Could college football walk-ons go away as a result of House vs. NCAA settlement?

Stetson Bennett It was one of the best college football stories ever. Whatever you think, “Rudy” is still one of the most popular sports movies. They were just walking, but those spots… they could go away.

In their place could be a world in which schools with a keen interest in certain sports could triple the number of players they award scholarships to: Mississippi State Baseball with 35 scholarship players Georgia is trying to return to the glory days of gymnastics by offering up to 25 scholarships and so on.

In theory, this could happen in the latest development in the college mathematical model. Here’s what will happen:

• Scholarship limits for sports, such as 85 soccer, will be eliminated.

• But they will be replaced by lower maximum limits for each sport. Like 85 football.

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This can be agreed upon As part of the settlement of House v. NCAA case, Which is expected to lead to revenue sharing with athletes. (If that happens, such a settlement could happen in the next two weeks.)

Or eliminating scholarship caps while roster caps are in place could happen independently of that. Either way, it would be a huge change.

For years, National Collegiate Athletic Association Scholarship caps are seen as a way to (attempt to) achieve parity between schools, with all FBS football programs adhering to the 85 cap, all men’s basketball programs being limited to 13 scholarships, baseball to 11.7, and so on. (You can see the full list, By sport and NCAA division here.)

The scholarship limits were partly about cutting costs, which is why they could be part of the House compromise.

“If there were more scholarships, more revenue would go to the athletes,” said Mette Winter, an attorney who specializes in college sports. “It’s not a direct cash payment, unlike revenue sharing, but the schools would like to get some credit as part of this settlement for adding these scholarships.”

But those scholarships will come in other sports if football’s cap stays at 85, which would spell the end of walk-ons. There are already limits in place in most sports, 120 is that number in football. So, for years, there was a clear dividing line — scholarships and direct coaching — in the major sports, and baseball, gymnastics and other sports had a more awkward ranking of partial scholarships: 35 baseball players, only 11.7 scholarships to distribute to the team. .


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Many details of the potential House settlement are still being worked out, so the transfer of the scholarship roster cap is not final. But here are the reasons to consider it:

• Cutting costs: Walk-ons still cost the program some money, whether it’s through travel or equipment, and at some schools, those players get paid by Alston. So, if the football roster is downsized, it means shifting some money to revenue sharing and other sports.

• Trying to avoid litigation: Since lawyers are already suing the NCAA over name, image and likeness; Transfers; And as everything else seems, the scholarship cap may be up for grabs. The roster cap would be more defensible because it was done for competitive reasons. (Or so the thinking goes).

• Teams exceed scholarship limits anyway: Non-scholarship players can receive next to nothing money to cover all their costs. Some football programs are straightforward Using NIL to exceed 85It’s easy to imagine some teams in non-revenue sports doing the same.


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Has the NIL made the 85 scholarship limit for college football scholarships obsolete?

The SEC has wanted to expand scholarship limits for some sports — such as baseball — for years. Two years ago, the NCAA Transformation Commission, with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, discussed scholarship caps for sports other than football and basketball. The idea was eventually dropped but has now returned to include all sports.

Naturally, the impact on football will be what gets the most attention. Football coaches, especially at the highest level, will be concerned. It’s a physical sport where players get hurt. There’s also a reason walks exist, and it’s not just about hoping to find the next Bennett: Kickers, punters and long snappers are often the ones who walk. The key will then be whether the list cap is higher than 85, and if so, by how much.

This might be a way to convince small programs to sign up: the less traffic large programs can have, the more influence they have over small programs. There are many stories of recruits who received offers from small programs but wanted to play for a larger program so they were willing to move on. Now, if they can’t, they’ll go to a smaller program.


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But there is a possibility that there are no maximum limits for the list. Let the market decide, or at least the schools: if Alabama He wants to spend 125 football scholarships in a given year, so be it. If Vanderbilt wants to pay for 35 scholarship players in baseball, more power to him Commodore. If you have the resources, the lack of a maximum scholarship allows you more independence and flexibility.

“This will allow schools to actually decide what sports they want to focus on,” Winter said.

However, since everyone – almost everyone – wants to focus on football, this will be the place to keep an eye on. Is there an absolute limit to the list set at 85? Is it expanded to 100? Is there no ceiling at all or no change at all?

We should know more soon.

(Stetson Bennett Image: Jeffrey Vest/Ikon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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