By Zac Ellis
Few athletes are benefiting from multiyear scholarships, according to a report by the Chronicle for Higher Education. After the NCAA adopted a policy last year to allow schools to offer multiyear financial aid to student-athletes, the assumption was that many universities would take advantage. However, that hasn't been the case.
Only six schools in the six major conferences signed at least 24 multiyear scholarships across all sports over the past year: Florida (60), Ohio State (47), NC State (40), Michigan State (30), Arizona State (27) and Auburn (27). Programs tend to prefer single-year scholarships with the option to renew annually.
The multiyear policy was adopted to give student-athletes more rights and discourage the cutting of scholarships on the basis of athletic performance. Many programs still disagree with the idea of a guaranteed four-year scholarship, maintaining that the majority of single-year scholarships are renewed each year.
"Who gets a four-year, $120K deal guaranteed at age 17?" Christine A. Plonsky, women's athletic director at the University of Texas, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. "The last thing young people need right now is more entitlement."
But, according to the Chronicle, former players say the cuts still happen far too frequently -- and they add to the excess of player transfers that occur across college athletics. According to the report, the NCAA says about 40 percent of men's basketball players will not be members of their original school by the end of their sophomore years; that figure is similar in other sports.
Proponents says multiyear scholarships enhance the "student" in student-athlete. Jason Pappas, an assistant instructor of sport management at Florida State, told the Chronicle they're a step in the right direction.
"It sends a strong message that you're committed to develop that student as a whole person, not just as an athlete. You should support them all the way through until graduation, or until they have an opportunity to play professionally."
Schools' desire to tie scholarships to performance is reasonable; they want to have some form of insurance. But in an era when criticism of the NCAA's notion of amateurism has risen to an all-time high, single-year scholarships don't appear to be in a student-athlete's favor -- especially if the emphasis truly is on "student." The most interesting angle to watch moving forward may surround recruiting. Multiyear scholarships could become a lot more common if schools that offer them gain a significant advantage in attracting the country's top prospects.