Patriot League Moves to Allow Football Scholarships
The Patriot League will allow member schools to use merit aid on football beginning with the Class of 2016. Schools will have up to 15 scholarships for each class and a cap of 60 students receiving aid in the school as a whole.
This decision closes a 15-year transitional period during which merit aid in the Patriot League spread to every sport, except football, with approval from the Council of Presidents. The new policy seemed inevitable. Fordham University, for example, had started using scholarships in 2010, violating Patriot League rules. Games with Fordham were not recorded as league-official, but now that may change.
Coupled with the coinciding conference realignments, the decision has the potential to reel a few competitive schools into the Patriot League.
"[The decision] gives us the opportunity to add some other schools to the league because now that we have scholarships in football, it'll be an attractive league for some schools to consider," Colgate Director of the Division of Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics David Roach said.
Since Colgate and other Patriot League schools were in a minority position – placed alongside the Pioneer League and Ivy League as the only Division I non-football scholarship schools – the pool for competition was small. All that, according to Roach, should change.
Many schools in the league will have to restructure their sports programs to stay in compliance with Title IX.
Most schools do not figure need-based aid into their equivalencies and are not required to. It's an institutional decision. Scholarships, however, must be accounted for so that other schools in the league will need to expand their athletic budgets, especially on the women's side, in order to follow Title IX.
"For us, [the decision] doesn't actually change things at all," Colgate Associate Director of Athletics Ann-Marie Guglieri said. "When we gave need-based aid for scholarships, we still counted that in our equivalencies so we were within the Title IX regulations before football went off scholarships and we'll have to make no adjustments now that we are on scholarships."
What, then, will change? For Colgate, admissions will lean on the same principles.
"I think the emphasis on the student part [of student-athlete] is still going to be as high as it ever was…because we're getting scholarships, doesn't mean our academic standards in terms of who we can recruit and who can get into Colgate is changing any," Guglieri said. "So the same admissions criteria that we're using to recruit all of our other student athletes is still going to be just as high…that same student-athlete on football scholarship needs to meet the same criteria as the student-athlete that we previously had had to meet."
"What having football scholarships does," Guglieri said, "is it allows us to go after the kid who has extremely high academics, and is a very good football player...[allowing] us to recruit more nationally."
Contact Thomas Hedges at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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