The National Collegiate Athletic Association has delayed making a decision on whether scholarship athletes at college sports’ top division will be eligible for as much as $2,000 a year to pay for food, transportation and other incidental expenses.
The governing body’s Division I Board, after reviewing objections, reaffirmed its support on Saturday for the plan but asked a working group to make a new proposal for implementation to university presidents in April. More than 125 of the 335 schools had forced a temporary suspension of the rule that originally was approved in October.
The board made its decision after hearing from members of the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, who asked a way be found to help the athletes who need it the most.
“They said consistently we must have this momentum going and this action will allow us to keep that momentum,” David Hopkins, president of Wright State University, said in a statement. “We need to move forward.”
The board instructed the working group to include consideration of financial need and compliance to women’s sports law Title IX. The stipend rules would be in effect for the 2013-14 school year, the NCAA said.
In October, the NCAA approved the stipend, which gives each conference the opportunity to add as much as $2,000 annually to scholarships for anything from pizza to plane flights. The additional stipend cannot bring the scholarship total above the cost of attending the school.
Opponents said the stipend gives an unfair advantage to athletic departments with the resources to cover the cost. Others have argued that it jeopardizes the players’ amateur status by paying them to play.
The board also rejected a call to override a move to allow multiyear scholarships, rather than the current year-by-year system. An October decision clearing the way for the long-term commitments had brought objections from 75 schools. The NCAA said the change was needed to protect athletes from the possible loss of scholarships because of injury, poor performance or coaching changes.
The rule will now go to an online vote of the entire Division I membership to be conducted in February.
“I recognize the complexities of this issue, the impact of staying the course is relatively minor,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “If we err, it will be on the side of the students.”