Athletic Scholarships in the United States: Meal Money, a mandatory expense for the University and a privilege for Student-Athletes

becas deportivas universidad estados unidos

Whenever we sign our athletic scholarship with an American university, the number of dollars that shows up on the National Letter of Intent does not reflect the full amount of money a sports coach is investing in our skills. There are other underlying expenses each coach has to thoroughly monitor in order to avoid going over his or her allotted budget.

For instance, let’s break down the expenditures a tennis coach is responsible for throughout the year, even if we disregard the costs of practice equipment.

Pre-season tournaments: travel costs

Firstly, there are travel costs whenever the team faces an out-of-town or out-of-state rival or during the pre-season tournaments. Wealthy colleges can afford flying out everywhere. Other programs have to endure extenuatingly long trips in the team van.

Accommodation expenses are quite large, since the travel party is comprised by at least six players and one coach.

Moreover, we must take into account the hefty entry fees required to participate in the Fall semester’s individual tourneys. Trust me, we aren’t talking about the 5€ it used to cost to sign up for a 10s & under competition at some random club over a decade ago, whose draws were not even submitted to the Federation. A myriad of officials are on site overseeing each Intercollegiate Tennis Association [ITA] event. Such a premium service shall be paid for via entry fees. True, way too often these judges showcase a highly questionable judgment, but that’s a different story. Referees in the US are paid to take bold decisions within a second or two of the action. And they generally do.

Meal money: daily stipends

Last but not least, we must discuss meal money. Each player is given a daily stipend while on the road. The amount varies depending on the financial muscle of the athletic department.

I would like to share a couple pieces of advice to our VT Sports student-athletes regarding how NOT to spend this allowance. Several tips I wish I had known before I embarked on my own American journey.

  1. In the typical stop at a grocery store on the eve of a tournament or dual match:

What NOT to do: Please avoid committing my ill-advised mistake of buying a giant Nutella jar and various king size Kit Kats. Such a foolish decision by my 18-year-old self. Still regret it to this day. If you manage not to purchase these items:

  • Your coach will not give you a death stare.

  • The chances of cramping the following day toward the end of your matches will be diminished.

Suggestion: Load up on bananas and rehydrating drinks.

  1. In the airport bookstore or at a gas station:

What NOT to do: If you are wearing your university’s official attire, please do not buy the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which comes out soon after the Super Bowl.

Every time you are displaying your school logo on your chest, you turn into an ambassador, for better or for worse. If the passenger on the next seat arrives home with a bad impression, it could undermine the reputation of your program. Contrarily, if that person has an enjoyable flight next to you, you are a direct contributor of him or her having a positive perception of your institution. Perhaps his or her descendants end up attending your school. You never know.

Suggestion: Expose yourselves to the minimum risks during the official trips. If you really want to buy the SI Swimsuit, wait one week and acquire it while wearing regular street clothes. Nobody is going to judge a young kid for purchasing any sort of magazine with his or her own money.

Text by: Pablo Mosquera Pérez