B1G's cost of attendance plan gains steam

Back in May, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany gathered with reporters at a Chicago hotel and discussed a proposal that would increase the value of an athletic scholarship up to the full cost of attendance.

The plan quickly gained steam among other bigwig conferences like the SEC and sparked a largely misinformed pay-for-play debate. But the discussion about scholarship restructuring definitely was under way.

Now the NCAA is on board.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said Monday he supports a proposal to allow conferences to increase grants to student athletes by $2,000 "to more closely approach" the full cost of attending college, beyond the athletic scholarships athletes receive for tuition, fees, room, board and books. ...

"This week, I'll be asking the board to support a proposal to allow conferences -- not mandate anyone, but allow conferences, not individual institutions -- to increase the value of an athletic grant in aid to more closely approach the full cost of attendance," Emmert said.

Emmert's comment about conferences, not individual institutions, adopting the proposal is very interesting. While some of the bigger Big Ten schools would have little trouble appropriating these funds for its student-athletes, not every institution is in the same financial situation.

Here's what several key Big Ten figures told ESPN.com about the cost of attendance issue.

Would the Big Ten be united in agreeing to increase grant money to student-athletes? Almost certainly yes. But there would be some interesting discussion.

Emmert also said Monday that he'll ask the Board of Directors to allow institutions to award multiyear scholarships.

The larger grants to student-athletes will help with travel costs and other areas that make sense. But the proposal also could increase the gap between the richer leagues and the rest.

This much is clear: as was the case with instant replay, a league-focused television network and the realignment circus, the Big Ten remains the launching point for major initiatives in college athletics.