Urban Meyer was asked during the Big Ten's spring football press conference a question seemingly non-sequitur at the time about multiyear scholarships. If you're unfamiliar with the subject, new NCAA governing regulations passed in February of 2012 removed restrictions that forced schools to only offer one-year renewable scholarships that many critics of the bylaws felt enabled institutions (Alabama, notably) to effectively "cut" players at years end to make room for larger incoming recruiting classes.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive had long been a proponent of the move to multiyear scholarships (whether on moral or competitive grounds, that remains to be seen), but almost immediately as soon as the restrictions were revoked, major football powers across the country began to move towards offering them to get that competitive advantage against those that don't, but that hasn't benefited student athletes outside of the so-called "money sports".
According to a new report from The Chronicle of Higher Education, nearly two-thirds of the 56 most powerful Division I public universities now offer multiyear scholarships, but few of those institutions do so for more than a handful of athletes. Urban Meyer addressed during his press conference that "he'd have to check on that" but believed Ohio State football was amongst those given the multiyear awards. And while that wouldn't necessarily mean that translates to all 36 of Ohio State's varsity sports, at least compared to some of the other major athletic institutions nationally, they seem to be doing better than most:
But even colleges that have moved toward the longer agreements have done so modestly. Six institutions signed at least two dozen multiyear agreements this academic year. They include the University of Florida (60), Ohio State University (47), North Carolina State University (40), Michigan State University (30), Arizona State University (27), and Auburn University (27).
While that only accounts for one-tenth of the scholarships across the board at the institution, it's certainly a start.
Unsurprisingly, the report also goes on to state that "at Ohio State, more than half of its 41 new offers of multiyear aid went to football and basketball players." Given 25 in the class of 2012, Amedeo Della Valle, and the five early enrollees for football in 2013, you have to wonder how many that really leaves.
While a move towards multi-year offers sounds like common sense to some, other ADs don't feel that way. From the article:
"Who gets a four-year, $120K deal guaranteed at age 17?" Christine A. Plonsky, women's athletic director at the University of Texas, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. "The last thing young people need right now is more entitlement."
Of course institutions like Ohio State can still find ways to create roster opportunities (be it through injuries convinced to the student athlete are beneficial to walk away with or giving certain underachievers situationally shorter ropes), but it should be interesting to see, particularly in lieu of the forthcoming O'Bannon v. EA Sports/NCAA litigation, whether that number increases and how rapidly.
Matt Brown contributed to this report.