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USC to offer four-year scholarships in football, basketball

Jun 23, 2014, 2:49 PM EST

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USC announced on Monday that the athletic department will start offering four-year scholarships to members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams beginning on July 1st, 2014.

“In taking this action, USC hopes to help lead the effort to refocus on student-athlete welfare on and off the field,” AD Pat Haden said in a release.

Theoretically, guaranteed four-year scholarships are a good thing. Ensuring that a player can’t be left without school being paid for is a good thing, particularly on the football side of things. It also goes a long way towards emphasizing education and the idea that these kids are, in fact, student-athletes.

But in reality, it likely won’t have that much of an effect on how basketball teams operate. When it comes down to it, kids that didn’t cause problems on or off the court weren’t often getting their scholarships pulled in the first place. And even with a guaranteed four-year scholarship, if a coach says, ‘I need you to transfer because you won’t play here’, most kids will end up leaving the program because — surprise, surprise — they want to play.

If four-year guaranteed scholarships do happen to catch on, the biggest impact might end up being felt by late-spring signees. That’s when a program will start reaching to bring in a player that might not be good enough to play at that level. If a team in the Big 12 needs front court depth, they’ll sign a 6-foot-8 player that probably belongs in the Missouri Valley or the Southland simply because that player is 6-foot-8 and capable of running without tripping over his own feet.

But if, in two years, they need an open scholarship to land a top 100 recruit, it’s that 6-foot-8 mid-major recruit that will get run-off. If a player doesn’t want to transfer and the coach knows that he’ll have to guarantee four years to a player he’s reaching on, will he still be willing to offer that player in the first place?

Cynicism aside, the point here is that this is a step in the right direction for player rights.

Will other schools follow suit?