THE BLOG
12/24/2014 04:06 pm ET Updated Feb 23, 2015

The Real Truth About Collegiate Athletic Scholarships

Since the formation of the new power five conferences, there has been a stream of Division 1 schools announcing the guarantee of 4-year athletic scholarships for sports that give out so-called 'full or whole' scholarships. This essentially means that football, basketball and a handful of other sports will fall into this category. On the other hand, swimming scholarships are broken up into pieces to maximize the potential of the team and the number of participants at the NCAA Championship meet. Thus swim and diving scholarships would not fall into 'full scholarship' category. Essentially, not all scholarships are guaranteed.

Even when scholarships were guaranteed, would coaches still be looking for loopholes to get athletes off the team? There are always ways around an athlete losing a scholarship regardless if it is stated as being guaranteed. One example might be one in which an abusive coach makes the sports environment so unbearable that an athlete quits, just to be able to restore himself or herself to sanity.

There are silent injuries that aren't being recognized as injuries at all such as the harassment and abuse of a coach, or teammate for that matter, that leaves an athlete to suffer with no voice. The athlete often doesn't know what is really wrong other than they are in pain and become distant from teammates and sometimes take on behavior like drinking heavily to numb the pain.

The athlete is often tortured by the notion of having to decide between using the talent and skill that they have rightfully gained through hard work , continue with the pain and suffering of a sports program or end the pain through quitting. The continued pain can have life long effects and scarring. I can affirm that dilemma from my own personal experience. Then there is also the obvious question of the financial strain on the athlete's family if they choose to quit that may or may not allow them to continue their education.

A lot of schools offer many resources and services to the athletes for their wellbeing. Then one has to ask, how can an athlete that is promised everything, still suffer in silence? It's quite simple, a winning coach has the favor of the athletic department the alumni and the donors. A winning coach is the very reason that everyone in the athletic department has a nice job.

We can look back on how we got here and why the silent injuries are often overlooked. We can assess why the coaching staff is given a free pass frequently to assassinate the character of the athlete to save their own hides. When Athletes try to speak up or say something, threats and intimidation are often the general operating procedure for coaches. Also we must take into consideration, a winning coach is believed over the voice of a temporary or 'pass through' athlete. It will take an army of athletes to speak up over the power of the athletic department and the establishment to see any type of fair and equitable treatment of a young athlete.

Often when the coach snaps, the athlete is left to make a quick decision, or not really given a decision but rather forced in a direction that would require them to lose their scholarship. These quick decisions often don't allow for a parent or an attorney to be present to help the athlete through the problem. Such situations occur despite the fact that no athlete can sign an athletic scholarship without his or her parents consent, even if the athlete is married.

One has to ask, if the system is really fair if it doesn't acknowledge or understand abusive coaching styles and how that affects an athletes' performance? We need to also realize that all people are not created equal and some thrive in environments where others are harmed and scarred for life.

So one has to ask, if the NCAA requires that all parents check their child into the athletic department that they also should be allowed to be able to check them out. The requirement for parents checking their athlete into the athletic department is void of an age requirement, so the fact they are young adults should not be the argument. This is especially true when we have a legal system in this country that allows for everyone to have legal representation regardless of affordability.

We must hear our athletes voices, give rights to those with silent injuries, like abuse and harassment. We must be impeccable with our words during the recruiting process and not make promises that can't be kept.

In order for there to be a "4 year guaranteed scholarship system to truly work, the balance of power must change between the athlete and the coach and the athlete and the athletic department. Otherwise we are left with a system that is unfair and not all inclusive of the issues that would pull an athlete away from their sports environment.