The proposal to allow schools to give student athletes multiyear scholarships, instead of annual scholarships that must be renewed every year, was upheld (just barely) last week in a vote of the NCAA membership, despite quite a few coaches not being on board with the idea.
Mark Richt is totally on board, though, because that’s the way Georgia’s been operating unofficially under him all along. As he said last month, “When we sign a young man, we expect him to see through to graduation. I know contractually it is one year at a time, but from what’s in my heart and from what’s in the heart of the University of Georgia is for these guys to make it all the way through to graduation. It means a whole lot to us. I don’t think it will change the way we view taking care of these guys.”
In fact, UGA athletic director Greg McGarity told the Athens Banner-Herald that Georgia is likely to offer multiyear scholarships in time for the spring signing period.
“I think it’s good legislation,” McGarity said of the NCAA plan. “Mark Richt adheres to it anyway. The bottom line is when he signs a kid, he has him around unless they leave on their own accord or they tend to violate team rules. Anybody that conducts their program in the right way, when they sign a young man or young woman to a scholarship, they want to see it through.”
The key words there being conducts their program in the right way. Not everyone sees the issue the way Richt and McGarity do. South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, for example, has called multiyear scholarships a “terrible idea,” asking, “What if a young man decides he doesn’t want to give much effort or go weightlifting or go to workouts? How do you get rid of him? Everybody has to earn his or her way in life.”
You have to wonder how comments like that will play out in the recruiting world. Already, schools objecting to the NCAA proposal said they feared that mutiyear scholarships could be used as a recruiting lure.
Well, duh. If you’re a kid choosing between schools, wouldn’t you rather go with one that’s offering you multiple years at college instead of just one?
Whether UGA’s stand on the issue really will be a big stick in the recruiting world is open to debate. With five-star recruits who aren’t likely to be worrying about getting their scholarships renewed each year, it probably won’t be much of a factor.
But that’s a relatively small portion of each recruiting class. When it comes down to those three-star and below players who fill out the roster and make it possible for the five-star guys to become stars, UGA and other schools that offer the multiyear deals might indeed have an edge.
Of course, even if multiyear offers becomes the prevailing way to go, the Nick Sabans of the college football world will always find a way to run off of a kid they don’t want around any more, whether it’s through rules enforcement or creative medical disqualifications.
Sure, offering multiyear grants could occasionally end up biting you in the butt. In the past, even Richt has encouraged some kids who didn’t buy into his program to “get off the bus,” and that might be trickier if you’ve given them a multiyear scholarship, unless they’re violating the rules.
But the bottom line is that NCAA schools, particularly profitable elite programs like Georgia’s, make millions of dollars off their student athletes. I believe guaranteeing them that those promises made to them during recruiting aren’t going to go away after a year if they’re no longer needed is the right thing to do.
How about you?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg