Commentary

No scholarship change at UT

Texas has not run off players who haven't been in trouble

Updated: April 10, 2012, 10:44 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- Mack Brown has a contract with the University of Texas that extends through 2020.

The athletes that play for him and the university have contracts that do not extend beyond one academic year.

Given the opportunity to change that imbalance and allow athletes to have multiyear scholarships, Brown, even knowing other schools were making the change, firmly said no.

"We're doing it right now," Brown said.

[+] EnlargeNick Saban
AP Photo/Dave MartinOver-signing practices at schools like Alabama, led to reevaluation of the one-year scholarships.
Others, like Auburn and several Big Ten schools, were in favor of multi-year scholarships. That is why a measure to give schools the option to offer such scholarships passed last October, changing the landscape when it comes to scholarships for the first time since one-year scholarships were instituted in the early 70s.

But even since then there has been some consternation among the nation's college programs. In February a vote was taken by 330 Division I schools in an effort overturn the multi-year scholarship measure. It failed to garner the necessary 62.5 percent, instead getting 62.1 percent.

"I am pleased that student-athletes will continue to benefit from the ability of institutions to offer athletics aid for more than one year, but it's clear that there are significant portions of the membership with legitimate concerns," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a release at the time of the vote. "As we continue to examine implementation of the rule, we want to work with the membership to address those concerns."

Brown understands the new rule just fine. He also wants everyone to understand that Texas football is not going to change the way it conducts its business or hands out its scholarships.

"We don't cut kids off scholarships," he said.

The way Brown sees it, if Texas commits to a player and that player commits to Texas, both are in it for the long haul. In other words, that player must live up to his commitment to do what is in the best interest of Texas football for four years. If he does that, then he will never have to worry about his scholarship being renewed.

"We explain to the parents it is a one-year scholarship that's renewed every June," Brown said. "But if your son, if he has a felony or flunks out of school or doesn't try at all, he'll be gone for the first two (felony or flunking out) and the third one we're going to try to help you get us make him try. Other than that he'll have his scholarship."

It's about holding players accountable.

"A lot of the players we talk to said, 'What would keep somebody from not trying? If I've got a five-year deal and I'm third team," Brown said trying to answer his own question.

He is not alone in this line of thinking. The Big 12, as a conference, voted against the multiyear scholarship measure. It was the only conference to do so. But many of powerhouses in college football are taking the same stance as Texas such as Oklahoma, LSU, Texas A&M and Alabama.

The elephant in the room of this entire multiyear scholarship debate is that the impetus of the new rule was to protect athletes from being run off from programs that were habitual over-signers. The Crimson Tide, prior to new SEC restrictions, were so awash in the practice their tactics helped spawn a website, oversigning.com.

While Texas has definitely had issues with players leaving in the past -- 25 since the end of the 2005 season -- Brown has not run any players off that did not run afoul of the law or the university. Most of the other players who left with eligibility remaining, left of their own volition.

Still, the NCAA's stance remains that multiyear scholarships, while possibly flawed or at the least rife with issues, will better serve to protect the athlete.

"If we err, it will be on the side of students," Emmert told the Associated Press in January.

At Texas, at least as long as Brown is around, the only errors will be if every year the athlete does not live up to his end of the deal.

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation