Eckerd’s scholarship sports are part of the NCAA’s Division II. Division II schools rely on a “partial-scholarship model,” which means that the budgets are designed so that athletes will, in most cases, only receive some athletics-based financial aid for their expenses—making it very rare for a Division II athlete to receive a full athletic grant.
Student-athletes are instead expected to get financial assistance through academic scholarships, student loans, parental support or employment earnings, similar to non-athletic college students.
According to a survey conducted by The Current, only eight of the 32 athletes surveyed will receive at least $21,000 in athletic aid. Three of these were reported as athletic full-ride packages and two were reported as a full-ride package, consisting of a combination of athletic, academic and federal aid.
“Through the years, a limited number of full-rides have been awarded in our scholarshipped sports,” Athletic Director Tom Ryan said in an email.
All three student athletes that reported full-ride athletic scholarships were from women’s basketball and were also international recruits. International students are required to have an F-1 Visa or an Academic Student Visa. Sam Walker, a sophomore men’s golf player, said when you are on an F-1 Visa you are unable to have any jobs in the country the visa was acquired. International students are also ineligible to receive federal aid due to it being awarded by the U.S. government.
“I honestly have no idea about how to get scholarships other than athletic or academic ones just be- cause the coach does it all. Being international makes it different and harder. Also because I am international I can’t get federal work-study which makes it way harder for me as my family must help me with my expenses,” senior women’s basketball player from Spain, Eneritz Larranaga said.
The other two full-ride packages reported were from volleyball players. Sophomore volleyball player, Sydney Case said that because she got a high academic scholarship, her athletic scholarship had been decreased so only the amount of her fall and spring tuition was covered.
“Students that have athletic scholarships should be able to use the academic scholarship they’ve earned—if they’ve earned one—for Winter Term and summer courses instead of having it replace a portion of the given athletic scholarship,” Case said.
Results from the survey also showed that 15 student-athletes received less than $20,000 in athletic scholarship aid. Six of those are walk-ons receiving no athletic aid at all.
Some athletes, like senior women’s basketball player, Brooke Juday express concern with financial stability while in season.
“[We should receive a] small stipend during the season because athletes really can’t work during the season,” Juday said.
According to Ryan, each team’s scholarship allotment is based on the institutional athletic budget plan established by Eckerd around 18 years ago. Each sport has a scholarship goal equivalent to the median number of full-time equivalent scholarships for that particular sport in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC).
“Currently, we are focusing on getting baseball and softball to the median of the SSC and then finish the last two sports, tennis and golf (both men’s and women’s),” Ryan said in an email.
The partial-scholarship model is sometimes referred to as an “equivalency” system. That’s because schools in Division II are allowed to award athletics-based financial aid that is “equivalent” to a certain number of full grants in each sport.
For example, in soccer, schools are allowed to award up to nine “equivalencies” or full-rides, but the rosters in soccer are more than twice as large with the typical collegiate soccer roster having roughly 25 players.
Coaches and financial aid officers at Division II institutions decide how to allocate those equivalencies as partial scholarships between players. That means some student-athletes may receive more athletic-based aid than others, and some will not receive any at all. As a comparison, schools in the Division I are allotted more full-rides.
While Division II schools do not usually give out full-ride athletic scholarships to keep students focused on academics while cutting costs to sponsor a competitive collegiate athletics program, many student-athletes feel like there is an unrealistic expectation to achieve this without fair financial compensation.