These Colleges Are Paying Their Basketball Players The Most Money


Posted by Will Laws

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Earlier this year, the NCAA decided that for the first time ever, schools could give its student-athletes a cost of attendance (COA) stipend for the 2015-16 school year to help them pay for expenses beyond the typical costs (tuition, room, board, books) covered by their athletic scholarships. It was a huge step forward for NCAA athletes, many of whom struggle to make ends meet while colleges profit off their hard work.

To determine exactly how much each school could pay, the NCAA calculated the difference between the COA and the worth of an athletic scholarship at each of its schools. The difference between those values is what each college is permitted to pay out to its athletes.

Many of those COA figures hadn’t been released to the public, but last month ESPN conducted a survey of 136 college basketball coaches to help convey the wide range of money these athletes will receive from the 351 different schools that play Division I basketball.

The survey results were extremely intriguing, because they don’t play out as you’d expect. It’s not as if every brand name school will be handing its players a fat check while lesser known colleges are restricted to smaller payments.

For example, there’s a four-figure difference between the largest ($5,364) and smallest ($99) average COA payout in the esteemed Atlantic Coast Conference. It’s the same deal in the less prestigious Sun Belt Conference, where the highest-paying school is giving its men’s basketball players $5,000, while two conference rivals are only permitted to give $99.

That difference is no small sum to a college student, who could use the money to quit a part-time job and spend more time on studying (or participating in his/her sport).

In fact, according to ESPN, more than 70 percent of the coaches who responded to the survey said they think the difference in COA payouts will be used as a recruiting advantage.

Only 20 schools of the 136 who responded said they had no plan to give COA stipends in the future. If these coaches’ hunches are true, how long will it take for every NCAA school to give in? And looking further, is this the precursor to a larger scale system of paying college athletes?

Only time will tell. Regardless, COA payments are a major victory for student-athletes — especially the men’s basketball players who are attending the following 23 schools, all of whom will receive $4,000 COA payments this year.

#23. Campbell Fighting Camels

Conference: Big South

COA payment: $4,000

Conference average: $2,366.86

#22. North Carolina State Wolfpack

Conference: ACC

COA payment: $4,000

Conference average: $3,734.14

#21. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Conference: Big Ten

COA payment: $4,000

Conference average: $3,688.33

#20. Pacific Tigers

Conference: West Coast

COA payment: $4,000

Conference average: $2,648.38

#19. Kansas State Wildcats

Conference: Big 12

COA payment: $4,010

Conference average (rank): $3,170.67

#18. South Carolina Gamecocks

Conference: SEC

COA payment: $4,201

Conference average (rank): $4,437.40


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