Finally! New Policy Stops Treating Student Athletes Like Race Horses

September 16th 2014

Lindsay Haskell

The University of Maryland has made history by announcing its plan to provide lifetime scholarship guarantees to its student-athletes. Dubbed the 'Maryland Way Guarantee,' this new policy will grant all incoming student-athletes - even those in non-revenue sports - multi-year scholarships that cannot be revoked due to ineligibility to play because of an injury. As long as student-athletes do not violate any laws or school rules, their scholarship is safe.

This announcement is a huge departure from the more common one year renewable financial contract, which essentially allows a college to revoke a student-athlete’s scholarship at the end of one year if the coach sees fit. In fact, in 2013, only 16 out of the 82 Division I-A level universities offered more than 10 multi-year scholarships, with 34 offering none whatsoever.

The University of Maryland's decision could drastically change the way colleges view their student-athletes. Before, colleges invested in student-athletes based primarily on their athletic abilities, and once their skills stopped generating positive results (and presumably revenue), so did the money they were receiving. Also earlier this year, Northwestern University football players were granted the right to unionize after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the players were employees of the university. During the case, it was revealed that the players dedicated 40 to 50 hours per week to the team during the season and 20 to 30 hours per week during off-season. These numbers are tantamount to a full- and part-time job.

This lifetime scholarship guarantee could cause a major shift in college attitudes toward their student-athletes' value by underscoring the importance of their academic role instead of their financial profitability. 

Related:  Do you think college sports enrich academics?