Oakland benefiting from cost of attendance for athletes

Following a decision from April, universities in the Horizon League can now pay certain athletes cost of attendance.

“The cost of attendance is not a scholarship,” Scott MacDonald, senior assistant athletic director for public relations, said. “It is a financial payment to student-athletes. Just like if they had a job.”

According to an article on the Oakland athletics webpage, “The Horizon League Board of Directors unanimously passed cost-of-attendance, mandating the measure in men’s basketball and for at least an equal number of female student-athletes in a League-sponsored sport or sports.”

At Oakland University, this breaks down to 16 student-athletes within three sports — men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball.

The process of implementing the cost of attendance is slow and takes time. Currently, the athletic department is implementing the cost of attendance in three phases, which will be completed in three years time.

“By the time we reach the third year (2017-18), 32 student-athletes will receive cost of attendance, including [men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball] along with women’s soccer,” MacDonald said.

As stated by the Horizon League, the cost of attendance mandates that basketball have the cost of attendance covered. For adding other sports and thereby the other student-athletes, Oakland looks at the McCafferty points awards.

“It is ear marked for Men’s basketball and we have the option to allocate it to women’s sports,” Jeff Konya, director of athletics, said. “There are certain team sports that can acquire, in the women’s category, more points for the institution and that seemed like a good place to start.”

Additionally, Oakland is responsible for paying for the cost of attendance. However, an NCAA grant given to the university allows them to use those funds for cost of attendance.


Where cost of attendance would seem to be sticky is in recruiting and getting players to commit to a specific university.

Eric Prisbell of USA Today Sports wrote in a 2014 article, “The full cost of attendance is generally between $2,000 and $5,000 per year more than the value of the respective school’s athletic scholarship because it accounts for various miscellaneous expenses.”

This comes down to an areas cost of living and transportation expenses, along with other expenses an average college student may have a year.

“It is part of their financial aid distribution. Instead of a full grant and aid, it is a full grant plus cost of attendance,” Konya said. “Cost of attendance is things like gas, car insurance, travel — to and from home, and supplemental supplies for course work.”

This can be an added incentive for the recruiting process. Although every institution in the Horizon League schools has committed to the cost of attendance model, not all conferences or schools have.

The change that can happen during recruitment is something that Konya sees as a positive and will help Oakland thrive.

“When you are comparing where we are in the market place, to other conferences or institutions who have not made that decision, or made the decision to not go to the cost of attendance model, I think that is helps us in terms of recruiting,” Konya said. “[It] helps us tell our story about Oakland athletics and not let cost of attendance or scholarships be an inhibitor from attracting the best and brightest students to campus.”

At the end of the three-year phase, Konya would like to be able to extend the opportunities to more students and extend beyond the main sports. But keeping the proportion between men and women’s sports.