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DI schools use special distribution dollars to fund student-athlete needs

Seattle University used its NCAA funds to improve student-athlete facilities and support services. Seattle University photo

Two years ago, the NCAA Board of Governors approved a special $200 million distribution to Division I schools. Months’ worth of legislative changes in Division I had provided more flexibility to support college athletes, so the allocation was earmarked for programs that allowed schools to fund those benefits.

Member schools were given flexibility — within a basic framework of guidelines — to determine how best to use the money based on their campuses’ needs. The funds were delivered to schools in April 2017 and based on each school’s number of student-athletes receiving scholarships.

The national office approved each school’s spending plan, and a review of those plans shows schools used the funding in these ways:

  • $115 million was allocated to health and well-being initiatives, including cost-of-attendance increases in scholarships and additional nutrition support.
  • $58 million went to academic support, including improved academics facilities and increased staff support or tutoring resources.
  • $24 million was directed toward life skills and career success programming, such as career coaching and study-abroad opportunities for student-athletes.
  • $3 million was allotted to diversity and inclusion initiatives, including guest speakers and internship programs.

Examples of How Funds Were Used

University of Missouri-Kansas City: UMKC is creating programming to foster dialogue among student-athletes, bringing in speakers and training internal staff. Programs focus on discussions about race, sexual orientation, religion, nationality and gender.

“We have been able to make good use of the money to foster lifelong learners in our student-athletes. This year … we provided Step Up! training for all our student-athletes, brought in (a speaker), Dr. Derek Greenfield, and enhanced the mental health services offered.” — Carla Wilson, UMKC athletics director

Holy Cross: In 2017, Holy Cross offered a summer academic session for the first time in its history, and this year it will begin funding summer scholarships and coursework for 50 student-athletes per year for four years.

“Our new summer academic session provides an exciting opportunity for some of our student-athletes, many of whom remain in Worcester over the summer to prepare for their upcoming seasons. This is the ideal chance for our young men and women to advance on their academic paths while also developing their physical skills.” — Nathan Pine, Holy Cross director of athletics

Seattle University: Funds were used as a capital investment in a project to centralize student-athlete services within the Archbishop Connolly Complex, bringing academic and compliance support staffs to one location.

“The NCAA one-time distribution made it possible for us to reimagine how student-athletes are able to access the support services they need on a daily basis. As a result, we made specific renovations to an underutilized area to create a highly accessible and functional student-centered space.” — Eric Guerra, Seattle University associate athletics director


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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.