Close your eyes for a minute and imagine you’re Cameron Payne.
You’re in high school at Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tenn., and Murray State, Appalachian State, Arkansas Sate and two other schools are trying to recruit you to play collegiate basketball.
Men’s basketball Head Coach Steve Prohm gives you a call and offers you a position on the team.
You ask, “Well, are you going to give me extra compensation to play like the Sun Belt schools will?”
And Prohm sadly answers, “No, the OVC decided not to adopt the new NCAA legislation.”
So you don’t go on to help the Racers win the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and follow in the footsteps of Murray State’s famed Isaiah Canaan. Instead, you go to the school that will offer you a few thousand extra dollars in scholarships to attend their school.
In this hypothetical situation, Murray State athletics are faced with a serious dilemma that could cause it to lose out on prime recruits that, in turn, attract the reputation our basketball team holds.
In the spring of 2014, the NCAA approved a new system that allows the five most powerful conferences to give their athletes extra scholarship money. The legislation was meant for those schools – but it’s trickled down into the rest.
To stay competitive with these big five, smaller conferences are being forced to consider adopting the legislation as well. To Murray State, this could mean an additional $3,300 in scholarships for men’s and women’s basketball players.
Murray State athletics makes a large amount of its money from the basketball program. In fact, basketball actually pays for several other Murray State sports.
So if the program can’t recruit the Isaiah Canaans and the Cameron Paynes, how will the program fare in the OVC and financially?
In turn, the OVC is adopting the legislation for its basketball programs, primarily because it can’t afford to give these scholarships in other sports programs.
So if a volleyball player is offered a position at another school that does give more scholarship money, she would have a reason to turn down Murray State’s offer.
In a Board of Regents meeting last week, Athletic Director Allen Ward said this change could add up to an additional $95,000 in scholarships to basketball players. He also said he wasn’t sure where this money would come from.
It would likely come out of the athletic budget. It would mean cutting programs within the department, just like all of the other cuts from the University so far.
The Chronicle for Higher Education highlighted some disparities between these big five conferences and smaller ones like the OVC.
“Critics of the changes say they could contribute to continued competitive imbalances within Division I,” reporter Brad Wolverton said. “And they worry that the new system will cause many institutions to drop sports or to push to abolish NCAA sport minimums.”
Look back at the last few years’ budget cuts at Murray State. Something athletics sees every year in recommendations is cutting the football program.
So, NCAA, lets add competition, higher athletics costs and imbalance to the equation. I think it’s fair to say there won’t be any additions of teams to Murray State athletics in the future.
Column by Lexy Gross, Editor-in-Chief