In an online brochure, the Nebraska athletic department unveiled the extra benefits that Husker athletes (in all sports, not just football) will receive under the NCAA's new rules on allowing institutions to cover the total cost of attendance. Those benefits now include:
- The scholarship is now calculated on the "total cost of attendance" versus the old method, which only covered tuition, fees, books, room and board. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the value of a Nebraska scholarship jumps from an estimated $19,762 to $23,448 - an increase of $3,726.
- Increased access to support services, such as Academic Skills, health, training, strength and conditioning, and nutrition (training table). Scholarship athletes are now provided a meal during the summer as well as $10 a weekend day in "Husker Bucks" for dining at restaurants.
- Each scholarship athlete will receive an Apple MacBook Air laptop computer.
- Scholarship letterwinners who graduate can now take advantage of new post-eligibility benefits, which include internship opportunities, studies abroad, or graduate school. Nebraska claims that this is the first known program of it's type in college athletics.
- Scholarships cannot be pulled as long as the student remains in good standing with the athletic department and the University. (Translation: Johnny Stanton could have stayed on scholarship; Avery Moss would not.)
Some look at the differences in amounts as being a recruiting edge for schools that are increasing scholarships more, but I suspect that benefits such as the MacBook will mean more than the scholarship difference. The bigger question that athletes should be asking (and coaches should be answering) is how much it actually costs to attend a school - and does the scholarship actually cover all those expenses. Iowa, for example, only increased their estimated scholarship from $19,072 to $21,010...a $1,938 increase, which is nearly half of Nebraska's additional benefit. Is Iowa City a cheaper place to live than Lincoln, or is Iowa less willing (or able) to cover some of those other expenses? If it's the latter, it is a definite advantage for Nebraska; if the former, it should be a wash.
Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst explained some of these new benefits and summarized the 2014-15 seasons in a video sent to boosters.
You can also view this information in the 2014-15 annual report, which is available online in one of the most difficult-to-use web site's I've seen in years. (Don't even try to access it on a phone...)