At the beginning of the 2014 athletics season and school year, the University of Texas Longhorns announced landmark reform of its intent to pay student-athletes up to $10,000 apiece in the wake of lawsuits against the NCAA, including the O’Bannon case.
In another set of cornerstone reform for the rest of the conferences and its 10 member institutions, the Big XII has announced — officially — the approval of several pieces of legislation to improve the general overall welfare of its student-athletes.
“Today, the Big XII Conference continued its leadership in college athletics by adopting these student-athlete enhancements,” commissioner Bob Bowlsby said on Nov. 30. “Enacting these measures is an important step in the process of implementing a twenty-first century model that is responsive to the needs of our student-athletes. The Big XII Conference will continue to be at the forefront of being a change agent in college athletics, and I am proud we have moved forward with these actions.”
The first bylaw that was approved, was the full cost of attendance measure that was presented this past summer, as a top priority for the conference.
For the first time ever, student-athletes will be compensated for expenses that surpass the traditional “room and board” stipend allowances of the past. And while it won’t grossly over-inflate the bank accounts of its beneficiaries, it will provide between $2,000 – $5,000 in additional funds, depending on the school.
Bowlsby has made concerted efforts with student-athletes throughout the process to ensure the conference promotes the best practices for the future, in all aspects.
On top of securing financial benefits, the Big XII has also approved multi-year scholarships to show student-athletes that regardless of health or injuries, the conference believes education to be paramount, and are committed to upholding scholarships, no matter what.
This also applies to the final measure which will allow student-athletes who departed early for any reason, the ability to return and complete their degrees. This includes athletes who declared early for a professional sport, such as the NBA or NFL. Regardless of the reason, those who qualify will receive financial aid until their eligibility is expired.
The new bylaws go into effect on Aug. 1, 2015, and several other measures could be approved by then, too. But for now, the Big XII conference is pointed in the right direction.
*Photo credits to Kevin Jairaj, USA Today Sports