When it comes to the way in which schools take care of the needs of their student-athletes, one of the arguments made in the past is that NCAA rules have prevented them from doing all they can. With the NCAA granting the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC autonomy during the summer, those schools had more leeway to do the things they felt necessary to ensure that scholarship athletes would get the things they needed to ensure that their experience would be a positive one.
A few schools have made strides, offering athletes four-year scholarships as opposed to the traditional “one-year renewable” scholarship, which would make it easier for a coach to rid themselves of a player who wasn’t as productive as expected. Some have also taken the step of guaranteeing that athletes who left school without their degree would get the financial help needed to finish up should they want to return.
Thursday afternoon South Carolina unveiled its “Gamecock Student-Athlete Promise: A Championship Experience,” which is designed to ensure that athletes are receiving full value from their scholarships in multiple areas.
“Intercollegiate athletics prepares our student-athletes for life after graduation,” South Carolina AD Ray Tanner said in the release. “We are committed to supporting them during their time at South Carolina. This document details the variety of commitments and services we provide to assist them in meeting their goals here.”
Through these new measures not only will athletes in “head-count sports” (which are football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s tennis, women’s gymnastics and women’s volleyball per NCAA designation) receive a four-year scholarship, but the grant-in-aid will also meet the full cost of attendance once the school is allowed to do that by the NCAA. A program for athletes returning to school to complete their degree has already been in place at South Carolina, and on Thursday the school also announced plans for supporting its athletes with regards to finding jobs once they leave school as well.
Hopefully more schools can take similar steps to help their athletes leave campus not just with memories of their times on the fields of play, but also with the tools needed to excel in areas outside of sports.