Blog: Wisconsin Explains Vote Against Multiyear Scholarships
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — I spoke with Justin Doherty, associate athletic director at Wisconsin, yesterday for a story I am working on about the multiyear football scholarships.
The story will include perspective from Ohio State, a school that voted in favor of the optional multiyear scholarships, along with Wisconsin, the lone Big Ten team that voted to override the new policy.
For those who don’t know, this was the first year where schools were permitted to offer student-athletes a multiyear scholarship rather than the traditional one-year renewable scholarships that have been in place since 1973.
The University of Wisconsin, which did hand out multiyear scholarships to recruits on National Signing Day on Feb. 1, was one of 205 institutions that voted in favor of overriding the new policy.
That attempted override of the provision failed by two votes last week, as they needed 207 of the 330 schools in order to reach the 62.5 percent needed for the override.
I asked Doherty why Wisconsin felt the need to vote against the multiyear scholarships, especially having given them to kids in the class of 2012. He said their perspective was that it wouldn't change the way they already handle scholarships at Wisconsin, where they do not haphazardly pull scholarships from kids after one year.
“If it's not broke, don't fix it,” Doherty said.
“The one-year renewable scholarships have worked for decades, and our mentality is why change something that works so well for both parties.”
With the override failing, schools now have option to give multiyear scholarships or continue using the one-year renewable ones. Doherty said Wisconsin will leave it up to the coaches, but allowing some schools to have multiyear scholarships almost forces everyone to do it, or else face the consequences.
Katie Smith, Director of Compliance at Wisconsin, called it a “competitive disadvantage” in recruiting if one school is offering a multiyear and the other is still using the one-year renewable version. It doesn’t change anything philosophically for a school like Wisconsin, but competing institutions could use it as a recruiting pitch.
Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue, the only three Big Ten programs that did not award multiyear scholarships in February, all voted against the override. So did the other schools in the Big Ten, including Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska.
The Big Ten's official vote also opposed the override, as did the Southeastern Conference. In fact, most of the SEC programs did vote in favor of the multiyear grants. That includes Florida, Georgia, Auburn and South Carolina.
Among those who did not support the multiyear scholarships, however, were Alabama, LSU and Tennessee.
The entire Big 12 Conference voted for the override, and against the multiyear scholarships, as did USC, Cal, Virginia Tech, Boise State, TCU, Cincinnati and Rutgers.
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