Is the number of scholarship equivalencies in Division I baseball high enough?
Chris Lewis, a baseball student-athlete at Texas Lutheran, sent a note yesterday saying that the 11.7 permitted grants-in-aid isn’t sufficient.
Here’s his letter:
“Compared to other collegiate sports, baseball does not receive an adequate number of full scholarships and should receive more.
“Football programs have 85 full scholarships to give to recruits, although only 22 players play in games. Baseball programs only receive 11.7 full scholarships for eight starting position players and roughly 10 to 12 pitchers who pitch regularly during a season. Therefore, collegiate baseball players rarely receive full scholarships while most players in collegiate football programs receive full scholarships, even if they do not play all season. In this scenario, baseball players who play significantly throughout a season are crippled by tuition and do not get the same financial relief as football players.
“The distribution of scholarships between sports should be re-evaluated and redistributed adequately between football and baseball. This will make for better recruiting, better player signing and, ultimately, better collegiate baseball.”
Texas Lutheran is a Division III member, so Chris isn’t directly affected by this issue at the moment. However, he does plan to make a career of coaching college baseball.
Whether 11.7 is the correct number is a matter for the Division I membership. The Division I Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet currently is looking at financial aid limitations in all Division I sports, although that shouldn’t necessarily suggest that radical changes are on the way. Members can access Michelle Hosick’s recent update at NCAA.org.
As part of its examination, the financial aid cabinet is looking at how much permissible aid is being used in each sport. In baseball, 282 programs (96 percent of sponsoring institutions) provide some financial aid. Of those programs, 79 percent provide less than the permitted 11.7 equivalencies. Baseball also has a maximum head count of 27 student-athletes, but only 144 programs (51 percent) field that many players.
Similar shortfalls exist in almost all sports throughout Division I.
Also, it’s worth noting that NCAA and institutional financial aid limits must be constructed to facilitate compliance with Title IX. Because so much men’s financial aid is directed at football, other men’s sports sometimes feel the effects. Michelle Hosick examined this complicated relationship among revenue sports, men’s nonrevenue sports and women’s sports in the Winter 2010 issue of NCAA Champion magazine.
Chris raises an interesting argument. The short answer: The Division I membership is currently reviewing financial aid limits in all sports to make sure that they are appropriate.
Correction included: This post originally had the wrong last name for Chris Lewis. My apologies to Chris.