Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
Many Ohio State students hope to make a small portion of what they spent when selling books back at the end of a quarter. However some student-athletes can make a profit during textbook sell-back time.
Up until last year, student-athletes received free textbooks as a part of their scholarship that they returned at the end of every quarter. Due to a change in Big Ten ruling, OSU student-athletes are allowed to sell back books – ones they receive for free with book scholarships – to bookstores for money.
The Big Ten’s old rule said students were allowed the use of free books and nothing more.
Kerry Kenny, assistant director of compliance at the Big Ten, said the old rule prohibited student-athletes from selling the books back.
“We used to have a rule that said you could only provide the use of the book to a student-athlete … for a course you were enrolled in,” Kenny said. “You were only provided with the use of the book.”
The change came about in Fall Quarter. The Big Ten decided to make this change to better correspond with rules held by the NCAA.
“The NCAA rules that students can keep the textbook or they can sell that book back and obtain the actual value for that book,” Kenny said.
Kenny also said the modification made sense because of the way the textbook industry is changing. Some things, like online books and binder-ring books, cannot be returned, which made it difficult to keep track of.
While the Big Ten sees the change as a better match with NCAA rules, OSU compliance said it was changed because of administrative issues.
Jessica Olms, associate director of compliance, said it was difficult keeping track of which students had returned their books and which students hadn’t.
“I honestly think the rule was activated to lower the administrative burden,” Olms said.
Kenny said administrative issues were not major motives for changing the rule, but it was an implicit benefit.
“That wasn’t a part of the conversation that prompted the change, but it’s definitely a positive result of putting the change in place,” Kenny said. “You don’t have to track who’s turning their books in at the end of the term, so they can get books at the start of the next term.”
The Big Ten and OSU might not agree on the direct reason for change, but officials agreed the rule amendment was not made as extra motivation for student-athletes to stay away from illegal means of cash.
“We don’t really look at it in that respect. It’s more permissible per NCAA rules to obtain required books and then it’s permissible per NCAA rules to keep those books or turn it in for the permissible value for that book,” Kenny said. “It’s not an impermissible benefit.”
Olms also said it was permissible.
Logan Jones, a redshirt freshman golf team member on book scholarship said he thinks OSU athletic director Gene Smith is behind the ruling.
“Since we’ve had the problems with just financial issues, Gene Smith thought it would be a good idea if we were allowed to have the books and then sell them to get a little extra money,” Jones said. “I think Gene (Smith) is trying to take off pressure on some students, like if they feel the urge to sell their stuff.”
Smith said in an email to The Lantern the new rule allows student-athletes to benefit from the program.
“The NCAA allows for the book program we developed to be implemented,” Smith said in the email. “It affords us a chance to address a student-athlete welfare issue by allowing our student athletes to benefit.”
The NCAA did not respond for a request for comment.
Some athletes at OSU said they don’t understand how the new policy is allowed under NCAA rules.
“I’m trying to figure out how that’s allowed with how the NCAA is about other things,” said Taylore Urban, a sophomore rower at OSU not on book scholarship. “It’s unfair at all the perks athletes get over other students that work just as hard and have jobs and have family issues.”
Urban also said it seems like the policy is unnecessarily taking money from the university.
“For Winter Quarter it was almost $500 for my books, and some athletes can sell that back and keep the money. I kind of think that’s not fair for the university,” Urban said.
Student-athletes are on strict ruling as to where they are allowed to return their books. The official OSU bookstore is Barnes & Noble on High Street, and this is the only place student-athletes are allowed to sell back their books.
Sara Brill, a third-year in English and non-athlete, said the program is unfair.
“It seems unfair. I pay for my own books and I pay for my own school, so I’m graduating with a lot of debt and I could attribute that to books,” Brill said.
Jones admitted the money he receives for books doesn’t make a huge difference, but anything helps.
“The funny thing is, even though the books you buy cost like $500 dollars or something like that, you only get less than like $100 back,” Jones said.