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The cost of doing business in major college athletics has sky-rocketed during the last five years.

Just consider all the changes.

Once upon a time, an athlete was happy to have a scholarship and a room in a dormitory. Not anymore. Now, scholarship athletes receive stipends.

At Marshall University, for example, scholarship athletes receive stipend checks of $1,253.60, according to MU’s athletic department. Each athlete receives five checks per semester for a total of 10 checks.

That’s $15,042 per school year.

It sounds pretty darned good compared to the days of scholarships, dorm rooms and cafeterias. But, in actuality, it pales in comparison to the money explosion occurring across college athletics, thanks to the concept of “Name, Image, Likeness.”

But I digress.

Even in a small state such as West Virginia, the cost of doing business in major college athletes has escalated.

West Virginia University is a prime example. As a member of the Big 12 conference in the Power Five, it takes some serious money to be competitive. That’s because so many various services are involved.

For starters, according to WVU’s athletic department, there are scholarships, tuition, fees, cost of attendance and a recently announced academic incentive plan. The latter allows each student-athlete to receive an additional $5,980 annually.

The criteria?

All the athlete has to do is remain academically eligible in his or her sport.

Besides those benefits, the Mountaineers also offer a training table, nutrition, an operational budget for mental health on staff, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, equipment and academic counseling.

Now, multiply that by 260.5 scholarship athletes.

It is why WVU has a very competitive athletic budget of $90 million. That’s what it takes to be among the top 25-30 athletic programs in the Power Five.

Marshall’s athletic budget of $33 million seemingly pales in comparison to WVU’s budget, but one aspect has to be remembered. We’re not comparing apples and oranges.

The Thundering Herd has remained very successful at its Group of Five level. In fact, MU’s current $33 million budget is the largest in school history.

That allows Marshall to fund $7,243,028 worth of athletic scholarships, according to MU’s athletic department. Other operational costs are $3,748,376 for a total of $10,991,404.

It permits Marshall to fund 222.95 scholarships.

Now, who is ready for, perhaps, the most significant numbers?

WVU’s average athletic scholarship is worth $71,074. Meanwhile, Marshall’s average scholarship is worth $49,299.86.

If it sounds like WVU and Marshall are spending a lot of money, welcome to the world of major college athletics.

It ain’t cheap, folks.

And would we even want it to be? Of course not. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing correctly.

So, give WVU and Marshall credit.

Both schools are putting their money where their mouth is.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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