January 9, 2008

Explaining the Bryant Scholarship

With a month to go before National Signing Day, many recruiting fans are anxious to learn more about various different aspects of recruiting and athletic scholarships. One issue that often leads to plenty of confusion for Crimson Tide fans is the Bryant Scholarship, a special scholarship available to the children of those who played or coached for legendary Tide head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

But how does the scholarship work and how does it affect the scholarship numbers on the football team if a player attends UA on the Bryant Scholarship?

According to the UA Athletic Department, the Bryant Scholarship is not considered a sports scholarship since the criteria of the scholarship are not based on athletics. It is awarded to any student (athlete or non-athlete, male or female) whose father played or coached for Coach Bryant.

Under NCAA regulations, the Bryant Scholarship technically qualifies as Institutional Financial Aid under NCAA Bylaw 15.02.1, which defines "financial aid that is administered by an institution, if the institution, through its regular committee or other agency for the awarding of financial aid to students generally, makes the final determination of the student-athlete who is to receive the award and of its value."

For those who don't speak NCAA, that means that since the Bryant Scholarship can only be used by students to pay for their education at Alabama and no other school, it's considered institutional aid.

If a football player has already received a full athletic scholarship, he cannot accept the Bryant Scholarship since it would put him over the financial aid limit for an individual student.

The biggest question many fans have regarding the Bryant Scholarship is whether or not a player attending UA on the Bryant Scholarship counts against Alabama's scholarship limitations. The answer comes down to one factor: was the player recruited by Alabama's coaches?

According to UA, if the player in question is a walk-on football player who was not recruited by UA's coaches, that player will never count against Alabama's scholarship numbers, even if he plays in every game for all four years.

If the player was a recruited walk-on, a student-athlete who was recruited by Alabama's coaches and who receives the Bryant Scholarship, that player does not count against Alabama's scholarship numbers until he sees playing time.

The NCAA makes the determination of whether or not a player should be considered "recruited", and each individual player is judged on a case-by-case basis.

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