The Maryland Terrapins athletic program dropped a bombshell on the sports world Tuesday as it announced The Maryland Way Guarantee,’ which will provide all incoming student-athletes with a multi-year scholarship guarantee. The University is also promising that, should a player exhaust their eligibility as a student-athlete, their financial aid agreements are still covered.
Beginning in November of 2014-15, ‘The Maryland Way Guarantee’ will provide all incoming student-athletes with a multi-year scholarship guarantee. Pursuant to this program, should a student-athlete exhaust his or her eligibility prior to graduating, Maryland will guarantee his or her aid will continue through graduation. If a student-athlete is injured and unable to compete, we will guarantee his or her aid will continue through graduation.
Maryland didn’t even stop there, as they also promised to provide tuition, books, and fees for any student-athlete who leaves the institution to complete his or her degree (provided they’re in good academic standing). This isn’t just between the so-called revenue sports, either; non-revenue sports are guaranteed under the new promise as well.
The previous one-year agreements are gone, and we’re seeing an even more robust variant of the old guaranteed scholarships pre-1970’s. It’s huge for Maryland to show off this type of commitment to their student-athletes in all sports, and this isn’t just some small deal. You can count the major programs that also offer this kind of comprehensive coverage on one hand (literally). The one-year renewal method that is pervasive throughout college athletics puts all risk on the student-athlete and little on the schools. What Maryland has done is installed some measure of accountability for both sides, and made certain that the ‘student’ part of ‘student-athlete’ is equally as important as simple athletic prowess or success.
No more revocation of scholarships because of injury or poor on-field or on-court performance. Maryland has officially put the pressure on every other university, because while this is a major recruiting tool for the school to offer, it’s more than that. If Maryland, a school whose athletic department has operated in the red for over a year and had to cut sports just to make ends meet, can afford to do this, it begs the question: why can’t yours? And that’s probably one of the debates that should be going on in college athletics nowadays.