In an effort to improve recruiting, University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden recently announced the school will honor scholarships in football, men's and women's basketball with four-year commitments.
Beginning July 1, all USC athletic scholarships in those three sports will be four years. The rule was limited to those three sports because they are defined as "revenue" sports (cue dismay at women's basketball classified as revenue producing).
The previous practice under NCAA laws allowed its member schools to grant scholarships based on one-year renewals. It seldom happened, but the agreement allows teams to dump a player to create a scholarship for someone the coach liked more.
When an athlete-student commits to a school, and more specifically a coach, it is almost universally accepted the agreement is four years. When a coach leaves, or is fired, that changes everything. What happens more often is the coach will not cancel the scholarship, but bury the kid on the bench in hopes they transfer.
The theory, for Haden, is that taking away any perceived threat that a student-athlete will not have that scholarship the next academic year will entice them to attend USC.
Whether or not this decision will start a trend remains to be seen.
"I think Northwestern started that a few years ago. It's something I am looking at," TCU director of athletics Chris Del Conte told me. "You have to look at all of those things. USC did it, and from my perspective I am trying to see the lay of the land on multi-year scholarships, unlimited meals, cost of attendance ... all of these things are under review. They all have financial consequences, and unintended consequences. I'm trying to see what those are before we make any type of decision on something like this.
"Listen, we just got here (to the Big 12), so I'm just trying to catch up and see how it all fits."
Should TCU follow USC's decision and grant four-year scholarships to football, men's and women's basketball players? It can't hurt, but it likely won't make much of a difference between landing the special players athlete-students they need to win.
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