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ATHLETICS

NCAA to distribute $1.5 million to Nebraska's Division I schools for student-athletes' benefit

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Nebraska's three Division I schools will receive next month more than $1.5 million combined from an NCAA endowment aimed to benefit student-athletes.

The special one-time distribution comes from a liquidated $200 million quasi-endowment and will be handed out April 19. According to the NCAA, schools may only spend this money on programs and resources that directly benefit the student-athlete and their "academic success, life skills, career success, health and safety and student-athlete focused diversity and inclusion initiatives."

Each Division I school will receive a share based on the number of athletic scholarships it provided during the 2013-14 school year. The bigger the athletic department, the more money a school receives.

That means Nebraska is getting a significantly bigger share compared to the state's other Division I schools — Creighton and UNO.

According to the NCAA's distribution report, Nebraska will receive $914,326 based on the 277.81 athletic scholarships it provided in 2013-14. Though that places the Huskers ninth among the 12 schools in the Big Ten at that time, it's still one of the highest totals in the country. Only 14 other schools nationwide will receive a bigger share than Nebraska.

The Big Ten collectively will receive the largest share of any other conference with more than $12.3 million. Of nine schools to get more than $1 million, six come from the Big Ten, including national leader Ohio State at $1,329,575.

The other combined totals of the Power Five football conferences: ACC ($12.72 million), SEC ($11.50 million), Pac-12 ($10.22 million) and Big 12 ($7.96 million).

Creighton provided the fewest athletic scholarships (89.3) in 2013-14 of any Big East school. That gives the Bluejays a share of $293,903 from this NCAA distribution. 

“If we could fully fund all of our sports, we’d be all for it,” Creighton athletics spokesman Rob Anderson told USA Today. The school’s tuition “is not cheap. We’re trying to raise money, and every year we get closer to the (scholarship) maximum in our Olympic sports. But men’s basketball is a big revenue generator, and we do everything we can to sustain men’s basketball success.”

These distribution totals make even clearer the difference between football conferences and those like the Big East that focus primarily on basketball (though Butler, Georgetown and Villanova do field football teams). The 10 Big East schools will collectively receive $3,974,606, which is about half the total of the Big 12. 

The eight-team Summit League — home to UNO — will receive a nearly identical share at $3,972,533. That's boosted in large part to the conference's four football-playing schools (North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota State and Western Illinois).

UNO, with its 100.86 athletic scholarships, will get $331,949 from the NCAA. That's the third lowest total in the Summit, ahead of IUPUI ($298,116) and IPFW ($316,613). South Dakota State ($669,593) leads the conference.

Schools can spend this money however they see fit so long as the purpose falls within the NCAA's requirements. Schools will be subject to random audits to confirm those expenses.

The NCAA mentioned these examples of unacceptable ways to spend the distribution: "coaches’ salaries, strength and conditioning equipment, capital improvements or other expenditures designed to improve athletic performance, athletic competition experiences or fan experiences."

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