For years the debate went on about whether or not college athletes should be paid by their schools for all of the money they help generate and for all of the time they put into their sport.
Last summer that debate tilted in favor of the players when college football’s major conferences voted to allow their schools to provide athletes with compensation under the heading of Cost of Attendance.

Athletes were suddenly allowed to be receive money or aid for expenses beyond the usual cost of room, board, tuition and books.

Northern Illinois University was one of the schools that quickly embraced Cost of Attendance compensation out of necessity.

“You’ve got to embrace it,” says NIU football coach Rod Carey. “It’s like someone tells you, ‘If you don’t want to do this you’re going to get left behind.”

The cost of cost of attendance at NIU runs around 800 thousand dollars a year. What athletes receive varies from university to university and athlete to athlete. 

Football players at NIU say it’s something that’s necessary. Because of all of their time spent training and practicing they can’t hold part-time jobs, and many of these athletes come from families that don’t have money.

“I feel like most guys with the extra money they’re going to send it back home to people, the family that really needs it because that’s what I do,” says NIU cornerback Paris Logan.

“I’m all for it,” says NIU quarterback Drew Hare. “Living the lifestyle that you don’t really get to have that option of having a second job, and if you do it would be really hard.  I know sometimes money grows thin for some guys.”

“It makes a lot of sense to me because you get guys in here that struggle to have a pair of pants. They struggle if they want to have a pizza,” says Carey.

Since some schools can and will offer more Cost of Attendance compensation it has become a topic when coaches go through the recruiting process with high school athletes.

“Kids and parents and high school coaches and AAU coaches are very aware of what cost of attendance is about and they want to know the number,” says NIU men’s basketball coach Mark Montgomery.

“It’s already a recruiting topic,’ adds Carey. “It’s not as big of one as it will become because schools are still figuring out how much and how they’re doing it. Once that has a year to go through, and then you’re going to have comparables. Then yea, oh yea, it’s going to be a recruiting topic.”