Limiting the Jocks

The Patriot League, a college athletic conference made up of schools including American University, Bucknell, and Lafayette, as well as West Point and Annapolis, has decided its schools will not be offering football scholarships, at least not for the next two years.

According to an article by Brad Wilson in the (Easton, Pennsylvania) Express-Times:

In a decision announced Wednesday, college presidents put off, for two years, any decision as a league to award what they call “merit-based” financial aid for football — the only league sport not allowed to offer scholarships.

They did so “pending additional deliberations related to the league’s strategic direction,” league spokesman Matt Dougherty said. Lafayette College President Daniel H. Weiss, who opposes football scholarships because he says there are more pressing needs now, declined an interview request.

The Division One athletic conference allows schools to offer athletic scholarships for its other sports but gives only need-based aid to football players. The idea behind this is to keep the playing field, so to speak, relatively level. If they could offer scholarships to football players, so the thinking goes, greater-resourced schools could easily dominate the conference.

The league first allowed schools to offer athletic-based financial aid to basketball players back in 1996.

Patriot League colleges had been considering football scholarships for several years.

“These guys have no guts and offer no leadership,” Jack Bourger said of the college presidents. Bourger is the chairman of a local Lafayette College booster club.

Guts are one possibility. As far as Weiss is concerned, however, some of the schools may just not have enough money.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer