Friday, February 24, 2012

Multi-year scholarships ... anyone offering them?

Trying to determine how multi-year athletic scholarships (which can be offered by NCAA Division I colleges and universities now) might change football recruiting, I posed this question to the football recruiting experts at Dave Campell's Texas Football's “Mailbag Madness” column: “Now that Division I multi-year scholarships have withstood a challenge, are any Texas colleges or universities offering them?”

In response, they said they're not aware of any being offered so far, but ... so be sure to take a look at their insightful answer. (At that link, scroll down to the end of the page.)

See my previous post on multi-year scholarships for more background on them. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Multi-year scholarships survive ... just barely

The votes are in, and multi-year scholarships for Division I schools survive ... but just barely! Opponents of the optional multi-year scholarships, which now can be awarded to student-athletes instead of the previously required one-year renewable scholarships, needed 62.5 percent of the vote to overturn it. They got 62.12 percent, reports the NCAA.

Those percentages are based on similarly close vote counts. Overturning the measure would have required 207 votes -- five-eighths of the total -- from 330 institutions. But opponents only mustered 205 votes, reports Steve Wieberg in USA Today.

The vote was required of the Division I membership after enough schools complained about the multi-year scholarship reform measure, which was adopted late last year by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.

This extremely close vote indicates, however, that there's not much consensus on this issue among Division I institutions. So what are the implications? Hard to know at this point, because it depends on how many institutions move to multi-year scholarships, and how soon they do that. But it seems clear that it will be a great recruiting tool for the schools that offer them. And it would seem to be a great deal for student-athletes too, guaranteeing them a scholarship for the length of their eligibility, giving them needed security for all of the contributions they make to a school's athletic program and thus the school itself.

But might there be some downsides, too? For example, it would seem that there will be fewer opportunities for walk-on football players to earn a scholarship at a Division I school. That's simply because the guaranteed multi-year scholarships allow schools much less flexibility ... at least as compared to the renewable one-year scholarships ... in making year-to-year scholarship decisions. To be sure, fewer scholarships will now become available, under the 85-scholarship limit in place for Division I institutions, to walk-on players. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Multi-year scholarships ... changing the recruiting world?

Based on what we can see after National Signing Day last week, it’s hard to discern the effect of multi-season scholarships on recruiting. Those multi-year schollies are now allowed after the NCAA enacted a package of reforms, at the behest of NCAA president Mark Emmert, last fall.

To be sure, some schools reported signing new recruits to multi-year scholarships (Auburn, Florida, and all but three Big Ten schools – Indiana, Minnesota, and Purdue) last week. But there’s no word from so many others.

Did the offer of a multi-year scholarship at a particular school win any recruits over the offer of a single-year, renewable scholarship at a competing school? There’s not much, if any, news on that. Possibly this change is so new that is simply isn’t on the radar of many potential recruits and their parents … and therefore it doesn’t play much of a role in their decisions. It should.

Prior to this change, Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS) football programs could offer only single-year scholarships that had to be renewed from one year to the next.  Although not tremendously common, a scholarship that is only guaranteed for a year at a time can be pulled at the end of that year and awarded to someone else if a student-athlete isn’t deemed to be performing well enough for the team.  In contrast, a multi-year scholarship is cannot be pulled based on performance on the field – it’s more of a guarantee that the student-athlete will always have a scholarship throughout his football career in college.  

From the point of view of student-athletes, multi-year schollies could help control oversigning – a big and seems-to-be-growing problem among Division I FBS schools. Those schools are limited to 85 full-ride scholarships at any given time. So if a school signs, say, 25 recruits every year, they are oversigning student-athletes. That school obviously expects that quite a few of those recruits will not be on scholarship every year of their eligibility. Some of that happens through regular attrition … players decide they don’t to play football any longer, fail to make necessary academic progress, etc. But single-year, renewable scholarships also give those schools needed flexibility when they need to pull scholarships from some players, maybe only because the school needs that scholarship for an incoming recruit expected to contribute more over the long run.  And because student-athletes cannot transfer to another Division I school without sitting out a year, that’s seen as a bit unfair when coaches can take a job at another school without any such penalty.

Multi-year schollies are concern to schools that don’t have the financial resources to guarantee such a commitment. They’ll be at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting, widening the gap between the haves and have-nots in the world of college football, they say.

For all of these reasons, enough schools expressed concern that the NCAA is reconsidering its decision to allow multi-year schollies. Members will vote next week, from February 13 through February 17. Stay tuned.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Finding the lesser-known recruit ...

When I interviewed college coaches for my book Beyond Friday Nights: College Football Recruiting for Players and Parents, I asked if there any schools to which other coaches pay more attention when it comes to recruiting. In other words, do the coaching staffs at some schools have a reputation, among other college coaches, for finding and developing diamonds in the rough among lesser-known high school football players?

TCU is one of the schools known for that ability, I learned. There's quite a bit of evidence to support that belief, too. TCU football teams have performed at top-tier levels in recent years, but without top-tier recruiting classes, at least as based on such annual rankings by Rivals, Scout, ESPN, and others (if you believe in those things) on every signing day.

After signing day this year, which was only a few days ago, TCU's recruiting class was ranked No. 36 by Rivals and No. 24 by ESPN. So it will be interesting to see perhaps three, four, or five years from now how high TCU will be ranked for performance on the field at the end of the football season.

But what are the implications of all of this if you are a high school football player who hope to play in college? For one thing, it means that if TCU or another school with the same type of reputation for identifying potential among lesser-known high school players becomes interested in you, there's a good chance that other schools will begin looking more closely at you too.

But there's a bit of a downside, too. Too avoid bringing a below-the-radar recruit to the attention of other schools, sometimes a school (not necessarily TCU, I should point out) delays offering a scholarship to that guy. In other words, the school wants to keep its recruits "hidden" for awhile, rather than attracting attention from other schools that might want to recruit a player and convince him to sign elsewhere. That can lead to some anxious weeks or months for the recruit, who wonders why a school showing such strong interest in him won't pull the trigger and offer him a scholarship.

Thoughts and comments welcome below ...