCAA Council may pass a resolution increasing the value of a full grant-in-aid to the total cost of attendance. Currently a scholarship pays for tuition, dorm room, one hundred thirty-three dollars worth of books, a meal plan and fees. It does not pay for the estimated five-hundred dollars that a regular student spends while at school each quarter to keep himself going (i.e. soap, toothpaste, gas for a car, socializing, etc). The main crux of this new legislation would be to help pay for a student-athlete getting back and forth from home to school. Currently, institutions cannot pay for that so a student athlete has to find his own way home. If he or she lives in California or out of this country, that may be a formidable task without either working via Prop 62 or being given the money with this new resolution.
The new Proposition 62 goes into effect on August 1998. It should be made clear that without it, players had the ability to work in the summer which some people may argue was enough.
Realistically, a lot of players may not get a chance to work because of the rigorous schedules they endure every day during and after the season.
Hopefully, the jobs players have will be legitimate, enhancing their skills and lives thus rewarding them for the all the great times that they give fans all over the world.

Copyright © 1998 by Gregory S. Scherrer, Editor and by the Student Publications Board

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