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The Truth about “Athletic Scholarships”

If you have the potential or already have the results/skills to be considered for a college athletic scholarship, here are a few myths that you need to be aware before you embark on your recruiting trail:

The Truth about  “Athletic Scholarships”

Myth # 1: I will get a “Full Ride”. Truth: Most athletic scholarships are partial.

Many kids (and parents) believe that getting an athletic scholarship means you will get a free education. Intercollegiate athletic associations have established a maximum number of scholarships for each sport. This number varies by association (NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA). As an example, in NCAA D1 men's soccer, you are allowed to give out a limit of 9.9 scholarships for the entire team. Most teams carry an average of 29 players, so the coach is forced to give out partial scholarships to maximize the use of those 9.9 among more players.  Keep in mind that every team has athletes with no scholarship (walk-ons). The exception of this is the headcount sports in NCAA, all scholarships must be full. HeadCount sports are Football, Basketball (men and women), Tennis (women), Volleyball (women) and Gymnastics (women). 

Definite candidates for full rides are those athletes who are considered “game-changers”. As freshmen, they will be able to make a significant difference on the team. These athletes have already proven themselves as being among the best in their state, country or internationally. Coaches know that if they do not offer them a full ride, someone else will. If you are one of those selective ones, good for you!


Myth # 2: Many Athletic Scholarships open up every year. Truth: No they don’t.

Here is a very simple equation: Number of Athletic scholarships =  Athletic scholarship Dollars of graduating seniors. If a coach has no seniors on its team with an athletic scholarship, he or she cannot bring in a new athlete on an athletic scholarship, unless of course, it takes away the scholarship of one the current athletes (see myth # 3). So when searching your future colleges, check the teams’ roster for class year. This will give you a good idea of those coaches recruiting needs and scholarship opportunities. 


Myth # 3: Athletic Scholarships are guaranteed for 4 years. Truth: They are a one year deal.

With the exception of major conferences (Power 5), the majority of athletic scholarships are guaranteed only for one year. They are renewed as long as the student-athlete fulfills the coach's expectation and has no academic or conduct issues. Coaches are no different than any company employee who has to fulfill a sales quota or other results.  If they underperform for a period of time, they could lose their job. The same happens with coaches. So if their team is not winning, coaches have to make decisions, and this may well be taking away scholarships to bring new athletes on the team. 


Myth #4: Athletic Scholarships cannot be combined with other types of financial aid. Truth: Work on your SAT/ACT.

For most universities, you are allowed to combine athletic scholarships with other financial aid or academic scholarships. Here is where good grades or test scores play a huge role. If the coach cannot make you a high offer, by adding an academic scholarship you may end up with a great financial package. That is exactly why college coaches love to recruit strong students vs borderliners, as they do not have to give out much of their athletic budget. The fact that you are a strong student also gives you an edge vs other athletes competing for one spot.  


Thomas E. Anderson

CEO & Founder

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