Football scholarships postponed by council

By Erin Kircher

Contributing Writer

This past December, the Patriot League Council of Presidents deferred their decision regarding football financial aid to two years from now. While the schools included in the Patriot League are allowed to offer athletic merit aid to the League’s 22 other sports, football remains need-limited.

The Council of Presidents expressed their concern for the best interest of the Patriot League in a joint statement: “We had discussions about various financial aid models and recognized and evaluated the benefits as well as the potential costs associated with athletic merit aid for football. League presidents expressed their commitment to the stability and long-term positioning of the League.”

University Director of Athletics and Recreation John Hardt said that the University has taken many steps to discuss the impact of the Patriot League switching to merit scholarships in the future, despite the two-year setback.

During this past semester alone, the University hosted a number of open fora for the campus community and engaged members of the faculty, students and staff as well as alumni in an open and transparent discussion of the issues surrounding the potential of awarding football scholarships,” Hardt said. “As a result of these robust discussions, I felt that John Bravman was well prepared to contribute in the a decision that would best support the future of a strong Patriot League and, more importantly, support Bucknell’s best interests.”

Full Patriot League members who sponsor football include our own University, Colgate University, College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College and Lehigh University. Fordham University and Georgetown University are only associate members, but they still compete in Patriot League football.

Fordham was recently moved to an associate member position because the university decided to award scholarships to its entering football class in the fall of 2010. This resulted in ineligibility for the Patriot League title. The Patriot League Council of Presidents’ postponement of a decision for two years means that Fordham will not get the chance to compete for the Patriot League title for at least another two years, if ever.

Paul Brazinski ’11, a University football player, supports expanding merit scholarships to the football program. “This move to scholarships would interest a lot of teams to join the prestigious automatic-bid Patriot League,” Brazinski said.

Branzinksi also pointed out that the University’s basketball program has strengthened since providing its players with athletic scholarships, and football scholarships could lead to a similar outcome. “Football is a flagship sport. People want to see big-time football, and I say let Bucknell have theirs,” he said.

“The non-decision is a cop out. They are trying to buy more time. It is a hard decision to make with a lot of money on the line,” football player Alex Iwaskiw ’11 said. Despite his support for adding merit scholarship to football, “the Patriot League will not move to scholarships,” he said.

When asked about his opinion on the Patriot League deferment, Tyler Anderson’11, another player for the team, stressed the importance of scholarships for bringing in more competitive players. “Without scholarships it is really difficult to bring in the type of players you need to win a national championship. Going deep into the playoffs and playing big time schools brings attention to the school and helps put our school on the map,” Anderson said.

“It’s clear that this issue is hugely important to the League’s future viability and will remain ‘on the front burner’ for the League until it is resolved,” Hardt said.

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