A. How much?
B. Which sports?
C. Who is paying them?
My solution is for the NCAA to take the money they earn from their very lucrative television contracts (football bowl games and the NCAA basketball tournament being the primary sources of funding) and create a pool of money from which they can LOAN money to student-athletes. These would be low-interest loans similar to a government-backed loan program and could be repaid over 10 to 20 years. These loans would be available to ANY student-athlete, not just those from revenue-generating sports such as football and basketball.
Recent studies suggest athletes may need between $2,000 and $5,000 annually to pay for expenses not covered by their athletic scholarships. Using those number, I would set the maximum loan amount per year at $10,000 per student (double what they may need for expenses). 99% of the loan requests under $2,500 should be approved with few questions asked. Requests between $2,500 and $5,000 would need a few more questions asked before approval. And finally, any request for more than $5,000 would require more steps in the approval process and would look at criteria such as financial background, reason for request over $5,000, and should even take into consideration PRO POTENTIAL of the athlete. This way, if Andrew Luck from Stanford or OSU star basketball player Jared Sullinger want to live lavishly in college with this extra money they can do so…they just need to pay it back when they are in the pros. Additionally, this loan program should have a system in place where the interest rate on the loans goes down if/when the athlete graduates. I’m not naive enough to think this is going to drastically increase graduation rates, but it does reward those who do finish their degree.
This solution not only helps student-athletes by providing them with money they may need to get through school but it is also another long-term revenue generator for the NCAA as they will earn interest money from these loans moving forward.