It's Just $5, Right?
The NCAA recently released the 2012-13 version of the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete. It’s chock-full of useful information including recruiting calendars, recruiting rules and core course requirements. But, one thing is noticeably different from the last year’s version - the NCAA Eligibility Center registration fee will increase in September from $65 to $70.
It’s just five dollars right? Well, multiply five dollars by 180,000 (roughly the number of student-athletes who register each year with the Eligibility Center) and that equates to an additional $900,000 in revenue for the Eligibility Center. Some portion of applicants will qualify for fee waivers. But, any way you slice it, it’s a 7.7% revenue increase for the Eligibility Center, which is part of an organization that had 2010-11 revenue of $845 million.
Hmmm. I can sense the look on your face right now. The same blank stare I get when speaking to parents, high school students, high school coaches, high school athletic directors and high school counselors around the country. A stare that translates to, “When is enough, enough?”
I can’t speak for the Eligibility Center on how the revenue is utilized, but I can suggest a radical idea of reform. After all, if DI football can finally adopt a playoff system, why can’t other areas related to college athletics change as well?
Understand that when a student-athlete registers with the Eligibility Center it often becomes a badge of honor for many parents, providing plenty of fodder for them to gloat over their child’s athletic abilities, be it around the water cooler or in the stands at a high school game.
The truth of the matter is that many high school student-athletes who register with the Eligibility Center are wasting their time and money. Why? Because, out of the 180,000 student-athletes who register with the Eligibility Center annually, only about 76,000 appear on a college IRL.
What’s the IRL? It’s the Institutional Request List. Every DI and DII school in the nation is required to submit to the Eligibility Center a list of students they have an interest in recruiting. It’s a list known only by the Eligibility Center and the DI and DII schools, but if a student-athlete is not on it, they are not getting an athletic scholarship.
So, the NCAA has the ability to save families money and better manage parent and student-athlete expectations by providing one simple reform.
What is it?
Require the Eligibility Center to notify a student-athlete when they are placed on an IRL. Issue them an IRL number, which the student-athlete must then provide when registering with the Eligibility Center. No number? No registration.
Would this reduce the Eligibility Center’s revenue? Of course. But, that lost revenue would result from many parents no longer unnecessarily spending $70, which is a positive financial impact for families.
This would also help foster more realistic expectations among parents regarding their child’s chances of getting an athletic scholarship. Not on any school’s IRL? Then it’s probably time to have more serious discussions about academics and other financial aid options.
It would be a win-win for many families that you can’t place a price tag on – worth much more than five dollars.