Athletic Scholarships: Myths and Misconceptions

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Athletic scholarships are rare.  “Full Rides” even more so.

Regardless of beliefs/misconceptions held by parents, even by the students themselves, only 4%-5% of high school athletes will ever play a sport in college.  Of those that play for their school, only D1 athletes will receive a “full ride” and those rides are limited to 6 sports – basketball and football for men, basketball, gymnastics, tennis, and volleyball for women. 

Those rides are further limited by the number of scholarships a school is permitted to award, as well as the scholarships that may be available in any given year.  All other collegiate athletes receive either partial or no athletic scholarship money.

So, let’s avoid those myths and misconceptions…

Myth 1: Every athletic scholarship is a full ride. 

The average athletic scholarship is less than the annual cost-of-attendance ($18,000).  All sports other than those mentioned above are considered “equivalency” sports.  This means the coach can divide available money among players, without restriction on who can receive how much.  Further, while D1 schools may provide multi-year scholarships, the vast majority are year-to-year and may not be renewed.

Myth 2: Scholarships are available only for Football, Basketball, and Baseball.

Not true.  Partial scholarships are available for a multitude of sports.  Families should weigh partial athletic scholarships against other financial aid offers.  Families may receive more in need-based financial aid then through an athletic scholarship.  An athletic scholarship may not be in the best financial interests of the family.

Myth 3: Scholarships are only available at the D1 level.

Also untrue.  Athletic scholarships are available at the D2, NAIA, and Junior College levels.  Even D3 makes merit-based, not-athletic scholarships available to prospective athletes.

Myth 4:  Good grades aren’t needed.

Good high school grades are a must.  Students signing a Letter of Intent face many stipulations, including the need to maintain a minimum GPA and to exhibit good conduct.  Let’s face it, the school is paying the student to play, providing education, food, room, board, etc.  Coaches won’t recruit athletes they believe may not do well in college and high school grades can be a good measurement of future success. 

Myth 5: College coaches will contact players.

They may, but more than likely they will not.  Coaches face a number of restrictions on how, when, and how often they may contact a player.  There is no limitation on how often a student or his high school/club/travel coach can contact the college coach.  A failure to communicate can be tied to a number of reasons, from looking at the wrong school for you, it’s the wrong program, or the coach is prohibited from making contact.  The burden is on the player to market themselves.

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