In 2015, the Iowa State men’s basketball team played in a four-team tournament in Spain.
A previous trip abroad took the Cyclones to Italy.
Travel such as this highlights the “soft dollar” value of an athletics scholarship. Tuition, room and board are “hard dollar” expenses. These are worth about $20,000 to $45,000 at Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa, depending on the in-state status of an undergraduate.
But items, such as international travel and other goods, add greatly to the value an athletic scholarship, the “soft dollar” benefits of being a student-athlete.
This is why much more is spent per athlete than the hard dollar expenses. Iowa State will spend about $140,000 per player, Iowa, about $126,000. Much of the differential goes to pay for the goods and other items, such as travel.
This is somewhat like “goodwill” in accounting, which is the effort put into building a business (such as a Division 1 athletics department). These add up to a lucrative soft dollar package that more than equal the hard dollar cost.
Travel rewards are huge for student-athletes.
It is not just revenue sports like basketball and football, either. The women’s golf team at UNI has road trips to Las Vegas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Hot Springs, Ark. Golf courses are generally nice places to visit, many times part of a welcoming country club. These matches are played at courses the players might not otherwise see if not for being on a college golf team.
In addition to the travel, there were other soft dollar benefits for the golfers — and other athletes.
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They do not have to pay greens fees. Much of the gear and clothing is provided by the school, as it should. For student-athletes, this can include shoes, pants, shirts and other clothing items. Team pants, shirts, jerseys and sweatshirts form a huge part of the daily wardrobe for a student-athlete.
There are many other soft dollar benefits in items that are available only to student-athletes.
Meal plans, fueling stations and campus housing result in many advantages in savings of time and money. Student-athletes receive a tremendous educational and economic boost in not having to shop for, prepare and clean up after meals, which is what those 50 percent of college students not on meal plans have to do daily.
Time is not wasted commuting and looking for parking spots thanks to on-campus housing. Fueling stations deliver nutrients at the exercise facilities to student-athletes.
Soft dollar benefits such as travel and clothing add greatly to the college experience for a student-athlete.
Many would not be able to travel around the world. Travel soft dollar expenditures go beyond basic tuition, room and board spending. This is also true for clothing, gear and other items. These benefits are what make the college experience so special for a scholarship student-athlete in Iowa — and the rest of the country.