So What Is the New Definition of ‘Offer’?

116 offers for the class of 2022 were given out by Bryant University basketball the week of June 15th, according to verbalcommits.com

When you hear the word ‘offer’ when talking about college sports, there is a sense of exclusivity that surrounds the word. If you get ‘offered’ by a school, you have talents that are desirable to the coach and program extending the offer, which generally instills the highest sense of pride and accomplishment as an athlete. This pride comes from the years of hard work and dedication to your sport, and an offer is your golden ticket to the chocolate factory–Division 1 basketball. What if, as soon as you finally got your ticket, you found out there were 115 identical tickets, instead of just 5 others? Are you still supposed to be proud of your hard work, or do you just crumple up that ticket and ‘Kobe’ it into the trash can. 

This is pretty much the exact scenario occurring at  Bryant University basketball right now. Nearly 200 high school basketball players have been offered scholarships by Bryant University, according to verbalcommits.com, with 80 open offers for the class of 2021 and 116 for the class of 2022. The coaching staff likely understands that they won’t be able to add 196 players to their roster in the next two years, but there must be some strategy behind the mass offering. Before we get into why this makes sense for them, it is important to understand the complexity of what an “offer” really is and the different types. There are three main types of offers that NCAA Division 1 athletic programs can offer: full-ride, partial, and preferred walk-on. 

What is a full-ride scholarship?

Full-ride scholarships are only offered in six NCAA sports. These sports are football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, tennis, and volleyball. These are called head count sports, which essentially means 1 scholarship per 1 athlete, and the scholarship money can not be split up. So on an NCAA Division 1 basketball team, there are 13 full-ride scholarship players, and the rest of the roster is rounded out by walk-ons. A full-ride covers the main costs of attending college in terms of tuition, room and board, textbooks, and some other fees. Despite the “full-ride” terminology, this does not guarantee a scholarship for four years. While they are not guaranteed, full-ride scholarships are generally maintained through consistent grades, performance, and participation on a year-to-year basis for student-athletes. The bottom line is that if you are offered and accept a full-ride scholarship, you will likely be able to keep this scholarship throughout your college career so long as you remain eligible under NCAA rules and regulations. 

What is a partial scholarship? 

Partial scholarships come from equivalency sports, where the scholarship money is a “pool” divided up among players. There are no restrictions for how many scholarships can be awarded, and the amount per scholarship is given out at the coaches discretion. A partial scholarship can range in amount, anywhere from covering the cost of tuition, to barely paying for a semester’s-worth of textbooks, and while they are not as ideal as full-ride, partial scholarships provide non-revenue sport athletes with financial aid they may otherwise not receive. 

What is a preferred walk-on? 

A preferred walk-on is not a monetary offer, it is simply a guarantee that there will be a roster spot for you.  The coach is either unable to or unwilling to provide a scholarship to the player for their first year, but this does not rule out the potential for future scholarship opportunities. Although financial aid is not guaranteed, it is not uncommon for preferred walk-ons to eventually receive scholarships if their performance exceeds expectations. Some athletes will turn down scholarships at small schools to be a preferred walk on at bigger schools. A prime example of this is Baker Mayfield, who instead of taking a scholarship in a non power league, took his chances as a preferred walk-on at Texas Tech. A transfer and a couple years later, Mayfield was holding up the Heisman Trophy for the Oklahoma Sooners. 

What do Division 3 scholarships look like?

Division 3 schools cannot offer athletic scholarships like D1 schools can, leaving many people to believe that D3 athletics are simply too expensive. This is a common misconception, because nearly 75% of division 3 athletes receive some form of merit or need-based financial aid. The average financial aid received by a division 3 athlete ($17,000) is only slightly below the average scholarship for a division 1 athlete ($18,000). So, if you’re not receiving the D1 scholarships you want, it may be a better fit financially and otherwise to look into D3 sports. 

So what’s the point of all these ‘offers’?

It is difficult to try and understand how 196 open offers from Bryant University basketball stand to fill only 9 available roster spots over the next two years. The majority of the athletes that were offered the week of June 15th, were 2-star players, so it’s not like they were throwing out hundreds of offers to the ESPN Top 100. It seems as though the point of offering spots to so many players is to try and get as many good players as they can, obviously. They can’t control if a good player chooses to go somewhere else, but in the case that one of these players isn’t happy with their decision, Bryant is hoping they will remember the original offer. While they may not have the pedigree of a blue-bloods program like Duke and Kentucky, they can try to find strength in numbers by continuing to get their name out there with offer stunts like this one.


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