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Texas athletics will start paying athletes directly as a result of Supreme Court ruling

The University of Texas athletic department will begin paying athletes directly a maximum-allowable total of $5,980 per academic year as a result of legislative changes tied a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, the school announced.

Starting with the 2022 spring semester, all “eligible” athletes — those who are cleared for competition — will receive $2,990. The second payment of $2,990 will be made in the fall semester.

These direct payments, legally deemed to be “additional financial assistance,” were made possible by recent NCAA and Big 12 rule changes that stem from the Alston v. NCAA decision reached by the Supreme Court in June.

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Power Five schools that don't pay extra benefits are likely to fall behind in recruiting and on the field.

NCAA athletes are now eligible to get education-related benefits, such as postgraduate internships and money for items such as tutors, laptops, science equipment and musical instruments. Currently, the maximum value set by the legislation is $5,980 per academic year.

This money is payable on top of the assistance athletes get in the form of an athletic scholarship, which covers tuition, books, room and board.

“We’re excited to be able to provide our student-athletes with additional support, but as importantly, to continue to initiate programs that focus on their academic commitment and success,” UT athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement.

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Athletic director Chris Del Conte praised UT's decision to pay athletes nearly $6,000 per academic year based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. "This additional academic benefit will be another way to bring out the very best in our student-athletes," he said in a statement.

Del Conte said the athletic department takes a “holistic approach” to building up all athletes.

“This additional academic benefit will be another way to bring out the very best in our student-athletes,” Del Conte said in a statement. “I can’t thank President Jay Hartzell and our campus leadership enough for helping us make this happen.”

Make no mistake — this is partly a recruiting issue. Any Power Five school that doesn’t have these payments will fall behind. In October, Big 12 schools voted to let each institution determine how much of this new benefit it would pay.

Texas and Oklahoma have announced there are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC by the 2025 football season, but it’s widely expected to be sooner.

Sports Illustrated reported last week that Ole Miss was believed to be the first school to issue $2,990 payments for the spring semester.

“Everybody is going to do this, for sure everybody in the SEC,” Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter told Sports Illustrated. “We thought, ‘Let’s get ahead of this.’”

The Rebels are expected to spend $2.48 million each year on roughly 415 athletes. Texas, which generated $22.1 million in profit for the 2019-20 fiscal year, normally has just over 500 athletes.

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.