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Columbus Dispatch...
Bill proposes $8,000 stipend for athletes

The NCAA approves of a plan to give athletes a $2,000 stipend, but a Dayton-area Democrat says he wants to quadruple the amount for those performing in Division I.

Rep. Clayton Luckie wants Ohio to take the lead nationally in getting collegiate athletes a fair stipend for their efforts that make “millions of dollars for these universities.”

“I think $2,000 is an insult,” Luckie said yesterday, noting that he was a roommate with four baseball players at Ohio State University and saw how they struggled to find time to get a job between all the practices and studying.

“If you look at all the problems we’ve been having not only at Ohio State but across the country, it’s all about athletes who are struggling just to get spending money to do the things they like to do.”

House Bill 411, introduced this week, would allow a Division I school to award an athlete in any sport a stipend up to $8,000. That figure, Luckie said, is based on what a working student could earn in a school year at minimum wage. The amount would be $6,000 for those at Division II schools and $4,000 for other divisions.

Even if passed, however, the bill could cause problems by conflicting with NCAA regulations. The idea drew criticism from NCAA President Mark Emmert.

“We have college sports if we want to have college students,” he said yesterday. “If we want to have professional sports, minor-league sports at the local level, then Columbus ought to start a football team.”

The House bill also would allow an athlete to collect up to $4,000 more from sources outside the institution, Luckie said, whether from a friend, a mentor or from paid appearances.

“It’s all on the table, nothing has to be hidden,” Luckie said. “We spend so much time monitoring individuals. What does it hurt for a kid to get $200 to go to a signing that helps a charity out?”

Five Ohio State football players ran into trouble when they sold championship rings (valued at less than $325), uniforms and other trinkets. Officials also discovered that athletes were being paid by a booster for attending a charity event and for hours not worked at part-time jobs.

The NCAA last month slapped the football program with a bowl ban for next season and the loss of nine scholarships — instead of the five proposed by the university — over the next three years. It also extended the university’s probation through 2014.

An Ohio State spokeswoman yesterday declined to comment on the bill.

If passed, Ohio law would conflict with proposed NCAA regulations that would allow for a $2,000 stipend to pay for living costs not covered by scholarships. Emmert said the stipend would remain in the proposal, despite opposition from 161 of 355 schools, but discussions will continue this week at the NCAA convention in Indianapolis.

The House bill says specifically that no athletic conference shall have a regulation that conflicts with state law.

“I think the NCAA has to abide by all rules and regulations in every state it participates in,” Luckie said.

But an NCAA official, who did not want to be named because he had not seen the specific bill, said if a new law requires Ohio schools to break conference rules, the NCAA, as a private organization, would have to consider whether it could allow Ohio schools to continue as members.

“We really have two roads to choose from: that intercollegiate athletics is professional sports, that it’s pay to play and we have salaries and we make it a professional occupation,” Emmert said. “ Or we have the collegiate model. There is no shortage of proposals out there.”

Rep. John Patrick Carney, D-Columbus, a former Ohio State student government president, said the issue is worth discussion but not a priority.

“Anything we do with respect to student-athletes needs to be done in conjunction with the university and the NCAA,” he said.

Read this and other articles at the Columbus Dispatch

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