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Big Ten going to multi-year scholarship model

Jim Delany AP

For those football players who sign National Letters of Intent with Big Ten schools Wednesday, that signature will afford them a lot more scholarship security than their predecessors ever had.

According to Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, most of the Big Ten schools as well as some other schools across the collegiate landscape are signing the members of their Class of 2012 — football only — to four-year scholarships instead of the previous standard of one-year renewable deals.

The move comes a few months after the NCAA approved the use of the multi-year scholarship initiative, although it’s not yet a requirement.  A full vote of the NCAA membership will take place later this month before the legislation is put into place across the board.

As the Plain Dealer writes, however, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany “encouraged” his membership to offer its football recruits the multi-year scholarships.  “Most — if not all — Big Ten schools” have taken Delany’s “encouragement” to heart.

“Some may look at it and say it’s symbolic,” Chad Hawley, the Big Ten’s associate commissioner for compliance, told Lesmerises. “In the vast majority of cases with a one-year grant, if student-athletes came in and did what they needed to do, it was renewed. But at the same time, I think there’s a peace of mind that goes beyond symbolism.”

The four-year scholarship is not an ironclad guarantee that recruits will have a scholarship during that time period regardless, though; Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith noted that the scholarships can be pulled due to academic or off-field issues.

While the Big Ten is going all in on the four-year renewables, their conference heavyweight counterpart is taking a wait-and-see approach. “We took the less regulatory approach to see how this is implemented across the country,” SEC associate commissioner for compliance Greg Sankey said, adding that commissioner Mike Slive continues to support the multi-year initiative.

For this signing period, however, it will be up to the individual SEC schools to determine the scholarship course it will take.  While Slive favors the multi-year scholarship approach, don’t look for any SEC school to voluntarily implement that approach.

South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier was the most vocal of the conference coaches who are against anything beyond the current one-year renewable model, and the schools in that league are expected to sign off on that tack for this signing class.  Of course, most view the multi-year scholarship model as a direct response to oversigning, specifically as that issue relates to the SEC.

Smith, the OSU AD, wants to make sure that people realize this is not a Big Ten issue, that “other places” in “need of a cultural change” need to take the same step his conference is taking.

“For those places that really need the cultural change, this is big,” Smith said. “There were some schools that ran players off because of their athletic ability, and so this helps. Now, those schools may not offer multi-year scholarships. But you would hope they would. And you would hope there’s pressure that would cause them to do it, because this isn’t how we should treat kids.

“But this is not a Big Ten issue, frankly. It’s in other places.”

The irony of Smith talking about institutions really needing a cultural change is too rich for me this early in the morning…

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12 Responses to “Big Ten going to multi-year scholarship model”
  1. woebegong says: Feb 1, 2012 7:47 AM

    The NCAA should adopt this change college wise. I bet you would see a lot less over signing by some of these coaches and a few less disappointments for some players. If it will in any way have an affect on the money game though, you can forget the NCAA doing what is right for the player.

  2. mrslay1 says: Feb 1, 2012 8:02 AM

    If they pass this you will also see (or not) the Kids that won’t get a chance at this level and miss out on a future (perhalps a big future). There is Good and bad on this subject and the coaches that understand know this

  3. woebegong says: Feb 1, 2012 8:23 AM

    Let’s be honest here though. A lot of these kids, never bothered to study to get ready to go to college, and the only reason they are in college is because they are good athletes. The NCAA is simply becoming the minor leagues for the NFL, NBA, and assorted pro. leagues and I still firmly believe that colleges need to get back to educating kids for the future of this country, in disciplines that can be used in our country. Yes, a few kids that might honestly do good in college will have to find a different way to get a college education, but most likely, they would never play in the NFL anyway, if that is their only reason for wanting to go to college. The inverse of that is also true, in that the money used to put these athletes in school, could also be used on those that can’t afford to go to college, due to their finances. They are left out wanting as well. Only .008 of these football athletes are ever going to play in a professional sports league. Are we being fair to them, offering them a free ride, to go for a future that is less than 1% probable?
    There are other means of getting into college for these kids besides playing a sport. The military has a GI bill and I stayed in 21 years and took full advantage of it, to get my degree. There are other types of scholarship available, there are trade schools, that might have specifically what the kid would be best to work at. They are also Junior Colleges, some of which offer a very good level of education and can prepare kids to meet the challenges of the future and the job market out there.

  4. Tim's Neighbor says: Feb 1, 2012 8:46 AM

    Of course the SEC is waiting.

  5. woebegong says: Feb 1, 2012 8:56 AM

    Not all of the SEC or any other conference and most of the fans are waiting for this change. This is one SEC fan of Georgia that would like to see the NCAA adopt it for every college, because if nothing else in life, I have learned the value of an education, and our future, although mine is limited at my age, but at least Americas future lies, in getting our kids educated and ready to meet the demands of the always changing technology and skill set required to meet those demands.
    I love football more than any other sport, but I would love to see our country get back on the right footing more. Educating our young folks is really the key.

  6. LogicalConsideration says: Feb 1, 2012 9:30 AM

    wobegong, I don’t know what the laws/rules in Georgia are, but in North Carolina, athletic scholarships are funded out of athletic department revenue and booster club fundraising. Even at schools that run deficits in their athletic budget, the scholarships are funded MOSTLY with athletic revenue. If athletic scholarships went away, the athletic revenue would collapse (as likely would booster donations). So, it is unrealistic to say “the money used to put these athletes in school, could also be used on those that can’t afford to go to college”. The money simply would never come in to the school in the first place.

    I back this initiative not because of over signing issues (heck, I think Big 10 schools would do it in a heart beat if they could get enough 4 and 5 star recruits to come up north where it is cold and the girls have to bundle up.), but because it is simply the right thing to do by the athletes.

    Spurrier—reminding us yet again that he is a selfish jerk.

  7. LogicalConsideration says: Feb 1, 2012 9:47 AM

    @ John Taylor, follow up thought that I doubt anyone has info on, yet.

    What about scholarships that are later offered to walk-ons? It seems to me that maybe those should be treated differently. If a coach already has a walk-on on his team and playing, sometimes he rewards them with a scholarship if their play merits it. But if he knows that instead of one year, it’s a 2 or 3 year commitment (I say 2 or 3 because obviously a walk-on would at least not have had a scholarship for the first year or two). They might well say, “Well, he’s nice to have, but I don’t want to lock myself in on a semi-marginal player when I might need to give that scholarship to a 4 or 5 star recruit in a few years.”

    It would be good to hear both what the Big10 is doing in this regard and what the NCAA proposed rule change would say in this regard.

  8. woebegong says: Feb 1, 2012 10:00 AM

    The UGA athletic scholarship are funded through the athletic dept. UGA football brought in 70 million last year, and they don’t have any issues money wise. I believe that UGA athletics already contributes to the college general fund, so it would probably not be a big issue, if some of the funds were used to give some non athletic scholarships to deserving students. The walk ons offered scholarships is also covered as UGA awarded 12 last year alone. I am not sure you could offer a multi year deal on those, so you are right, there would have to be a lot of work done before it could become NCAA wise. However, those walk ons, could be given a regular scholarship if the one they had was only for one year, and their grades merited it. I just think that it is needed with the way some coaches just disregard those kids that maybe didn’t turn into the next Tebow, etc. as they have done their best to perform. It needs to be a two way street.

  9. silverdeer says: Feb 1, 2012 11:33 AM

    If the SEC and other conferences do not want to go this route. I say don’t force them. You will find that the conferences that do go this route are going to have increased success in landing the top recruits. If you are an athlete and are looking at a conference that could yank your scholarship after a year because you didn’t perform that particular year as well as the coaches thought versus knowing that you have more time to prove yourself and get your degree, who are you going to go with?

  10. baywatchboy says: Feb 1, 2012 12:21 PM

    Following up on @logicalconsideration’s post

    If a school gives out all of its allotted scholarships every year and these are for 4 years, would there be scholarships available for walk-ons?

  11. woebegong says: Feb 1, 2012 12:27 PM

    Unless they increase the total number to greater than 85, there wouldn’t be. However, not a whole lot of schools, will sign 25-28 each year. They will be more selective in who they sign and you will almost always leave room for a couple of back scholarships that weren’t filled from the previous class. Coaches would have to be smart and not just fill a spot to prevent another school from getting the player. Something will also have to be done about the Gray shirts, that some coaches use excessively.

  12. dannawally says: Feb 2, 2012 11:44 AM

    One year renewable is the only honest scholarship basis and provides for the best football performance. The four year scholarship thing sounds nice, but if a guy doesn’t perform as expected he will be hounded unmercifully until he “voluntarily” gives up his scholarship.

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