30 June 2008
In looking over the various Alabama message boards over the past 2 days, I've noticed a lot of talk about the Bryant Scholarship, and how the use of it might count against Bama's numbers crunch. So let's take a look at the Bryant Scholarship: First and foremost... what is it?
The Bryant Scholarship is a University of Alabama specific scholarship made available to all children of all men who either played for, or coached for, Bear Bryant. This scholarship is not an athletic scholarship, though it is available to athletes. That is an important distinction. Right now Kenny Stabler has a daughter on campus at Alabama, taking advantage of the Bryant Scholarship, and she is not a member of any Alabama sports team. Scott Deaton is the son of former Bama player Ken Deaton, and he also is on the Bryant Scholarship. Scott is currently a member of the University of Alabama football team.
The second question is... how does this affect athletes? By definition this scholarship is considered Institutional Aid by the NCAA. NCAA Bylaw 15.02.1states:
financial aid that is administered by an institution, if the institution, through its regular committee or other agency for the awarding of financial aid to students generally, makes the final determination of the student-athlete who is to receive the award and of its value.
What this means is that because the University of Alabama is the only school that the child of one of Coach Bryant's players/coaches can attend on the Bryant Scholarship, then it is considered to be an Institutional Aid Scholarship.
That leads to question #3... so how do Bryant Scholarship recipients on the football team count towards the magic number of 85? That depends. The folks at BamaMag.com did a great article about this a few years back, and I'll use their source, former UA Director of Compliance Chris King, as my source:
For a recruited walk-on, a student-athlete who was recruited by UA and who receives institutional financial aid granted without regard in any degree to athletics ability (i.e. the Bryant Scholarship), that student-athlete does not have to be counted until he engages in varsity intercollegiate competition. If the student-athlete does engage in varsity intercollegiate competition, the student-athlete becomes a counter.What that boils down to is that a recruited player, as Scott Deaton was, only counts towards the football scholarship numbers when he plays in a game. If he never plays in a game, regardless of practice participation, he never counts towards the scholarship numbers. If he ever plays, even 1 snap, then he counts. Because Scott has not played, he does not count against Bama's 85 limit. If a player is not recruited, he does not count, regardless of game action. Again going back to Chris King and the BamaMag.com article:
If it is a ‘non-recruited’ student-athlete that receives the Bryant Scholarship, the student-athlete would not count, regardless of intercollegiate competition.
The NCAA makes the final determination as to whether or not the player counts as recruited or non-recruited. In the case of Scott Deaton, who signed a letter of intent in 2005, the case is an easy one. For players who do not sign letters of intent, it can become more cloudy. And for those players there is a process that they go through with the University when they join the team.
Question #4... What about the limit of 25 initial counting scholarships? That one is much easier. If the Bryant Scholarship recipient plays during his 1st two years on campus, then he counts towards the recruiting class that he enrolled with. If he does not play during those 2 years, then he does not count as an initial scholarship - again, only counting towards the 85 when he plays, if he is classified as a recruited player.
Question #5... Is there a limit to the number of people, or specifically athletes that can enroll on the Bryant Scholarship in any one year? No. The scholarship is available to ALL former children, so there is no limit to the number that can be given. This has become a hot topic this season since Morgan Ogilvie, son of former Tide star Major Ogilvie plans to walk-on at Alabama as a Bryant Scholarship recipient. Morgan receiving the Bryant Scholarship does not prohibit any other incoming student or student athlete from receiving the Bryant Scholarship for the 2008 fall semester, or beyond.
Question #6... Can a player receive both the football scholarship and the Bryant Scholarship? No. Again to Chris King in the BamaMag.com article:
Currently, for a full scholarship football student-athlete, the student-athlete can't accept the Bryant Scholarship or he would be over his financial aid individual limit of a full scholarship.
The reason this has come up recently is due to the fact that Wesley Neighbors signed a letter of intent to play football at Alabama, he is the son of former Alabama player Wes Neighbors whose Freshman season was Coach Bryant's final season at Alabama, and the Tide could potentially have 27 incoming players ready to enroll for the fall semester. There have been countless questions regarding this situation and whether Wesley is eligible for the Bryant Scholarship, thus allowing the Tide to have 25 other incoming players. And the answer to all of those question is a resounding "yes".
Wesley meets the criteria. He is the son of a player of played under Coach Bryant. Therefore he is eligible for the scholarship. It is my understanding that this is the case with Wesley, and he will take advantage of the Bryant Scholarship.So there you have it... that's the skinny on the Bryant Scholarship and how it relates to not just this year's team, but all teams in the future. If you have not clicked through to the BamaMag.com article, you should. It is not premium content on their board, and there is a wealth of information available in it.