MSU athletics compliance director discussed scholarship vs non-scholarship athletes

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Michigan State University athletics compliance director Jen Smith sits at her desk in Jenison Fieldhouse.

Shane Jones

Michigan State University athletics compliance director Jen Smith sits at her desk in Jenison Fieldhouse.

Jennifer Smith helps oversee Michigan State University student-athlete scholarships, providing money to students for housing, board, books and other college expenses. She’s been the university’s compliance director since 1999, helping ensure the university’s athletic operations follow NCAA rules for student-athletes

Spartan Newsroom: You work with so many different student athletes, what is the most common problem for them financially?

Jen Smith: Student athletes have a difficult time budgeting the money that they do receive.

SN: How does the number of scholarships vary per athletic team?

Smith: Every team has a certain number of scholarships and there are two different types: headcount scholarships and partial scholarships. Football, basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s tennis, and women’s gymnastics, are all head count sports where they get 100 percent scholarship. The rest of the sports receive partial scholarships where the scholarships can be divided up amongst all of the athletes.

SN: Besides scholarship checks, what are some other ways that the athletic department can help student athletes financially?

Smith: We have the student athlete opportunity fund which the NCAA provides. It comes into play when an athlete need to travel home for an emergency, or if an athlete has a child, or even needs assistance for a dentist appointment.

SN: Is there a way for walk-on athletes to receive financial assistance once they are on a team?

Smith: We have the (Student-Ahlete Opportunity Fund), which means that walk-ons don’t have to pay for their parking on campus, and if there’s an extreme living situation, we can help them out financially.

SN: In your opinion, do you think student athletes should get paid?

Smith: I do not. A out-of-state scholarship is worth $50,000. Also would a linebacker get paid more than the quarterback? Would a football player get paid more than a gymnast? How would we pay everyone and how would it be taxed?