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For many student-athletes and their families, earning an athletic scholarship to compete at the college level is a longtime goal and a tremendous accomplishment. However, with COVID-19 impacting college and sports-program budgets across the country, many student-athletes are looking to find out how this will affect athletic scholarships. There are many variables at play, but the short answer is that we must wait and see as the school year progresses to truly understand COVID-19’s impact on athletic scholarships. However, there are certain things we can look at now to help us make an educated prediction.
Overall, it is likely that there will be fewer athletic scholarships available going forward as athletic programs are eliminated and schools cut athletic budgets. However, there is also data that suggests there may be less competition for the remaining athletic scholarships. Student-athletes and families can put themselves in the best position for securing an athletic scholarship if they remain committed, put in the time and effort and utilize the recruiting tools and services that NCSA offers. Here are some additional tips:
In late July, NCSA surveyed 382 college coaches across various sports at the D1, D2, D3, NAIA and junior college levels to gauge the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on college sports recruiting. College coaches are not administrators and do not have control of the athletic and scholarship budgets at their college, but they do have insights into what is happening with their team. According to the survey results, 16% of college coaches expect losing a few scholarships and 4% expect to lose the majority of scholarships for their program. Simply put, most college coaches expect to retain their scholarships, but about 20% of college coaches surveyed think that there will be fewer available scholarships in the near future, even if the impact isn’t huge.
If there is in fact a significant decrease in available athletic scholarships, the likeliest causes are cuts to athletic budgets and the elimination of college teams. There have been numerous college sports cancelations, ranging from season postponements to sports team cuts. More than 300 sports programs across the NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA have been cut, dropped, or suspended. With fewer college teams there will be fewer athletic scholarships available at the college level, though some sports will be impacted more than others. According to the list provided by Mat Talk Online, some of the most-commonly cut sports include tennis, golf, soccer and cross country. Student-athletes in these sports may have to prepare for the decreased chances of securing an athletic scholarship and should consider different types of offers if they are presented with an opportunity.
While budget and team cuts at the college level are not a good sign for student-athletes who want to compete in college, there are also other factors that may contribute to the availability of athletic scholarships. First, many high school athletes missed some recruiting opportunities in 2020 as their season and events such as camps and tournaments were limited or canceled. This is especially true for states where high school associations have canceled all competition and low-income families that do not have the option to continue their season with a club team.
Additionally, data provided in October 2020 by the National Student Clearinghouse research center shows that there has been a 16.1% decrease in fall 2020 undergraduate enrollment for first-year students compared to one year earlier. Overall, while there may be fewer athletic scholarships available, there may also be fewer athletes pursuing sports at the college level in the next few years.
Currently, there is not a lot of available data about how COVID-19 has impacted athletic scholarships, but more data will hopefully be available as the current school year progresses and colleges and coaches share more information. Make sure to check back here for important updates. If you have any questions about COVID-19 scholarships and your path-to-college recruiting, please email [email protected].