|USC athletic director Pat Haden announced his school will offer four-year scholarships in football.|
USC announced Monday that it will begin offering four-year scholarships to all scholarship athletes in football and men's and women's basketball instead of one-year renewable scholarships.
Athletic director Pat Haden said the policy goes into effect July 1 for all current and future scholarship student-athletes in those sports. "In taking this action, USC hopes to help lead the effort to refocus on student-athlete welfare on and off the field," Haden said in a release.
Some schools already offer four-year scholarships in football, while Northwestern has offered four-year scholarships to all of its student-athletes (19 sports) since 2012. A few non-Big Ten schools began offering four-year scholarships in football in February.
One-year renewable scholarships are easy targets for NCAA critics. Coaches basically can run off players they don't think can help the team in the name of "roster management" with one-year scholarships; that will be vastly more difficult to happen with four-year scholarships. Still, the idea that four-year scholarships will cut down on the number of transfers is Pollyanna-ish: If a football player is told he is not going to get off the bench, chances are he will want to leave anyway, even if he is not forced out.
That USC is including women's basketball is an interesting move and one that is certain to garner good PR. USC used the term "revenue sports" in its release touting four-year scholarships, and very few schools would use that phrase when talking about women's basketball. In addition, the school is smart to announce the move to four-year scholarships. For whatever reason, most schools have not made a big deal of offering them.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.