Somewhat lost in the shuffle and hubbub of National Signing Day was word that some schools across the country have decided to give the athletes in their respective 2012 recruiting classes guaranteed multiyear scholarships. In fact, nine of the Big Ten’s 12 schools confirmed to various media outlets Wednesday that their scholarships no longer had to be renewed annually. At least two SEC schools – Auburn and Florida – went the multiyear scholarship route, as well.
The NCAA began allowing multiyear scholarships in October, though many schools have since voiced objection to such a proposal becoming the standard. One-year renewable scholarships – with a maximum of five years of athletic financial aid – have been utilized since 1973.
But in the Big Ten, the use of multiyear scholarships is becoming increasingly common. Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois gave guaranteed four-year scholarships to the 2012 recruiting class, according to ESPN.com. Ohio State and Nebraska offered their 2012 recruiting class multiyear grants. Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota continued to award one-year renewable scholarships.
Virginia Coach Mike London said Wednesday that he was not in favor of handing out guaranteed four-year scholarships, noting that “right now, ours is a one-year renewable understanding that it’s a two-way street. I’ve got to coach you, teach you, give you the examples of what’s expected. And then you have to do what’s expected in order for every July, when you renew those scholarships, to make it happen again.”
For London, who officially ushered in a 25-member recruiting class that Rivals.com ranked No. 26 in the nation, the primary issue is accountability. If a coach offers a player a guaranteed multiyear scholarship, and said player then fails to live up to the academic and/or social standards set by the program, then what is the coach’s recourse?
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Buckeyes athletes still could lose their multiyear scholarships for academic or off-the-field shortcomings.
“We’re in this window of reform,” Smith told the Plain Dealer, “and this is the start of it.”
The push for multiyear scholarships was a response in large part to coaches who were pulling scholarships from players as soon as better talent was secured on the recruiting trail or a new scheme was implemented that did not fit said players’ strengths.
London said that at each of the two schools where he has served as head coach, FCS Richmond and Virginia, he never has revoked the scholarship of a player who met the coach’s standards in the classroom and in the community.
“It’s when you guarantee something and those young men fall outside the boundary of doing what they’re supposed to do in the community, doing what they supposed to do academically, you know, if you have policies about class attendance and performance in the class, things like that – if they continue to show that they have a disregard for that, then there has to be some way that you have remedy to say, ‘I’m not going to continue this and reward that type of behavior,’” London said.
At some point this month, all Division I schools will participate in an online vote to determine whether the NCAA’s proposed multiyear scholarship rule becomes a requirement.