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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An athletic scholarship is a form of scholarship to attend a college or university awarded to an individual based predominantly on his or her ability to play in a sport. Athletic scholarships are common in the United States, but in many countries they are rare or non-existent.

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United States

In the United States, athletic scholarships are largely regulated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which sets minimum standards for both the individuals awarded the scholarships (in terms of GPAs and standardized test scores) and for the institutions granting them (in terms of the form and value of the scholarships and the proportion of recipients who must ultimately earn degrees).

In 1973, the NCAA split its membership into three divisions: Division I, Division II, and Division III. Under NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can offer scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. Division III schools may not offer any athletic scholarships. Generally, larger schools compete in Division I and smaller schools in II and III.

Division I football is further divided into the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS, formerly I-A) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, formerly I-AA). The two differ in several ways:

  • Postseason system: FBS uses postseason bowl games, while FCS uses a single elimination playoff, expanding from 16 to 20 teams in 2010.
  • Number of football scholarships: FBS schools are allowed 85 players receiving athletic aid, while FCS schools are allowed 63 scholarships. The wording is a very important distinction for another reason.
  • Awarding of partial scholarships: Because each player receiving athletic aid for football counts fully against an FBS team's scholarship limit, this effectively means that all players awarded football scholarships at FBS schools receive full scholarships. On the other hand, FCS schools are allowed to divide their 63 scholarships among no more than 85 individual players.

Some schools or leagues permitted by the NCAA to award athletic scholarships nevertheless prohibit them among their students. An example is the Ivy League, which is part of Division I FCS. The three service academies that participate in Division I FBS football (Army, Navy, and Air Force) are exempt from NCAA scholarship limits because all students at those schools, whether or not they are varsity athletes, receive full scholarships from the service branch that operates the academy.

Institutions that engage in misconduct may be stripped of the ability to award a certain number of athletic scholarships. The ultimate penalty, the suspension of an entire athletic program from participation for a set period of time, is popularly known as "The Death Penalty"; it has only been levied three times against schools now in Division I: against Kentucky basketball in 1952, Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) basketball in 1973, and SMU football in 1986.

Other countries

In other countries athletic scholarships are far more restricted.

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Canada

In Canada, for instance, Canadian Interuniversity Sport rules ban all entrance scholarships for athletics, and athletes can only get funding once they enter their second year of school. Even then, the amount is based on the total team due to Ceiling Rules (Not one student can receive the bulk of the award, it has to be shared among his team members equally). It is not capped as previously mentioned. Ontario, which is home to many of Canada's largest universities, has even stricter rules. Less than a quarter of CIS athletes receive scholarships for their abilities. A major consequence of this is that many of Canada's top young athletes go to a university in the United States, where they can get much larger scholarships. This also may be one reason that two schools in the Vancouver area have attempted to petition to enter the NCAA in recent years. Simon Fraser University unsuccessfully tried to enter the NCAA in 2000 and was later affiliated to NCAA Division II on July 10, 2009 after a change in NCAA policy with respect to Canadian schools, while the University of British Columbia was seeking NCAA membership in 2007 but ultimately decided against the move.

  • Note - As stated on the CIS website:

• tuition and compulsory fees is the maximum amount you can receive for athletic-related awards in an academic year, including athletic-related bursaries.

• the value and quantity of athletic-related awards and bursaries available varies from institution to institution.

• specific awards and bursaries may have additional conditions, such as academic success and citizenship, beyond what is stated here.

• many awards, such as academic awards or awards provided by Sport Governing Bodies or the Federal and Provincial Governments, are not included within the tuition and compulsory fees maximum; please consult your Athletic Department.

• you are eligible to receive an award or bursary at the beginning of your first year (September) at a university if you have a minimum entering average of 80% or equivalent.

• alternatively, you are eligible to receive an award at the end of your first year at a university (spring or summer) if you satisfy CIS academic requirements with at least a 65% average or equivalent.

thereafter, you are eligible to receive an award at the beginning of any year if you satisfy CIS academic requirements with at least a 65% average or equivalent in the preceding year.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom entrance scholarships based on sporting ability are not traditional, though contrary to popular belief they are not actually banned. Sporting ability may be taken into account in admission for places on degrees in subjects such as sports science, and at the discretion of admissions staff sporting achievements may be taken into account on choosing candidates based on their ability to make an all round contribution to the institution in the same way as achievements in any other non-academic area. Students who are elite standard sports competitors are eligible for financial support from bodies such as UK Sport on the same basis as anyone else. Certain universities have a strong emphasis on sport, including Loughborough University and the University of Bath, each of which hosts a number of nationally funded training facilities. Some universities may make bursaries available to top student athletes, though these are generally not large. Some British students take athletic scholarships at American universities, a trend which is particularly noticeable in golf. Many top British golfers are graduates of American universities including Colin Montgomerie, Luke Donald and Paul Casey.

Arguments for and against sports scholarships

Critics have labelled the term to be an oxymoron, stating that physically talented persons selected for their ability to run, jump, throw, kick or hit a ball are retained to staff a school's teams, and paid for their services while being classified as "scholars".[citation needed] Some critics of the athletic scholarship system have coined the term "jockship" to describe the awards.[citation needed] The term is based on the word jock, a mildly derisive American slang term that plays on the stereotype of the "dumb athlete".

Such scholarships have been characterised as salaries paid to the persons selected in order to induce them to perform for the hiring school.[citation needed] (The characterization of the salary as a "scholarship" is deemed necessary because, generally, at most American colleges, participation as a member of the school's athletic teams is a privilege accorded exclusively to enrolled students, and team members are, in theory, amateurs.)

Supporters point out that many students would be unable to receive a higher education at all, but for the availability of athletic scholarships[citation needed] . Whereas academic scholarships are predominantly awarded to students coming from middle and upper class backgrounds (who could afford a better education in the first place)[citation needed], athletic scholarships tend to go to poorer, less privileged students, more often from minority backgrounds.[citation needed]

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