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‘I’m Not Sure Why the NCAA and the Coaches Are Keeping This a Secret’

A few weeks ago, when my colleague Jonah Newman and I reported on colleges’ reluctant adoption of multiyear athletic scholarships, we avoided going into detail about one concern that several critics raised.

“The bigger failure is not that the school isn’t adopting” multiyear aid, John Infante, a former compliance officer at Colorado State University, told us, “but that we’re not seeing this market develop where kids know there is the potential for multiyear scholarships and negotiating for that.”

Now there’s more evidence that students aren’t getting the message. As part of a separate report on the distribution of multiyear aid in big-time athletics, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviewed 30 people who could benefit from the longer scholarships, including recruits and coaches. Only 12 of them knew that the awards existed.

Six of the eight Penn State University football players interviewed didn’t know there were different types of scholarships, the newspaper found.

“I’m not sure,” a tight end, Brent Wilkerson, said. “I hope I’m on scholarship for four years.”

One high-school coach told the newspaper that he had never had a parent bring up the issue of multiyear aid. “I’m not sure why the NCAA and the coaches are keeping this a secret,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

It’s unlikely that colleges opposed to giving the longer guaranteed aid will start spreading the word about it. In fact, some compliance officials told us that their institutions have no intention of doing anything with multiyear scholarships unless a lot more athletic departments buy into the approach.

That leaves it to high-school coaches and people like Mr. Infante, who now works for Athnet, a company that provides tools to help recruits and parents better understand the market for scholarships.

As Allen Sack, a college-sports reformer and the interim dean for the college of business at the University of New Haven, told the Post-Gazette:

“Families and counselors and the people who work with young kids need to let them know that they have this right because many of them don’t know. If USC says, ‘nope it’s one year’—if I was mom and dad in that situation, I would say, ‘you’re not going to USC.’ There has to be a national movement and a lot of public awareness.”

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