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?

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