While we are still a long way away from a world in which college athletes are adequately compensated for their efforts, the College Running Association has found a smart way to at least offer track and cross country athletes a chance to earn prize money.
So how’s it going to work?
The CRA has yet to make their official announcement — that’s coming on Dec. 3 — but the plan is to start a road racing championship circuit. (Mounting running and trail running championships will also be established, but the details regarding those aren’t expected to be revealed until January). The eligibility requirements are simple: runners must have a high school diploma and be enrolled in a college course. That’s all.
And yes, athletes currently on-scholarship will be allowed to participate and earn money.
See, the NCAA passed a new rule earlier this year that allows current Division I athletes in individual sports to be awarded prize money up to “an amount covering their actual and necessary expenses incurred over the course of one calendar year” (ESPN). The text of the rules is available on the CRA’s FAQ page:
Exception for Prize Money Based on Performance – Sports Other Than Tennis. In sports other than tennis, an individual may accept prize money based on his or her place finish or performance in an athletics event. Such prize money may not exceed actual and necessary expenses and may be provided only by the sponsor of the event. The calculation of actual and necessary expenses shall not include the expenses or fees of anyone other than the individual
Calculation of Actual and Necessary Expenses – Individual Sports. In individual sports, the calculation of an individual’s actual and necessary expenses shall be based on expenses incurred during each calendar year (January-December), rather than on an event-by-event basis.
“Actual and necessary” expenses are limited to:
- Apparel, equipment and supplies;
- Coaching and instruction;
- Health/medical insurance;
- Medical treatment and physical therapy;
- Facility usage;
- Entry fees; and
- Other reasonable expenses
Athletes who are doing postgraduate studies or who have no official NCAA eligibility remaining won’t be limited in terms of the amount of money they can accept.
The CRA certainly won’t fix our flawed systems of amateurism in one fell swoop, but it is a step in the right direction.