The SEC on Thursday announced that each of its 14 member institutions will be permitted to provide specific education-related benefits and academic-based rewards to its student-athletes, after it was voted into effect by presidents and chancellors.
The introduction of the new rule came on the heels of the Alston v. NCAA decision, a case in which the court ruled 9-0 that schools could not bar educational-related benefits to players. The NCAA argued that these benefits were impermissible, would be labeled as “pay-for-play” transactions and would deem student-athletes as ineligible, as they’d forfeit amateurism status. After the NCAA lost its case, the SEC took steps in the opposite direction to provide for student-athletes in the classroom.
“The Alston decision granted universities the opportunity to provide student-athletes with additional education-related benefits such as computers, science equipment and musical instruments, along with direct financial support in the form of academic achievement awards, up to the legally established maximum of $5,980 per year,” the SEC press release reads.
Following unanimous approval by the SEC athletic directors, the new proposal was taken to the university presidents for confirmation. The presidents also unanimously voted in favor of the new rule.
As the release notes, SEC presidents and and chancellors decided not to place any additional constraints on member institutions in determining how to provide the financial support for its student-athletes.
“The presidents, chancellors and athletics directors of our 14 universities have determined it is appropriate for SEC athletics programs to have discretion and flexibility to provide support for student-athletes in their academic and athletic endeavors,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “While the Alston decision invited individual conferences to impose limits on education-related benefits and academic awards, the SEC believes it is in the best interests of our student-athletes for these decisions to be made at the campus level rather than through Conference policy.”
The University of Florida was the first school to provide a statement on the new SEC rule, as the athletic department shared a quote from athletics director Scott Stricklin on how the Gators will utilize the new policy.
“Florida athletics plans on providing academic incentive monetary awards to Gator athletes while continuing to support them through education, nutrition, mental health services, strength and conditioning, career development and cost of attendance payments,” the statement reads.