NDSU to pay athletes

North Dakota State University is becoming just the second NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision university to pay its athletes.

Many athletes already get full rides on tuition, room and board, but Fargo Forum reports today the school is now going to give each athlete up to $3,400 to do with as they please. It’s known as cost-of-attendance money.

It’s a recognition that college athletes aren’t like other students at the nation’s universities.

“Could a student probably get a job? Yeah, they probably could but not if we want to be successful with all the things we make them do,” NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen told the newspaper. “And that is to be special athletes and do great in school and all those things. This certainly alleviates a lot of that.”

The money for the pay-to-play program, which is more common with the southern football factories, is coming from the school’s sports boosters.

“For us it was about who you recruit against,” Larsen said. “We’re recruiting against programs that are going to offer this. We thought it was important to give our coaches the tools to be apples to apples with those programs.”

Andrew Zimbalist, the Smith College economics professor, thinks it’s time for college sports to stop portraying college athletes as amateurs. But he thinks the athletes should be getting a better deal.

… in addition to offering a cost of attendance stipend (approved at the 2015 NCAA Convention) as part of an athletic scholarship, institutions should be mandated to provide a “benefits package” consisting of: (a) year-round health insurance, (b) lifetime health insurance for injuries related to playing their sport (including concussions which might not show obvious symptoms when the athlete stops playing in college); (c) disability insurance that covers lost income, including those with a professional career trajectory; and, (d) due process rights for accused violations.

The NCAA currently allows schools to pay athletes up to $5000 above their scholarships. The vote earlier this year was 79-to-1. Boston College was the only school to vote against the idea.