Thursday, December 29, 2011

Universities Object to Multi-Year Athletic Scholarships

Universities are standing firm against anything that moves college sports towards more of a profession "pay for play" model.  Businessweek reports:
For the second time in less than two weeks, schools are objecting to a reform measure sought by university presidents and endorsed by NCAA president Mark Emmert.

More than 75 schools are asking to override a plan approved in October to allow multi-year athletic scholarships rather than the one-year renewable awards schools currently provide. That's the minimum number of dissenters needed for reconsideration by the Division I Board of Directors when it meets next month in Indianapolis at the annual NCAA convention. The NCAA announced the change the Friday before Christmas.

On Dec. 15, the NCAA suspended plans to give athletes a $2,000 stipend for living costs not covered by scholarships after at least 125 schools objected. The higher number of protests allows the organization to immediately put the change on hold.

Both measures were pushed by Emmert and adopted as emergency legislation after a presidential summit in August.
Indiana State University, a program with a comparatively small athletic program, explains their objections in unvarnished terms as follows (here in PDF):
This proposal, if accepted, is going to create some real nightmares if put into practice. Biggest concern pertains to the nature of college athletics. Coaches are going to be compelled to give these multi-year scholarships to compete on the recruiting front with other schools. Problem is, many coaches, especially at the FCS level, in all sports, are usually not around for five years and when the coach leaves, the new coach and insitutiton may be "stuck" with a student athlete they no longer want (conduct issues, grades, etc.) or the new coach may have a completely different style of offense/defense that the student athlete no longer fits into. Yet, the institution is "locked in" to a 5 year contract potentially with someone that is of no "athletic" usefulness to the program. Obviously, the student athlete can leave school if he/she wants and there's no harm done; but it doesn't work both ways.

Leaving it up to the discretion of the institutions to decide whether to use multi-year scholarships just creates another competetive/recruiting disadvantage for many schools whose coaching positions are many times mere "stepping stone" for a coach/staff to get to the higher paying, more prominent jobs. To get the recruits that will make a program better, coaches are going to be forced to offer these multi-year scholarships just to make sure they have the recruits to help them win.

The current system works. We don't need to get into bidding wars where one school offers a $75% for 2 years and the other school then offers 85% for 3, etc., etc. This puts the kid into a situation where they almost need an agent/advisor just to determine the best "deal." Again, if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
The problem of course is that it is broke. St. Francis University registers similar complaints:
This goes against everything the NCAA has stood for over the years; in fact on several occasions it has been stressed that student-athletes are to be integrated into the student body and given the same treatment as the general students. In addition, this proposal will likely result in negotiation tactics which are going to more closely resemble professional contract negotiations as student-athletes strive for the "best deal." The next step of the process will possibly involve "third parties" (the politically correct term for "agents" which is a bad word in the NCAA world) representing the student-athletes in these negotiations.
The lack of big schools objecting to the proposal is worth noting.


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