|Recruiting Guide II: Scholarship Availability|
By Bill Allen, LaxPower.com|
It is very competitive to play lacrosse at the top college level, and players (and their parents) often underestimate this fact. For Division I schools, over 200,000 high school players compete for about 500 spots each year. A balanced men's college team will need between 10 and 15 new players every year, a figure that is even smaller for women's lacrosse. Consequently, coaches will need to look at 100-150 new players annually.
Many players and parents operate under the misconception that athletic scholarships are abundant. Less than half of the players Division I or Division II receive any athletic scholarship money at all, and most of those are not full rides. How the money is split depends on the coach and the positional needs of the program each year. There is no set formula. In Division III, scholarships are based only on academic merit and financial need, and no athletic scholarships are available.
The NCAA allows each Division I lacrosse program 12.6 scholarships for men and 12.0 for women. In Division II, there are 10.8 scholarships for men and 9.9 for women. At the moment, there are 59 Division I and 47 Division II programs that offer lacrosse scholarships for men. That's a total of 1,251 scholarships (assuming all were offered). There are 89 Division I and 71 Division II programs that offer scholarships for women, a total of 1,771. The numbers above may be reduced, as not all colleges are fully funded to the maximum number of scholarships allowed, so this is good information to ask about in the recruiting process.
As noted above, a full athletic scholarship is rare in lacrosse, especially for unproven recruits, and most scholarships are partial. The amount can increase or decrease each year and may also vary depending on a player performance. In NCAA Divisions I and II, athletic scholarships are NOT guaranteed for four years. Although it is rare for a scholarship not to be renewed, that can happen (for example, if a player breaks school rules). It's also possible that a coach may decide to give a scholarship to another player/recruit.
The NAIA does not yet include lacrosse as an official sport, but the number of NAIA schools playing lacrosse continues to increase, and scholarships are available but under different rules and limitations than the NCAA.
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) grants 20 full scholarships per college for both women and men. A full athletic scholarship includes tuition, room and board. Some junior colleges offer partial scholarships. There are 26 schools that offer lacrosse scholarships for men and over 20 for women. Each school can offer only 20 in total. Unlike the NCAA, they are not permitted to offer a larger number of scholarships at a lower percentage.
In a 2008 article entitled the Expectations Lose to Reality of Sports Scholarships, Griffin Palmer and Bill Pennington of The New York Times provide an analysis of previously undisclosed data from the NCAA and report on interviews with dozens of college officials regarding the scholarship divide in college sports.
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