Koach Karl brings you the final chapter of this great article on Sports Scholarships.
In 2003-4, N.C.A.A. institutions gave athletic scholarships amounting to about 2 percent of the 6.4 million athletes playing those sports in high school four years earlier. Despite the considerable attention paid to sports, the select group of athletes barely registers statistically among the 5.3 million students at N.C.A.A. colleges and universities.
Scholarships are typically split and distributed to a handful, or even, say, 20, athletes because most institutions do not fully finance the so-called non revenue sports like soccer, baseball, golf, lacrosse, volleyball, softball, swimming, and track and field. Colleges offering these sports often pay for only five or six full scholarships, which are often sliced up to cover an entire team. Some sports have one or two full scholarships or none at all.
The N.C.A.A. also restricts by sport the number of scholarships a college is allowed to distribute, and the numbers for most teams are tiny when compared with Division I football and its 85-scholarship limit. A fully financed men's Division I soccer team is restricted to 9.9 full scholarships, for freshmen to seniors. These are typically divvied up among as many as 25 or 30 players. A majority of N.C.A.A. members do not reach those limits and are not fully financed in most of their sports.
Ms. Milhous, whose Villanova field hockey team plays in the competitive Big East Conference, must make tough choices in recruiting. The N.C.A.A. permits Division I field hockey teams to have 12 full scholarships, but her team has fewer. "I tell parents of recruits I have eight scholarships, and they say: "Wow, eight a year? That's great," she said. And I say: "No, eight over four or five years of recruits. And I've got 22 girls on our team. That can mean a $2,000 scholarship, which surprises parents.
"They might argue with me," Ms. Milhous said. "But the fact is I've got girls getting from $2,000 to $20,000, and it all has to add up to eight scholarships. It's very subjective, and remember, what I get to give out is also determined by how many seniors I've got leaving." Two Brothers, Two Stories Joe Taylor, a soccer player at Villanova, received a scholarship worth half his roughly $40,000 in college costs when he graduated from a suburban Philadelphia high school three years ago. He had spent years on one of the top travel soccer teams in the country, F.C. Delco, and had several college aid offers. "It was still a huge dogfight to get whatever you can get," Mr. Taylor said. Everyone is scrambling. There are so many good players, and nobody understands how few get to keep playing after high school."
In 2003-4, there was the equivalent of one full N.C.A.A. men's soccer scholarship available for about every 145 boys who were playing high school soccer four years earlier. "There's a lot of luck involved really," Mr. Taylor said. "I can pinpoint a time when I was suddenly heavily recruited. It was after a tournament in Long Island the summer after my junior year. I scored a few goals. The Villanova coach was there, and so were some other college coaches. Within a couple of days, my in-box was full of e-mails. I've wondered, what would have happened if didn't play well that day?
Mr. Taylor has a younger brother, Pat, who followed in his footsteps, playing on the same national-level travel team and for the same Olympic developmental program. "He did everything I did, and in some ways I think he's a better player than me," Joe said. "But you know, I think he didn't have the big game when the right college coaches were there. He didn't get the money offers I did." Pat Taylor is a freshman at Loyola College in Baltimore. Though recruited, he did not make the soccer team during tryouts last fall. "I feel terrible for him” he worked as hard as I did for all those years," Joe Taylor said.
Their father, Chris Taylor, said he once calculated what he spent on the boys' soccer careers. "Ten thousand per kid per year is not an unreasonable estimate," he said. "But we never looked at it as a financial transaction. You are misguided if you do it for that reason. You cannot recoup what you put in if you think of it that way. It was their passion still is and we wanted to indulge that. So what if we didn't take vacations for a few years." Pat Taylor, who started playing soccer at 4, said it took him about a month to accept that his dream of playing varsity soccer on scholarship in college would not happen. He looks back fondly on his youth career but also wishes he knew at the start what he knows now about the process.
"The whole thing really is a crapshoot, but no one ever says that out loud," he said. "On every team I played on, every single person there thought for sure that they would play in college. I thought so, too. Just by the numbers, it's completely unrealistic. And if I had it to do over, I would have skipped a practice every now and then to go to a concert or a movie with my friends. I missed out on a lot of things for soccer. I wish I could have some of that time back."
Check back next week for another interesting article.