Athletic scholarships a challenge for coaches at universities in Utah

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A full ride scholarship — no student-athlete at Dixie State University, no matter the sport, has one. 

A student-athlete’s eligibility in the NCAA takes into account “standardized test scores, the number of core courses taken in high school, and the grades earned in those core courses.” After those requirements are met for student-athletes at DSU, the decision on how to divide up each sport’s allotted scholarship amount amongst each team comes down to the head coach and his or her staff, said Jason Boothe, director intercollegiate of athletics.

“Each coach offers each student-athlete individually what he or she feels that student-athlete deserves,” Boothe said. “[It is] also based upon what they have available to them to offer.” 

The football team, for example, has been given 32 scholarships to work with, said Shay McClure, the team’s head coach. For many, they are getting their tuition waived, he said. Due to having little cash available for scholarships, the ability to waive tuition has been a great help for the school, McClure said. 

“The waiver system is great because as tuition goes up, the waivers match it,” McClure said. “It is not like I have to go raise more money for that.”   

As a student joins any athletic program, a letter of intent is signed to declare one’s commitment to that team and its university. Boothe said once the letter is signed, the signature is then valid for one year. 

This rule presents a challenge for many college coaches in the state of Utah due to students choosing to depart on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because the letter of intent lasts for one year, McClure said he not only has to juggle scholarships now but also ones that pertain in the future. 

“I don’t think it is a deterrent at all,” McClure said. “I don’t think it is a negative or a positive. You don’t recruit a young man because he is Catholic, or LDS, or Lutheran, or anything else. This isn’t a faith-based university.” 

Cameron Peacock, a sophomore biology major from West Jordan, was one of those Mormon missionaries who signed with DSU prior to his mission. 

He played one season for the Trailblazers before departing on his mission. After returning home, the football coaching staff had changed due to the resignation of then-head coach Scott Brumfield. Because Peacock was no longer on the team due to the letter of intent lasting only one year, he didn’t work through the process of resigning with the team and focused on his other priorities. 

“With a whole new coaching staff, it is different because you don’t recruit that guy,” Peacock said. “They think a lot of it. They put time into these kids that they recruit, so they want them to be successful. And when these other kids show up, they really don’t care, and they just let us sit by the wayside.”

McClure said his number one priority when he became the new coach was to take care of the current team he just inherited. Though some left, he said many stayed. 

McClure said he does everything he can that is within his ability to offer as enticing a scholarship as he can. Sometimes it includes additional things like books or fee waivers on top of tuition. There are just not the funds for full rides, he said.