NCAA shelves $2,000 athlete stipend

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA is putting its $2,000 stipend on hold.

The governing body said Thursday the number of schools seeking an override had reached 125 -- the necessary number to suspend the rule until it can be reconsidered by the Division I Board of Directors at January's NCAA convention.

The board passed legislation in October to give some athletes an additional $2,000 toward the full cost-of-tuition, money that would go beyond tuition, room and board, books and fees. Some schools have expressed opposition because they believe it violates the NCAA's philosophy on amateur sports. But most are concerned about compliance with Title IX rules requiring schools to treat men's and women's sports equally, or the budget hit athletic departments will face with incoming recruits next fall.

NCAA president Mark Emmert says he believes the concerns can be addressed.

The board has three options when it meets: Rescind the stipend and operate under previous NCAA rules, modify the rule or create a new proposal that would go back to the schools for another 60-day comment period, or allow members to vote on the override. It would a take 5/8ths majority of the roughly 350 Division I members to pass.

Some conferences already have agreed to start giving out the additional money, and NCAA vice president David Berst acknowledged Wednesday that many of the 1,000 or so student-athletes who have signed national letters-of-intent did so with the expectation of receiving the additional money.

Those athletes will get the stipend, the NCAA announced in a statement on its website.

But unless the override measure fails or the board passes a modified version, athletes who sign with schools in February or April would be prohibited from receiving additional money.

Emmert has insisted over the past several months that the additional money is not pay-for-play and compares it to stipends non-athletes receive beyond the cost of tuition, room and board, books and fees. Until 1972, college athletes were permitted to receive a small monthly payment as laundry money.

Some critics contend $2,000 is not nearly enough and cite studies showing the average athlete pays roughly $3,000 to $4,000 out of his or her own pocket in college costs.