Razorback athletes now have another way to get paid: academic success

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,869 views 

Razorback athletes may receive money for their academic success through an initiative announced by the University of Arkansas athletic department on Thursday (Sept. 23).

With the Razorback Academic Success Initiative, UA athletes will receive educational benefits and monetary awards for their academic success and progression towards graduation.

The program is a response to recent changes in NCAA legislation, specifically the Supreme Court verdict this past summer in Alston vs. NCAA. In a unanimous 9-0 decision, the court ruled that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by limiting what universities can supply in educational resources for college athletes.

As a result of the decision, the NCAA can no longer limit which education-related benefits athletes can receive. They are now eligible to receive items related to supporting their education and financial awards related to academic success (up to the legally established maximum of $5,980 per academic year) as designated by individual institutions.

The Alston decision allows conference presidents and chancellors to specify limits on new educational benefits. However, the SEC presidents and chancellors voted not to include additional limitations on how conference members can provide the new support.

“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 Thursday. “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.”

According to a UA news release, Razorback athletes can receive laptop computers, calculators, basic supplies and other items as part of the initiative. They will also be eligible to receive a monetary award for academic achievement each semester.

To qualify for benefits of the Razorback Academic Success Initiative, athletes must:

  • Be in good academic standing with the University of Arkansas, the SEC and the NCAA.
  • Complete applicable percentage of degree completion benchmarks, including grade point average and hours earned towards a degree.
  • Be an active member of a team roster at the end of the semester.
  • Conduct themselves in a manner to maintain good standing on campus and within the community.

The UA release said that during the 2020-21 academic year, 100% of Razorback athletes who exhausted the athletic eligibility earned their college degree.

“As we prepare our 465+ Razorback student-athletes for success now and in the future, earning a college degree is integral to that plan,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “The Razorback Academic Success Initiative is designed to supplement our investment in the education of our student-athletes as well as incentivize their advancement toward their degree. The success of our program is defined not just in terms of on-field wins and losses, but also in the names of our student-athletes engraved on the Senior Walk, as graduates of the University of Arkansas.”