Coyotes Gotta Compete! USD to Pay Athletes Stipends Beyond Scholarships

Go, fight, buy new lamps at Target!
Go, fight, buy new lamps at Target!

The jockocracy expands its reign, as the University of South Dakota seeks to expropriate another three quarters of a million dollars of the common wealth to pay young people for our gladiatorial entertainment. USD President Jim Abbott says USD just has to pay its scholarship athletes an additional “cost of attendance” stipend, not to enhance educational achievement, not to improve graduation rates, not to meet state workforce needs, but just to ensure closer games against its chosen Division I opponents:

“It seems to be a necessary move to meet the competition,” Abbott told the Press & Dakotan on Friday, hours after USD announced it will provide cost of attendance stipends in all 17 sports beginning with the 2016-17 season.

The additional aid for Coyote student-athletes is a sign, the president said, that USD is committed to succeeding at the D-I level.

“I don’t see much point going into a machine gun fight with a bow and arrow,” Abbott said. “If it’s a machine gun fight, you want to be able to be equal to the competition” [Jeremy Hoeck, “Abbott: Cost of Attendance a ‘Necessary Move’ at USD,” Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2015.09.05].

Abbott says these stipends—perhaps as much as $775K each year—will be covered by donations. But remember: every dollar the university solicits and spends on helping jocks buy their clothes and snacks and gasoline is a dollar the university could have spent on classrooms, professor pay, career services, and tuition reductions that would directly benefit every student on campus.

Every dollar USD puts into these stipends should also be taxable income. Athletic scholarships already cover everything that students (or their parents) can claim as qualifying educational expenses. The $4,145 that USD athletic director David Herbster says the cost-of-attendance stipends will be worth will go right on top of whatever students or their parents have on Line 37 of their 1040, adjusted gross income. For a married couple still claiming their 20-year-old USD athlete and making near South Dakota’s median household income of $50K, that additional $4,145 stipend would likely be taxed at 15%, adding $622 to their tax liability.

11 Responses to Coyotes Gotta Compete! USD to Pay Athletes Stipends Beyond Scholarships

  1. Anything to feed the pipedream of professional sports. USD should divert those donations to students interested in becoming astronauts. It would be both a more realistic and worthwhile undertaking. To encourage students to pursue something that will have nothing to do with the rest of their lives is foolish to say the least and cruel to students. Teenagers do not know any better and do it for the approval of their parents and friends. The adults pushing this garbage should be ashamed. Hopefully, these “new donations not previously allocated to education-related expenses” will pony up a few more dollars for a certain complementary Bruce Springsteen track about those glory days when they squandered their education opportunity to work a job they could have received with just a high school diploma anyways.

  2. As it oftentimes happens, there are those who think of “better” ways to spend money, whether it is individuals or organizations spending the money.

    I do not necessarily disagree with you Cory, but when people, businesses, or organizations donate money they typically know what the donations are going to be used for and donate by choice.

    If people object with how the money will be used, they do not donate again, or find other causes to donate to.

  3. Deb Geelsdottir

    College Division I and II sports are a very different critter from high school ball. I can’t comment specifically about the routine at USD, but I do know quite a bit about the average DI routine.

    Athletes may spend 20+ hours per week on team related activities they must attend as part of their scholarship requirements. That amount of time can easily double when the games themselves, and associated travel time are factored in. That does not account for classes and studying, the “student” part of the oft quoted “student/athlete experience.”

    The National Collegiate Athletic Association governs all college athletics at Division I, II and III schools. (Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships.) Scholarship athletes personal revenue is very tightly regulated. They cannot profit in any way from their athletic activities. They cannot receive money for any promotions using their likeness, accept gifts from private donors, sell their autograph, practice jersey, etc. (Recent court rulings have made some changes but details have not been ironed out yet, or put into practical applications.) So the “student/athletes” have no avenue to make a little extra money. If they came from a low income situation, they can’t afford a movie or a pizza or many other simple activities most college students enjoy.

    I think the extra stipend for “student/athletes” is a good idea. I think a much, Much Better Idea is to get Division I and II level sports out of colleges. Let the NBA and NFL create their own “farm team systems” as baseball, soccer and hockey have done.

    Lastly, the large majority of students who go to college using athletic scholarships have no plans of becoming a professional at their sport. They use the scholarship the same way a math student, musician, or any other scholarship student does — to pay tuition they would otherwise be unable to afford.

  4. Douglas Wiken

    Athletes get all the soft campus jobs as well. It irritates the hell out of those actually going to college to get an education.

    Interesting that yesterday, a highschool kid died of injuries from a football game in Louisiana.

    Yesterday on public radio, there was a discussion of parents pushing kids into athletics. “Doctors developed a name for this extreme behavior: achievement by proxy distortion. The idea is that, if the kids are successful, the parents feel successful. The parents may have good intentions, says Conant-Norville, but the behavior can be extremely harmful to children.” More of this interesting discussion at


  5. Ms. Geelsdottir makes some good points. Allow grudznick to add two. Baseball already does what she suggests. Kids have to pick between minor league or college baseball. Universities make huge dollars and notoriety from sports they won’t give up.

  6. This is a “Sputnik” reality for SDSU.

  7. I read the score for Saturday’s football game was: KSU 34, USD $400,000.

    SD can, and will, throw money away at DI athletics until the cows come home yet will never seriously compete with the DI leaders. Often it’s better to admit an err and correct ones course.

  8. Since student teaching has now expanded from one semester to a full school year, perhaps USD should offer student teachers a cost-of-attendance stipend to make up for the fact that all their classroom work prevents them from maintaining a good part=time job.

  9. Disgusted Dakotan

    No, no, no.. don’t you fine people realize? We need to expand the rural lawyer program the BAR, Daugaard, and crony legislators started several years ago (said no taxpayer ever).

  10. Deb Geelsdottir

    Good thought about student teaching Cory. Perhaps if sports were removed from colleges, there would be money for those things.

    Grudz, I included baseball minor leagues in my original comment. And baseball players do not have to choose between college or minor leagues. MLB drafts plenty of players from college.