Christine Brennan doesn't mince words in her column in USA Today. The NCAA's new plan allowing Division I schools to pay full-scholarship athletes a $2000 cost-of-living stipend was "bad from the beginning, a ramshackle idea that saddled already-strapped athletic departments with another financial burden while also asking them to do something that appeared to be against the law." Brennan explains how the stipend proposal was hastily passed after it emerged from a working group lead by none other than disgraced Penn State President Graham Spanier. There is no indication that the NCAA took into consideration the financial implications on athletic departments that are desperate to cut costs in this economy, not add them -- as Brennan points out, only 22 universities out of the 331 in Division I actually have a profitable athletic program. Nor does it appear that the NCAA gave any consideration to the gender equity implications of this proposal; Brennan echoes our concern that limiting the eligibility to for the stipend to full-scholarship athletes creates an inherently inequitable situation because there are twice as many full-scholarship male athletes than female. (Citing AD Tom Osborne's objections along these lines, which we blogged about Tuesday, Brennan says, "When a crusty warrior such as Osborne has to teach the NCAA about the law [Title IX], it's downright embarrassing.")
The good news, Brennan reports, is that this plan appears to be headed for a rare override vote by the Division I membership, as 97 institutions have petitioned the NCAA to reconsider the stipend-authorizing legislation. Come January, the plan could be overhauled or even scrapped.