Do Scholarship Limitations Effect College Football Parity?
According to the literature there is mixed opinion as to whether restrictions in scholarships really affects the parity in college football. Mainly because is it difficult to measure competitiveness between teams. In the quest to maintain amateurism in football and college sports, corruption, cheating, and violation of rules have appeared to be a problem since the early 1900s. It is this author’s opinion that it is not the question of amateurism that is should be under debate. Rather, the sanctions set by the NCAA.
There are probably many that would like to see college players earn a portion of the rent generated from their hard work and skill, however there are just as many that oppose this and prefer the athlete only receive the scholarship. What do the athletic institutions and schools want? Money. Although the institutions do care for the welfare of the student-athletes, the athletic department cannot survive without generating a profit.
Athletic institutions are opposed to the restrictions because they limit the team’s ability to recruit premium players. With more premium players teams can improve win-loss records, which will enhance fan support, therefore, increasing gate receipts, merchandize sales, media coverage, and enrollment numbers. Teams have gotten creative in improving facilities, coaching staff, and other amenities in order to entice premium players to sign with their school. This is especially important for teams that rely on walk-on players to supplement the team. This allows the team to lure top players because the player desires to play for a particular coach.
Do the restrictions hurt or hinder the weaker teams. If the weaker teams were provided the additional scholarships, they possibly could recruit more premium players to build the team. However, with such scrutiny by the NCAA on teams that begin to demonstrate an up-and-coming program, it is hard to believe the NCAA is attempting to prevent disparity among conferences.
With such a great pressure to win and develop powerhouse teams, schools violate recruiting rules, lower admission standards, and pump millions into the amenities surrounding a program. Restrictions do not appear to cause disparity because teams are able to funnel funds that would have been used on scholarships to escalating coaching salaries, new facilities, new luxury seats, or other incentives to draw premium players to the program.
Competitive balance among college football, and any sport, will always be an issues as long as winning and generating revenues are the main focus. True amateurs compete for the love of the sport and competitiveness, not for monetary gain. Although football players are considered amateurs, they are enticed by the best scholarship, facilities, and coaching staff. Athletes will attend the best school that will provide them a means for transcending to the professional ranks. As long as athletes seek this goal, and athletic institutions seek to make a profit, competitive balance will always be a problem as teams contend for the best player.
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