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MWC commissioner hopes individual schools can choose athlete benefits

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Craig Thompson wants to allow individual schools to be able to choose what benefits that athletes can receive.

Kent Horner

The NCAA announced potential reform which will allow the power five conferences to go by different rules compared to the other five conferences, but still play at the same FBS level. The most common item is full cost of attendance scholarships, but here are the most talked about items that the power five leagues want to use:

• Financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;
• Insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;
• Academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and
• Other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).

The rules are not clear if individual teams outside of the power five conferences who want to take part in benefits can even if their league chooses not to do so. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson would like each team to pick and choose what benefits they can give out:

The Mountain West is right up there with the American Athletic Conference as the next best league outside of the power five, and Thompson wants his best teams to be able to compete at the highest level alongside the other power teams.

There is a bad side to doing this and that is a split within the Mountain West between teams that can afford benefits and those who can't. Plus, if certain schools can show that they are able to pony up the means for benefits then they actually might have a better chance of getting a call up to a power five league, and it would create a competitive imbalance.

The Mountain West would be better off providing full cost of attendance that American commissioner Mike Aresco plans on doing.

Thompson should really concentrate first on getting his entire league in a position to mirror the American who plans on offering full cost of attendance scholarships. That should be done before the league tries to allow certain teams to offer benefits just because they can afford those benefits while others can't.