Creating better scholarships biggest challenge for recruitment

TRU's athletic director believes the current USPORTS scholarship model is worth revisiting

Athletic director Curtis Atkinson believes the university, and to a greater extent USPORTS, should relook at scholarship policies. (TRU Athletics)

Scholarships are key to attracting quality athletes from all over the world, the challenge is on how to create more funding, something which is complicated by the fact USPORTS doesn’t allow programs to offer full scholarships.

Scholarships have become a major a part of the lives of student-athletes. In America, universities are permitted to give students a ‘full-ride,” basically an all-expenses paid four year education in university, a luxury which unfortunately isn’t available in Canada.

Most Canadian universities offer partial scholarships to student-athletes.

The biggest challenges in relation to scholarships is creating more funding and attracting more donors so that there is enough money to offer better opportunities to student-athletes.

So, the question you may be asking is why would it be so important to get more funding? What difference will it make?

It’s simple, the more funding a program receives, the more scholarships a program can offer and it can lead to universities offering better scholarships.

There is a reason why the NCAA, warts and all, is more profitable than USPORTS schools. That is down largely to the fact they have more money invested in college sports.

Offering better scholarships means the best athletes will be more willing to stay in Canada instead of heading to the States.

“A robust and effective scholarship model is a critical ingredient in building a successful athletic program in Canada,” said TRU athletic director Curtis Atkinson.

“We have strong support from our institution and run some well-established fundraisers to raise money for athletic scholarships, but we are always in need of more funds to support student-athletes,” he concluded.

Atkinson also stated that the limits placed on the type of scholarships given out depend largely on what USPORTS deems acceptable.

“All USPORTS schools in the country are governed by USPORTS athletic financial awards policies that specify the eligibility requirements and maximum number of scholarships available for each sport,” he said.

Atkinson remarked that he believes that the USPORTS policies on scholarships are worth revisiting and that a model should be created that allows USPORTS programs to give out full scholarships.

Atkinson also presented an example of instances when USPORTS allowed certain sports to give out full scholarships.

“In recent years, USPORTS did a pilot project in women’s hockey that allowed members to offer full-rides (which included tuition, fees and room and board costs) and I believe this was effective at keeping some of the best women’s hockey players in Canada. I would like to see this expanded to other sports in the future,” he said.

Such examples create hope that something could possibly change down the road that could help take the USPORTS to the next level. Atkinson was also very eager to emphasize the importance scholarship funding to TRU.

“Funding student athlete scholarships is a priority for the WolfPack. We need to do an effective job in this area to continue to have a successful program,” Atkinson said.

“Our annual Sports Task Force Golf Tournament and Scholarship Breakfast are major fundraisers for this cause and we will continue to look for ways to fund athletic scholarships at a high level,” he added.

Creating more scholarship opportunities for student-athletes will be key for TRU to become a major program in the country.

A big part of the problem is the limitations with which USPORTS places on programs, such limitations don’t allow programs to attract the best athletes.

Until those issues are all addressed creating scholarship opportunities will continue being a major challenge.