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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In-Depth Look at College Scholarships in Non-Revenue Sports

The New York Times last week published a series of articles over the course of three days with the overall title of "The Scholarship Divide." According to the brief synopsis given by the NYT, they are "exploring the chase for N.C.A.A. scholarships, the scarcity of athletic aid, and the challenges facing coaches and scholarship athletes."

Although tennis is mentioned only in the two charts detailing the average scholarship amounts by sport and the number of scholarships by sport, the sports that do get examination at the two Division 1 schools investigated--field hockey, swimming, baseball, soccer, softball, lacrosse--differ very little from tennis on the collegiate level.

It's difficult to overemphasize the importance of this series for junior tennis players and their families. I've heard from many that the recruiting process is traumatic and seeing these numbers, I can understand why. The disparity between men's and women's scholarships, 4.5 to 8.0, had always left me to surmise that women were nearly assured of a full scholarship, but as the chart shows, the percentage is a much less: 65%. For the men, it is 43%, which is higher than I had supposed. (Who would have guessed that ice hockey outstrips football and basketball for scholarship value per recipient, for men and women?).

Not only are the numbers enlightening, but the final two stories explore the challenges that arise once the student-athlete begins competing. I've probably been guilty myself of romanticizing the college experience; for a student-athlete, it is a very demanding four years, especially when your "play" has become your "work."

Free registration is required to access these stories, but if you are a junior tennis player (or any high school athlete) or the parent of one, (or a college coach, for that matter), please take the time to read them.


The Slappy Professor said...

I appreciate your calling attention to this important article series. I am a professor at an ACC school and a huge fan of the tennis programs here. The student-athletes here work hard in the classroom (for the most part -- though no less than the range of effort put in by all students) and on the court. Still, they have to fulfill two conflicting roles, since there are a limited number of hours in the day and both academics and athletics are time-intensive enterprises. Essentially, they are full time students and have to work 20-30 hour-per-week (or more) jobs at the same time. So inevitably, sacrifices must be made. And I think those sacrifices tend to come on the academic end rather than the athletic end. For this reason, I have always been conflicted myself about whether I would want my now 13 year old son to play tennis in college (if that were possible), especially at the Division I level.

tom said...

see www.tomparham.wordpress.com for a related book review.