The Big East broke new ground in the world of college athletics back in May when the conference mandated its 10 programs give cost-of-attendance stipends to its men's and women's basketball programs. The aspects of this new change differs by program, but it's a major step in the direction of compensating college athletes.
The stipends are intended to cover an athlete's essential needs - money for transportation, gas, groceries, and other needs a typical college student may have. How much a player receives varies by school, and is determined by the university's financial aid offices. Rutgers is offering student-athletes $4,200-$4,900 per year to its full-time student athletes, while Penn State is giving theirs around $4,800.
Seton Hall, according to Asbury Park Press, is distributing two checks to its men's and women's basketball athletes worth $2,600 in total, to be given out once a semester. Athletic Director Pat Lyons said while there are currently no plans to give stipends to other sports, that could change down the road.
It's not sexy, but it's something.
Pay-for-play has long been a complex argument. While the big bucks continue to roll into the major programs, student-athletes have seen none of it. Now the Power 5 conferences are giving in and covering the incidental costs of attending college, with the Big East of all conferences leading the way.
Seton Hall is not the only Big East school to make their cost-of-attendance numbers public. According to the Providence Journal, Providence's stipends for men's and women's basketball and ice hockey total up to $1,800 per year. According to the Washington Post, Georgetown's stipends estimates at about $2,600.
The lack of a uniform policy in response to how these stipends will be dolled out could create concerns on the recruiting trail. Could a player really narrow down his final decision based on the stipend he'll receive? That remains to be seen, but for now, Lyons seems unbothered by the potential issue.
Lyons said he hasn’t heard any recruiting concerns from his coaches who lack the stipends, but he’s keeping an ear out. With just 14 sports and 230 student-athletes, he said, Seton Hall is in a position to ramp up quickly if needed.
"For us to be able to do the cost-of-attendance across the board, it’s not going to be as heavy of a lift as schools that have 25, 26 sports," Lyons said. "We’re in a good position to adapt to what the market says. The majority of schools haven’t enacted cost of attendance for all programs yet. Schools are being cautious because don’t know what’s going to happen down the road with football five autonomy."
This is a small-but-massive victory for student-athletes in the short term. The kinks will be worked out as time passes, but one thing is for sure: hopefully we no longer have to hear stories about the star point guard going nights without a meal, or an offensive line coach being reprimanded for making sure his players don't go hungry.