College baseball is one of the more competitive sports in NCAA athletics. Programs and coaches invest a wealth of resources to procure the best talent to make a run at the College World Series. Similarly, there are many scholarship opportunities at the Division I level. Players have a variety of resources and options. Oregon State, Arizona State, Louisiana State and Southern California have all won multiple NCAA championships and take full advantage of scholarship rules and regulations.
Scholarship Information and History
All NCAA scholarships, for baseball and all other sports, are awarded on a yearly basis and are one-year renewable offers. This is a common misconception, as the majority of the public believes scholarships are good for the student-athlete's four-year career. Scholarships cannot be canceled for non-performance on the athletic field, but they can be taken away for lack of performance in the classroom or violation of team policies. Baseball scholarships can cover tuition, fees, books and room and board only. The first NCAA baseball championship was contested in 1947, and athletic scholarships were slowly phased into the game. In 1979, with the passing of Title IX -- landmark educational reform designed to promote gender equity in sports -- more stringent scholarship benchmarks were established.
The NCAA limits baseball teams to 11.78 scholarships because of Title IX, a federal legislation passed to promote gender-equity in all scholastic endeavors. This results in a full-ride scholarship -- a scholarship that covers tuition, books, fees and room and board -- being very rare. Partial scholarships, even for top players, are much more common. Elite baseball athletes are brought in on 75-, 50- or even 25-percent scholarships. Academics are very important to baseball programs as the NCAA strives for proper balance with the "student-athlete" performing in the classroom and on the field.
With 287 schools that offer competitive baseball programs at the Division I level as of 2011, and an average roster size of more than 30 players, there are more than 4,000 competitive opportunities available to play NCAA baseball. However, with the number of scholarships limited, the chances of landing a full ride are slim. This results in competition for scholarships. Major League Baseball draft prospects will be considered for total scholarship packages. All other players must contact the coach and negotiate the appropriate deal. However, players can be drafted into Major League Baseball as high school seniors, as well as after the third year of post-secondary education. This will result in players leaving school early, and some that never attend school to begin with, opening up some of those coveted high-percentage scholarships.
With scholarships limited, and great competition for those scholarships, the importance of academics cannot be overstated. Many baseball coaches will first look to give money from the school's academic budget before tapping into athletic department resources. This improves the package for the player with better grades -- typically a 3.5 high school grade point average or higher -- because a significant portion of financial aid will come from academics. The rest will be made up through a baseball scholarship.
- Photo Credit baseball image by Tomasz Plawski from Fotolia.com
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