Max Rice is one of the best players on the Boise State men’s basketball team and one of the top returning shooters in the Mountain West Conference.
Yet some still think he shouldn’t even be on scholarship.
There’s a catch, of course. His dad Leon Rice is Boise State’s head coach, and as an employee of the University he’s potentially entitled to benefits that could lower his tuition costs. Some think that the scholarship would be better served going to another player.
But many popping off and criticizing on social media don’t have the slightest idea how much it would actually cost for Max Rice to move back to a walk-on. And neither did I – so I started investigating to find out.
Short answer: it would cost the Rice family about $29,000 to take Max off scholarship next season.
Disclaimer: I don’t think Max Rice should have to be a walk-on if he’s worthy of a scholarship. Even if the cost were free to his parents (which it’s not, and you’ll find out why soon), Rice shouldn’t have to give up the benefits and prestige of being on scholarship just because his dad is the coach. He’s earned the scholarship and he deserves it.
It shouldn’t happen, and I don’t think it will.
With help from Mike Walsh in Boise State’s Athletic Department, here is what I found…
First of all, according to policy 7045 ‘Educational Tuition and Fees Waiver Benefit’, an employee is allowed to get discounted tuition for only one dependent at a time. That’s where the problems begin because Leon and Robin Rice have two sons enrolled at Boise State, Max and his younger brother Kade, a walk-on guard who is finishing up his first year on campus.
If Kade is taking the benefit, Max would be on the hook for everything.
And the discount is only 65 percent off tuition and fees, meaning the Rice family must still pay 35 percent of tuition costs for one kid. It’s not “free” or even close to it as some on Twitter say. Since only one kid is eligible, the other would have to pay the full 100 percent should Max Rice be moved to walk-on.
Full tuition cost at Boise State for a full-time student (12 undergrad hours or nine masters hours) is around $4,200 per semester, or $8,400 per year. The Rice family would be on the hook for all of this for one kid, and about $3,000 for the other.
Moving from scholarship to walk-on would also mean Max Rice would lose the estimated $5,300 cost of attendance stipend, another roughly $13,800 room and board stipend and about $1,200 given to buy books and supplies. Those aren’t given to walk-ons.
Add it all up, and moving Max from scholarship to walk-on would cost the Rice family roughly $29,000.
The only ‘benefit’ a family gets on a kids tuition is the 65 percent discount, and that’s only for one kid. Any additional kids have to pay 100 percent of tuition and fees. And the other stuff a scholarship athlete receives (roughly $21,000 in stipends) has nothing to do with a parent being an employee of the University.
Now can Leon Rice and his family afford to pay $29,000 to take Max off scholarship for his final season to help the program add another potential impact player? Of course. Rice’s salary will be $950,000 this coming season.
But just because he can, doesn’t mean he should. Sure it would be a cool story – and heck it may happen – if Rice were to essentially legally pay to add another scholarship player to the roster as he builds his ‘super team’ this offseason. But Max Rice has earned the scholarship, and he or his dad shouldn’t get an ounce of criticism if they don’t want to fork over $29,000 to do it.
The reason this topic has come up of late is because Boise State has only one scholarship remaining but has been linked to several players in the transfer portal. The Broncos are trying to build a better, more deeper team than last year – Rice told BNN his goal was to build a ‘super team’ – and moving Max off scholarship would free up a spot to add another talented player.
But just because the scenario would work doesn’t mean they should do it.
Rice has made millions of dollars during his coaching career. He’s got plenty of money. And if he wants to fork over the five figures it would cost to add another player to the roster if he feels they could be a difference maker, that would be an awesome story and he should be commended for it.
But he doesn’t have to. And social media trash talkers and trolls should back off.
It’s not free. Not even close. It’s $29,000 out of Leon Rice’s pocket should he decide to bump Max from a scholarship to give his scholarship to somebody else. And he shouldn’t do it.
Max Rice has proven he is worthy of a scholarship. He deserves a scholarship. And his parents wealth should have nothing to do with it.
An All-Mountain West player does not get demoted from scholarship to walk-on. Rice was second on the team at 14.0 points per game last season and led the Broncos with 74 made 3-pointers at a team-best 40.9 percent clip. There’s a certain prestige and honor that comes with being on scholarship – and Max 100 percent deserves that.
Would one more scholarship player make the Broncos better? Probably. Does that mean Leon Rice should be criticized for not paying $29,000 to fund it himself? Not in the slightest.
His son is a scholarship player and deserves it. And that should be the end of it.
The Broncos figure to be really, really good next season either way.