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Examiner
  • Tim Crone: The reality of athletic scholarships

  • Parents and grandparents often amaze me.

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  • Parents and grandparents often amaze me.
    They are convinced that their child or grandchild is a specially talented athlete and will some day receive a college scholarship for their athletic abilities. Love can be blind.
    My oldest daughter was fortunate to receive a volleyball scholarship at a junior college. She played two great years but that is as far as her talent in sports could take her. She was a very good student, which earned her scholarship money to pay for the remainder of her undergraduate education.
    I have four grandchildren who I think are the whole universe, but I know in reality their academic future will be determined in the classroom and not on an athletic field. The scholarship dream pursued by all can be very difficult to obtain.
    FinAid is a website that will explain the realities of the athletic scholarship world. Approximately 1 to 2 percent of students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program will receive athletic scholarships. Of schools with NCAA affiliation, only Division I and Division II schools may offer athletic scholarships. Division III schools – the most prestigious institutions – are precluded from offering athletic scholarships. Schools with other affiliations, such as NAIA, offer athletic scholarships according to the policies of the associations to which they belong.
    When all these young athletes begin to play sports, they suddenly come under the impression that they are in the running to receive a big-time college scholarship. Many times these young athletes are chosen for competition teams, which equates to many that their kid is automatically on the road to a full ride.
    Usually, sane and responsible parents can become totally out of whack with statistical reality. The competition team coaches need to be truthful with everyone about the statistical possibility of receiving an athletic scholarship. Parents should research the facts.
    I found an article on the Internet worthy of reading. It is written by Lynn O’Shaughnessy and is entitled "7 Things You Need to Know About Sports Scholarships." She wrote this on June 22, 2010, but it holds true today and was a fact before she wrote the article:
    1. The odds are remote. There are roughly 138,000 athletic scholarships for Division I and Division II sports. That might sound like a lot, but it isn’t. For instance, more than one million boys play high school football, but there only about 19,500 football scholarships. Nearly 603,000 girls compete in track and field in high school, but they’re competing for around 4,500 scholarships.
    2. The money is not that great. The average athletic scholarship is about $10,400. Only four sports offer full scholarships to athletes who receive scholarships: football, men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. If you exclude football and men’s basketball, the average scholarship drops to $8,700.
    3. Most scholarships are sliced up and diced. The NCAA dictates how many athletic scholarships each sport can offer in Division I and Division II. To squeeze out the maximum benefit, coaches routinely split up these awards. For instance, a Division I soccer coach is allowed up to 10 scholarships, but he or she can dole out this money into tinier scholarships to lure more athletes to their campuses. This practice can lead to some awfully dinky scholarships.
    Page 2 of 2 - 4. Don’t wait to be discovered. Unless your child is a superstar, college coaches probably won’t know he or she exists. Teenagers should send an email to introduce themselves to coaches at schools that they think they’d like to attend. They should include such info as their positions, statistics and coach contacts.
    5. Use YouTube. To attract the attention of coaches, jocks should compile seven or eight minutes of their best stuff in an action video and then post it on YouTube. Send coaches the link.
    6. Scholarships are not guaranteed. If your teem receives a sports scholarship, don’t assume that it’s going to be for four years. Athletic scholarships MUST BE RENEWED each year and that’s at the coach’s discretion. The pressure to maintain athletic scholarships can distract stressed students from what should be their main goal – earning a degree.
    7. The best places for money can be in Division III. The best way for many athletes to win a scholarship is to apply to colleges that don’t award athletic scholarships. Yes, that’s right. Division III schools, which are typically smaller private colleges, routinely give merit awards for academics and other student accomplishments. The average merit grant that private colleges are rewarding slashes the tuition tab by more than 50 percent.
    The reality is that parents and athletes need to understand the true situation about athletic scholarships and look into how the process really works. Too many times uninformed parents and athletics listen to youth competition coaches who promise the moon. Hopefully your child will be one of the lucky ones to get a scholarship, but the truth of the matter is that all that money you spend on elite teams probably should go into some interest-bearing account to be used to help the OLD COLLEGE FUND. Now that is reality!
    n My quote of the week comes from Albert Schweitzer: "Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now – always."
    Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 5-6 p.m. every Tuesday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net
     

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