Luring talent

Athletics proposes scholarship pool to spur athlete recruitment process

The $2 million fundraising goal is intended to support Queen’s varsity teams with more athletic scholarship funding.
The $2 million fundraising goal is intended to support Queen’s varsity teams with more athletic scholarship funding.
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When student-athletes are choosing a collegiate program, schools are expected to raise the ante.

Queen’s new $2 million benchmark for athletic scholarship funding, part of the Queen’s Initiative Campaign, aims to do just that — equip its varsity teams with an enhanced approach to athlete recruitment.

Queen’s Athletics director Leslie Dal Cin said the fundraising benchmark is intended to support 12 varsity teams collectively for the next 20 years, with a $100,000 annual boost.

“A scholarship is an important factor in the decision-making for an athlete who’s choosing one school over another, all things being equal,” Dal Cin said. “It’s just a part of sports culture.”

From 2007 to 2011, Queen’s provided the equivalent of just fewer than 29 full athletic scholarships per year.

That average is low among CIS schools, but Dal Cin intends to raise that percentage point to help coaches build stronger programs.

“Good teams need good coaches and good athletes,” Dal Cin said. “That combination will get you great results.”

Coaches are directly involved in deciding which athletes get scholarships. Dal Cin said varsity coaches propose scholarship plans, request specific amounts of funding to allocate towards their players.

Athletes have to maintain a 2.7 GPA to qualify for a scholarship renewal in ensuing years.

“Coaches play the role of determining who qualified for scholarships — it’s the job of students to meet the academic requirements.”

Under OUA rules, athletic scholarships are limited to a $4,000 annual maximum per athlete. Prior to 2007, schools could provide no more than $3,500 a year, and only to athletes in second-year standing or above.

Also required by the OUA is that the difference in a school’s allocation of funds to male and female programs can be no greater than 10 per cent.

Only athletes on official varsity teams can receive Queen’s athletic scholarships. The football program creates its own separate scholarship awards based on self-generated revenue.

“Over time there’ve been generous benefactors who donate awards to football,” Dal Cin said. “They’re fortunate — very rich in legacy.”

Like football awards, Queen’s athletic scholarships are handed out sparingly. Much has to fall in place for the athlete who seeks financial aid.

As the chief revenue source, alumni donations are the starting point. Donors have the option of selecting a varsity program to fund directly.

“Generally, people want to donate in various ways,” Dal Cin said. “Some [donors] even want it to go to a certain individual, so they choose the award route.”

The need for increased athlete funding is crucial to less successful programs looking to improve.

The Queen’s men’s basketball team rebuilding under head coach Stephan Barrie, with just two wins last season.

“[Scholarships are] a major piece to the whole equation for us going forward,” Barrie said. “If we didn’t have the opportunity to give players money, we’d lose some current and future players for this program.”

Barrie said athletic scholarships are instrumental to attract top Canadian players tempted by American school offers.

Larger scholarships cover larger tuitions in the U.S., but Barrie indicated that Ontario’s $4,000 athletic scholarship cap is somewhat restrictive.

The rest of the CIS and the NCAA both allow schools to cover the full tuition costs of student athletes.

“Hopefully for OUA athletics, we’ll be able to offer more and also have the capability to offer more,” Barrie said.

“It’s a matter of growing the process in a way which can be sustained.”

Part three of the series will appear in issue 17 of the Journal.

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