UMass to cover cost of attendance for basketball teams

Last modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Like the rest of the Atlantic 10, UMass will cover the increased cost of attendance of its basketball teams for the 2015-16 seasons. Which other UMass athletes will immediately benefit financially from the NCAA rule change that allows schools to augment the value of a scholarship is still being determined.

The difference between what UMass scholarships covered under the old rules vs. the new ones is approximately $1,600 per full scholarship. The figure differs from school to school. The additional money is designed to help athletes cover living expenses beyond tuition, room and board, and other basics that had previously been covered.

Athletes are eligible to receive additional money in the same percentage as the scholarship they receive. A player on a half scholarship can receive an extra $800. A quarter scholarship would get $400, etc.

New UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said the approximate cost for the entire UMass athletic department would be about $475,000 per year.

He discussed cost of attendance with Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy shortly after being hired.

“I said, ‘This is important.’ The chancellor will help us with about $260,000 worth. We haven’t fully funded it yet. I have to look into the budget and see how I can free up some more money. It’s about $475,000 to do every student athlete that’s on scholarship or some sort,” Bamford said. “Ideally we’ll get to $475,000 in the next two years. That’s my goal. If we are only at $260,000, we can take care of the basketballs. If we take care of football, I can’t add another men’s sport to that yet. We’d do all of the women’s sports we possibly could.”

If UMass covered football (85 scholarships) in addition to basketball (13 for men, 15 for women), the school would also have to give at least 83 other women athletes (or equivalent scholarships) the increased cost of attendance to remain Title IX compliant. That would cost $313,600 so the athletic department would have to make up the difference of $53,600 from the chancellor’s $260,000.

“We’re trying to get our arms around if we do football, how we match the 85 we do in football,” Bamford said.

NO CONFERENCE MOVE IMMINENT — Prior to UMass unveiling its football series with Mississippi State, Bamford mentioned a major announcement upcoming. Fans on social media immediately speculated on the possibility that he could be talking about joining a football conference. Bamford is scheduled to do an online Q&A session with fans Wednesday at UMassAthletics.com and at least one fan asked him via Twitter if he was planning a conference announcement.

He understands the urgency, but preached patience. While any eventual move will be determined by the upper levels of university administration, his contribution is important.

“My biggest role is to make sure I survey the landscape at every opportunity and keep all the important stakeholders actively involved and updated to what that landscape looks like. I can’t get us into that league by myself. Our chancellor probably can’t get us into that league. It’s going to be the president of the system. It could be politicians. It’s going to take a village,” he said. “It’s incumbent on me to make sure everybody understands the landscape. If conference alignment starts dominoing again, I have to make sure everybody knows where we fit and what we need to do to fit in the places we want to be. I need to make sure everybody understands how other people view us, academically and athletically. If I can do that we’ll put ourselves in position to get ourselves in the league we want to be in. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of dominoes that fall for a while, at least for the next five years. I’m preaching patience.”

STAFF ADDITIONS, REORGANIZATIONS — Bamford was enthusiastic about new associate athletic directors Tom McElroy and Darrice Griffin, who were hired into the external and internal affairs positions, respectively.

“I’ve learned so much already from Tom. His experience and the relationships he has,” said Bamford, who pointed to McElroy’s recent work for the marketing firm Lefler Agency as critical to promoting UMass’ football program. “He’s making me better and he’s making our organization better already.”

Bamford thought Griffin was a star on the rise.

“I wanted somebody that would work well with our coaches and student athletes and give us a different perspective,” Bamford said of the former Texas Tech basketball player. “People told me you have to go after her. She’s the next up-and-comer. She can be a game-changer. She can help us build relationships on campus. I knew I needed a go-getter.”

Bamford thought the new hires had strengths he didn’t.

“I don’t want to hire people like me. I want to hire people that are going to challenge us to be better. I want people who are going to look at it another way. We’re only going to be better if people around me challenge me,” he said. “I think I can bring a lot of things to the table, but I’m not a fool to think I’m going to do it by myself.”

Bamford plans to complete a new organizational chart for the rest of the department in August as he figures out how to best integrate the people he has with new staffers.

“Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. I want to be fair with our folks, whether I hired them or inherited them,” Bamford said. “At the end of the day, everything we do is geared toward being successful and giving our student athletes at good experience.”

He’s still evaluating the staff that was on board under former athletic director John McCutcheon.

“I ask the coaches about our staff: ‘If you need something administratively, who do you go to?’ Nine times out of 10 it’s the sport administrator and I’ll have them tell me why. If it’s not the sport administrator, I’ll make note of that. I’m learning who are the go-to people in our department to get stuff done,” Bamford said. “Some of the people that are in this organization are really talented. I’m glad we have them. There are folks we’re going to bring to this organization that are going to make us better.”

He said a major upheaval wasn’t imminent.

“I wouldn’t want to clean out. I think there’s institutional knowledge. A lot of good experience that we can learn from, that I learn from every day,” he said. “If I don’t think we can be successful with the personnel we have and I don’t think we’re giving our student athletes a good experience, I’ll evaluate those things and make adjustments as needed.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage