Division I May Add Scholarship

By Staff

Coaching Management, 13.5, April 2005, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/cm/cm1305/bbscholarship.htm

Division I women’s volleyball programs may soon have an additional scholarship to offer. A proposal to add scholarships in several women’s sports—including volleyball, for which the total would be raised from 12 to 13—passed an initial vote by the Management Council in January and will most likely be referred to the Board of Directors in April. If approved, the 13th scholarship will be available beginning in the 2006-07 academic year.

The impetus behind the proposal was the NCAA’s introduction of the libero in 2002. With an additional position on team rosters, the Committee on Women’s Athletics recommended the increase. It was also noted in the rationale for the proposal that the number of volleyball athletes receiving grants-in-aid is at the maximum at most NCAA Division I schools. Therefore, an additional scholarship would not benefit only the wealthiest athletic departments.

Suzie Fritz, Head Coach at Kansas State University, supports the proposal because she believes it’s a win-win proposition for both Division I programs and their athletes. "I strongly believe that having the ability to financially reward another student-athlete is in our best interest," she says. "It would allow us to build more depth and more balance on our teams. The libero was an immensely important addition, and we are currently putting scholarship dollars into that position. With a 13th scholarship, those dollars won’t be taken away from another attacker or setter that we might want to recruit.

"From the perspective of wanting to provide as many opportunities as we can for young women to earn athletic and academic scholarships, I think it’s a wonderful thing," Fritz adds. "The more opportunities that we can provide for young women to go on and play sports and get their education, the better."

Opposition to the proposal has come mainly from Divisions II and III and junior colleges, where there is concern that the additional scholarship will lure quality players away from their programs. But according to Fritz, the decision of which environment provides the best fit for an individual still lies with the student-athlete herself.

"Someone who is a 13th-scholarship type of player may realize that she could choose a Division I program but perhaps never play at that institution, and therefore decide to accept a scholarship from a Division II program where she will be a starter," Fritz explains. "The choice will still belong to the athlete, but this would provide more opportunities for female student-athletes and that’s a real positive."

A 60-day comment period on the proposal, No. 2004-21, was recently completed and a second vote will be taken at Management Council meetings in April. If it passes, the proposal will be forwarded to the NCAA Board of Directors for final approval.

To view the complete proposal, go to www.ncaa.org, click on "search," enter "Proposal 2004-21" into the window, and select "LSDBi DI Legislative Proposal Report" from the search results.