How athletic scholarships work

Published: Oct. 28, 2019 at 11:41 AM CDT
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Only about 2 percent of high school athletes are awarded athletic scholarships to compete in college. Elite company, but not all athletic scholarships are created equal.

With athletic scholarships, high schoolers and families across the country realize a dream fulfilled with a full ride to a university. The reality is not all athletic scholarships are deemed as full rides. It varies from division to division in the NCAA and from sport to sport.

Let’s start with what parents may receive in the mail: interest letters. Just because you receive correspondence from a university, it doesn’t mean that’s an offer to a scholarship, but quite the opposite.

First of all, if you got a letter in the mail, there’s probably 3,000 other kids who got the same letter.

Bob Jones head football coach Kevin Rose has sent countless high school players to the next level and has broken down to many players and families what those interest letters mean.

“In my opinion, if you haven’t been on there campus, you haven’t been in the head coach’s office and he hasn’t said those words to you, then you don’t have an offer. You just have some interest," said Rose.

Rose would know. His son, Caden Rose, is a two-sports standout at Bob Jones. He plays football for his dad and also shines on the baseball diamond with a scholarship from Alabama. Does a baseball scholarship at the Division 1 level equal fully guaranteed scholarship? Think again.

“A lot of people are getting 30 percent, 40 percent scholarships. And the lowest scholarship they’re allowed to give is 25percent, so some people are on 25 percent. Yes, you’re getting an athletic scholarship, but you’re still paying $20,000 a year to go to that university or more," said Rose.

That’s right. Division one baseball programs only receive 11.7 scholarships. There are normally 30-plus players on a roster. This is what’s called equivalency scholarships. That means there is no restriction on how many athletes can be on scholarship, but there is a limit on the number of scholarships a team can have.

Every sport outside of football at the FBS level, Division 1 basketball, tennis, gymnastics and volleyball are exempt. That’s because those sports are considered head count sports, meaning each athlete receives a full scholarship that covers all cost for that student at their respective university.

Remember, the student athletes and families have the power during the process. You’ve just got to remember that you hold all the cards. You have to make sure that you make the decision for yourself and at the right timing for you. You can’t let somebody else pressure you on a decision that will affect you the next 25 years of your life.

You need to be realistic in your view from your head coach, your position coach, and on where you got a chance to play and where you have a mutual interest. And those are the places you need to seek out.

It’s a difficult world to navigate, but education and knowledge on what scholarships are potentially available to your student athlete is key.

Click here for a breakdown on how many scholarships are allotted for each level of collegiate athletics.

Copyright 2019 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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