St. Cloud State University plans to grant hockey players additional funding for academic tuition starting in the fall of 2016.
Schools, such as the University of North Dakota, have already implemented these perks for their student athletes by giving them free tuition, free room and board, along with free dining. According to SCSU Athletic Director Heather Weems, she and others on the athletic committee are working hard to make sure all of the steps that need to be taken are done on time.
“The biggest thing is the conversation, then it just becomes part of the grant and aid. It’s a financial aid agreement that we have with our student athletes, so the biggest piece is determining within our budget the situation,” said Weems. “We have had conversations with Mike Uran, director of financial aid on how we would identify that within our grant and aid process.”
Since a conversation has yet to be held, many students have questions regarding this decision. The main fear is that if the proposal passes, tuition, along with other campus fees, such as hockey tickets, will rise in order to pay for D1 hockey scholarships.
“This is not a concern. Men’s hockey brings in enough revenue to the university. It pays to keep other campus sports running for all of the other student athletes,” said Weems.
Another factor that may mitigate concerns is that Uran works with the athletic department to monitor the amount of scholarship money granted to student athletes. This may help ensure that money given out is fair and rightfully earned.
“Once the athletic department has decided what they will give each player, the NCAA has provided us with software with which we make sure the athletic department is in compliance with the regulations,” Uran said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has set up regulations for how much money can be allocated to conferences, universities, and students.
Once an amount is given to a conference, it is spread out to all of the universities. Once the athletic department knows how much money it will receive for scholarships, the coach then decides how much each player will receive.
According to Uran, when a player receives a scholarship it is like a contract salary. Their scholarships are renewable annually. While the scholarships are renewable, the amounts can increase or decrease throughout the athletes schooling at St. Cloud State. The decision is ultimately up to the coach. He is in charge of deciding each player’s worth to the team.
“In the D1 level, scholarships have to stay competitive, with that there is always funding available to give the opportunity to increase scholarships,” said Uran.
Despite the large transition taking place for St. Cloud State hockey players, many of them seem to have little to no information on the scholarship change.
“To be honest, I don’t know much; no one has really reached out to inform us,” said St. Cloud State defense player Clark Kuster.
“I’ve heard it mentioned once before,” said St. Cloud State defensemen Mikka Ilvonen. “Judd, another one of my teammates, was reading an article in the St. Cloud Times when Heather Weems officially announced the deal.”
St. Cloud State freshman football player, Ethan Bohlsen, expressed his feelings on the topic of the hockey scholarships.
“I feel that the hockey players should be recognized a little bit more than the football players because it is a major Division 1 hockey school, and football is Division 2 at St. Cloud State,” said Bohlsen.
Bohlsen’s reaction toward the scholarships is surprising, considering that the football players are not going to be receiving the same scholarships as the hockey players.
“I believe the hockey team brings in more revenue due to the fact that Minnesota is a hockey based state. I think they deserve to be rewarded,” said Bohlsen.
Bohlsen also stated that he does not foresee the university implementing the same scholarship for football players in the near future. He shared that some of the football players have talked about transferring due to scholarships, however, he is unsure whether their decisions are linked to the new scholarships granted to the hockey players.
Regardless of other players’ decisions, Bohlsen made it clear that this act will not impact his decision on attending St. Cloud State in the future.
“I would never consider transferring because of this situation that has come up,” said Bohlsen.
Along with the athletes, many students are also unaware of the changes in scholarships.
“There is no deadline for these changes, but you do want your students to know what to expect,” said Weems.
In the end, the decision is made based off of the budget given to the athletic departments, so a conversation between the financial aid department, coaches and the athletic departments is crucial. When it comes to the discussion involving the players, Weems says the conversation needs to be had.
“They are aware that changes are being made, however they are not in participation with the amount that will be given out,” said Weems.
As the process of change continues, Weems plans to involve the student body and keep the university as a whole aware.
Lydia Crackel, Tanner Hansen, Kyle Fahrmann and Sydney Vermette contributed to this article.