The scholarship problem for student-athletes

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Part 1 of 3 in a series regarding the finances for UVU Athletics

Kyle McDonald | Sports editor | @kylesportsbias

As an NCAA Division I institution, Utah Valley University has rules and regulations it has to play by especially with regards to its financial situation.  Like other NCAA institutions, UVU is restricted in how many full scholarships they can offer to student-athletes.  For instance, the UVU baseball team has over 30 student-athletes in their program.  NCAA rules stipulate that UVU can only offer 11.7 baseball scholarships.

Valerie Cheatham, Photo Editor, @valeriecheatham

Valerie Cheatham, @valeriecheatham

“Really, scholarships come down a lot of times maybe not even what a player’s ability and talent,” UVU baseball head coach Eric Madsen said. “But obviously it depends on our needs and how bad we want him and what they have to have. So when you try to manage it, it would be great if we could just give everybody the same amount which it should be but that’s not the way the rules state.”

One problem the baseball team and other teams face at UVU is that when a player, who is on scholarship, quits the team, they can’t give that scholarship to another player until the following season.

Many of the student-athletes either have to pay tuition out of their own pocket or they receive academic scholarships.

“There is a misnomer in the media that all student-athletes receive scholarships,” Senior Associate Athletic Director Jared Sumsion said. “When the reality is very few are actually on full scholarship.”

The amount of scholarships isn’t based on which teams bring in the most money either.  The UVU men’s basketball team is one of those teams who contribute the most money to the university through their ticket sales, guaranteed games, fundraising, concessions, clothing sales etc.  However, they have 18 members on the 2015-16 roster and only 13 of those players have full scholarships.  The limitation on the amount of scholarships that can be allotted tends to have a big effect on the various teams especially when it comes to recruiting.

“Scholarship allocation is a big deal to prospective recruits,” Sumsion said. “With all the recent changes in the NCAA (cost of attendance, food programs, etc.), we find ourselves trying to keep up and find innovative ways of doing more with less.”

Another problem that UVU men’s basketball head coach Mark Pope faces is that he can’t split any of those 13 scholarships up.  He can’t give a half scholarship to one player and then the other half to a different player.  By NCAA rules, he has to give one full scholarship to one player.

“The NCAA only allows us to give 13 full scholarships,” Pope said.  “We can’t break it up like baseball or soccer. So what we have is a host of walk-ons and we’ve been fortunate with our walk-on situation.”

Gabi Campbell, Photo Editor, @gabicampbellphotos

Gabi Campbell, @gabicampbellphotos

What some people might not know is that all NCAA Division I basketball programs have to abide by these regulations when it comes to scholarships.  It is not something that is unique to UVU.

“We are under the exact same restrictions as every other Division I basketball program,” Pope said. “So for us it’s probably less complicated in that sense.”