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  • Writer's pictureWayne Mazzoni

Know The Truth About College Scholarships

When it comes to scholarships in college athletics, baseball included, there is a lot of confusion, myths and misconceptions. Here are some important truths to know and consider.


First and foremost, the NCAA allows 11.7 scholarships for a Division 1 college baseball team. This is for the whole program, not for each incoming freshman class. So it is pretty easy to do the math when you have 32 players on a roster and only 11.7 scholarships to award.


The second important piece is that the majority of Div. 1 schools are not fully funded, meaning they don’t have the money to give out all 11.7 scholarships. The reason is simply due to budgets. Colleges have budgets, so do athletic departments, and unless a baseball program is either a big state school, down south or out west with good weather and facilities, it is hard for athletic directors to justify spending that amount of money. Schools such as Clemson, Florida, North Carolina, USC, Arizona State, Texas — those schools in those conferences — are all fully funded. In fact, with the amount of ticket sales, concessions, merchandise, booster clubs, etc., they could give out 10 times that amount. That is why the NCAA caps the amount so that it is fair and all the money schools can’t scoop up all the good players and just beat all the lower programs.


Now coaches are free to give out whatever amount they want in baseball scholarship money, provided the lower end meets the onequarter of tuition amount. So if a school charges $30,000 in tuition, the amount of the scholarship must be at least $7,500. This can be in all baseball money or combined with any other institutional money (academic aid, grants from the school, etc.).


This bring up another issue. If a baseball-athlete gets $10,000 for biology and a $3,000 university grant, then if any baseball money is added to this, the whole amount counts toward the 11.7. So if the coach awards a $2,000 scholarship on top of those grants, the NCAA considers that that player is getting a $15,000 scholarship. This prevents coaches from abusing the available money from a school.


Coaches have different views on how they spend. Some will spread the money around as best as possible; others use it to attract the top one or two kids they can get in each recruiting class. If you want to know if you are a scholarship player, the best way is that somewhere in the recruiting process a coach is going to make you an offer. For players we really like, we don’t try to get them for free, we offer them money, and when we run out of money, we simply tell the player that we want them but there is no money left.


As most of you know, scholarship money is a one-year, renewable offer. You don’t sign a four-year deal, though the NCAA is thinking about changing this. Personally, I have never heard of a coach taking away a player’s money based on performance on the field, but rather due to academics, discipline issues, etc. From time to time, players who are not on scholarship money can earn it if they dedicate themselves to the program and if they perform on the field. You can ask a coach about this during the recruiting process.


The other question I always am asked is whether or not you can negotiate a scholarship amount. The answer is yes, but be very careful. I relate this to asking for more money at a job.


Let’s say you get another offer from another company for $10,000 more then you are getting now. If you tell your boss, he can say one of four things: 1.) We will match it; 2.) We can’t match it, but we can give you some more money; 3.) We’d love to keep you, but we just can’t pay any more right now; or 4.) Good luck at the new job!


It is the same with scholarships. If you say to a coach that you have another offer or that you simply need more money to commit to the school, well it could work, but it also could backfire. I would warn you of this: Do not make up that schools are interested in you and making an offer when they are not only to make yourself look better. The coaching world is very small and this may come back to hurt you.


Just play it honestly and things will work out.

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