Here is the text of Thursday interviews from Dan Jones and Mark Keenum
Ole Miss chancellor Dan Jones
(What did you guys talk about in your meetings?)
“Standard business. I don’t think we had anything controversial. Just standard reports. Spent some time talking about academic issues, went over budget, things like that.
(The big topic here has been the anticipated restructuring of the NCAA – autonomy. What are your thoughts?)
“Our focus continues to be on the student-athletes and their well-being. Good or bad, the resources that are available to universities and their athletic programs have sorted out such that there are five major conferences that have access to some revenue that others don’t. I think that does give us a different level of responsibility for our student-athletes, and this autonomy is a pathway for us to accept and fulfill that responsibility.
(Ross has estimated that funding unlimited meals alone – now allowed by the NCAA – could reach $1 million. Does that concern you?)
“Clearly some of the growth that’s taken place in revenue in college athletics, some of it needs to be used for the well-being of student-athletes. We are in a very rapidly evolving time. So, does an added expense of a million dollars create concern? Sure, but if it’s a new expense that’s focused on the well-being of the student-athlete it’s one that’s a lot easier to deal with than the electricity bill going up a million dollars.
“We are serious about trying to fulfill that responsibility to those student-athletes. They have some advantages that other students don’t have, but they also have some limitations those students don’t have. (Shifts here to athletes’ inability to maintain a job and also compete) I worked when I was in college and frankly would have chafed at the idea that I had limitations on the ability to do that. I do think this is a healthy direction for us to take.”
(The message this week is that everyone – coaches and administrators from all SEC schools – is on the same page on this. True?)
“I don’t know anybody in our conference who have concerns about this commitment to better support our student-athletes.”
MSU president Mark Keenum
(What is your take on autonomy?)
:I am very supportive of our efforts as a conference to work with the other big four conferences to build … to make decisions that are in the best interest of our student-athletes. The fact that we have much larger budgets and are able to do some things that maybe some other schools in Division I can’t do for their student-athletes … We should not be prohibited or prevented from being able to address specific needs for out student-athletes in particular in providing additional assistance to support them in their full cost of attendance.
“I’m very pleased at the direction we’re heading. Tomorrow we’ll get into more specifics as far as an update on where we stand with this. The NCAA board will meet in August as planned we think to hopefully vote on allowing the big five to make some decisions on their own.
“As far as the vote count and how that’s all structured within the five, we’re going to learn more about that tomorrow. We know from earlier meetings what it looks like, and I’m hoping there’s been no significant change. I feel from our standpoint that it’s something that’s going to be very positive for Mississippi State and our future.
(Are you concerned about cost?
“I think you have to have reasonable limits. That’s something that we’ll work out within our conference and within the five (major conferences). When you’re talking about full cost of attendance, whether at the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State or all of our schools in the SEC, a student-athlete who is on a full scholarship gets their tuition, gets their room, get their board, their books. They also get some athletic gear and apparel they can wear, shoes and things like that … but that’s it.
“A student-athlete still has to pay for gas, transportation to and from school. Like all students they have incidental costs. Unlike a lot of other students, they’re not allowed to really work. A lot of students who need extra money to cover their cost of attendance are able to do student jobs, to work on campus. The demands on student-athletes are such that they’re now allowed to do that, but they still have those incidental needs just like all students.
“It will be incumbent on us as a league to provide some framework for what that is. We’ve talked about $2,000 at one time, per student-athlete per year. I don’t know what the final figure will be. That’s what this is about, to cover their incidental costs and their transportation costs.
(Full support across the conference?)
“From the on-set of this discussion it’s been about the well-being of our student-athletes. We’re concerned about all of our students on our campuses, but because of the particular demands we place upon our athletes, we want to do all we can to address their needs. It’s been unanimous across the board within our conference.”