Editorial: Football scholarships threaten Univ. integrity

The new proposal to allocate athletic merit based scholarships to Patriot League football programs has many on The Bucknellian staff worried about the direction of the University. First and foremost, we know it is not primarily the University’s decision to add these scholarships, and we understand that the impact will not necessarily have a huge impact on our school. With that said, we do worry about the image of our school if we add even more athletic scholarships than we already have.

This university aspires to be known as one of the most academically challenging and prestigious universities in the country—in fact, every Patriot League school does. The Patriot League was built for scholarly institutions, in the image of the Ivies, which begs the question: what is motivating this move to add scholarships?

Of course, as is the case with everything, we find the answer in capital. The better the football team, the more money a university (and the league that school is in) brings in.

In this endeavor, the Patriot League is clearly favoring money over what is truly important in a university setting: an education.

As President Bravman said in an email sent out to the faculty, “I believe … that there will be a decisive majority vote to permit football scholarships. Should the Presidents’ Council reach this conclusion, it likely will become unavoidable for Bucknell to add merit-aid scholarships in football.”

It seems at this point the fate of our school’s sports programs is undeniable. If we add three to five scholarships in football, we will be forced to add to other sports because of Title IX requirements. What’s more, that money will have to come out of academic based scholarships, decreasing the value put on academics at the University, ultimately decreasing the value of a Bucknell University degree.

More than just the material losses the University will suffer, it will also be overshadowed by its athletic program, and change the meaning of what it truly means to be a University student-athlete. Faculty and students alike have expressed their fear that what it means to be a student-athlete here will change—no longer will that person be a student, who also happens to play sports.

While there is no problem with a university who specializes in sports over academics, we simply don’t see this university as that place. We see this university as one that prides itself with work ethic both on the field and in the classroom, where a student can’t hide behind his or her athletic abilities.

We sincerely hope this new rule, if it gets passed, does not diminish the standards of the University. And, if negative impacts are seen, we hope the University will take steps to improve the status of the student-athlete on our campus.

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