One of the biggest debates in college sports is whether student-athletes should be compensated beyond what an athletic scholarship allows. I sat down with Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis, earlier this week to discuss the issue.
"The most important thing is the education of our students and student-athletes. That's the most important thing we do, but to do that, to have a first class Division-I program, we've got to marshall the resources."
With revenue close to $23 million in 2013, educating a student-athlete at Southern Miss breaks down like this.
Tuition for the 2014-15 academic year is just $3,490 for a Mississippi resident and $4,285 for an out of state student. Student-athletes have a range of housing options from the most expensive at Century Park at about $3,050 to Jones and Wilber hall at $1,990.
Of course, college students have to eat and with meal plans ranging from $1,497 to $1,797 a semester, things can get pricey. Combing the most expensive meal plan with a residency at Century Park for a Mississippi resident, that comes to a grand total of $8,337.
Paying for this is challenge for any institution, but McGillis said one sport leads the charge in bringing in revenue to Southern Miss.
"Football is the financial engine. We have 16 teams here. 16 sports and they're all very important to us. Around 370 student-athletes. It's a broad based program and we're trying to do great things in all those sports."
According to the USA Today, the NCAA generated $913 million in revenue with a $61 million surplus. With those numbers some say that student-athletes should be paid, but McGillis disagrees.
"I am not for that. Most of my colleagues are not for that. This is amateur athletics. It's higher education and that's what it needs to be about. Student-athletes today that are on full scholarship that have an established need in addition to a full grant and aid, can receive a Pell grant of up to $5,500 every year. This is above and beyond a full scholarship."
McGillis may not want to pay student athletes for their time on the field, but he does believe in some reform.
"I think one of the examples as you will see, which again I think will be a funding challenge, but I think makes some sense. In recruiting, you can only pay to bring in the student-athlete, himself for herself, when they're visiting an institution," said McGillis.