ESTERO, Fla. - Big changes are on the way for collegiate scholarship athletes. The NCAA decided Thursday, athletic conferences will now have the option of giving students on full scholarships an extra $2,000 in spending money. It's welcome news for athletes who could use a financial boost on college expenses from travel to food bills.
"Playing with my teammates is one of the best feelings in the world," FGCU senior basketball player Courtney Chihil said.
For collegiate athletes, every dribble, pass or sprint is all for the love of the game. But most wouldn't mind scoring some extra money to keep them going on and off the court.
"I know a lot of people come from far away to play a sport somewhere so sometimes they have to pay for their transportation here, whether by car or plane," FGCU senior basketball player Sarah Whitfield said.
FGCU men's basketball coach Andy Enfield says scholarships cover Room, board, tuition and books, but not everything.
And with so much time spent at the gym, part-time jobs aren't always an option.
"A lot of our players come from families they need the extra money," Enfield said. "It's hard for the general public to understand it but when you're in a situation and see it firsthand, they need the extra money."
"We'll probably do it along the lines of those who have demonstrated needs like Pell Grants and so forth to make sure that we can get dollars to them as opposed to maybe a student athlete who comes from a pretty strong economic background," FGCU Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh said. "And those dollars can be used for another portion of our program."
This ruling wouldn't require all schools to provide the grants.
The decision would be up to each individual conference, which could potentially put some schools at a disadvantage.
"If you're recruiting the same player and you've got four to five other schools in the mix, and one or two schools can not give that extra money, it certainly hurts you," Enfield said.
Both Enfield and Kavanagh agree, this decision is a slam dunk, and one that's been a long time coming.
"What it will do is allow some individuals who have very difficult economic needs to have an opportunity to not have to worry about some aspects that others take for granted," Kavanagh said.
This ruling is in it very early stages, so not all of the details have been worked in the Atlantic Sun Conference, with which FGCU is affiliated. School officials will iron out the changes over the coming months.