Campus Life / Local / National / Sports / Virginia

ODU to pay stipends to athletes

by Justin Bell

Old Dominion University’s new three game deal between Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia will allow them to start paying athletes a stipend.

The schools have yet to meet on the field in football and the new deal pledges to bring in more revenue for ODU as they are set to play the big schools in 2018, 2020, and 2022.

With the new deal in place, ODU is set to gain roughly $400,000 per game for the two trips to Charlottesville. UVA will get nothing for their trips to Norfolk.

All of this transfer of money is slated for the new stipend program that ODU has set for its athletes. The stipend will cover costs for cell phones, entertainment, and travel expenses, none of which is covered by traditional scholarships. This new program will cost ODU about $800,000 per year.

It would seem that ODU has found a loophole in the most debated subject in college sports, but colleges have been paying athletes a stipend for some time now.

Schools in the “power 5” (Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, and Pacific 12) have been paying athletes a stipend ranging from $1,400 to $5,600 regularly now.

ODU has not decided on how much to offer its athletes and will not until later this year. But athletes are looking to receive the stipend beginning when the new semester starts in August.

All of this is coming from ODU’s move to Conference USA, which means they have to pay the stipend from fundraising and not from student fees. They have to raise an additional $600,000 a year to pay the full stipend. That still includes the $400,000 contribution from Conference USA.

Depending on the amount to be paid to athletes, it could add an additional $250,000 to $750,000 in costs to their athletic program.

Other schools, such as Marshall and Virginia Commonwealth University, have already decided to pay the full cost of the stipend, with VCU paying $4,100 per student. Power conference schools like Auburn pay out nearly $6,000 per student in stipends because of bigger and more lucrative TV contracts.

This could spell trouble for some schools as some students could be committing to schools for the wrong reasons. Some schools have the ability to offer more than other schools, so commitment to those schools based on stipend payout over educational advancement could become a problem in the near future.

ODU is waiting until the summer to make the final decision on how much it will pay out in athlete stipends. But with hopes of playing big games against UVA and VT, ODU can further their athletic program and find a way to alleviate those costs in the near future.