Signing day for College Athletic Scholarships is huge, especially if it is one of the 15 or so top NCAA football programs in this country. The local and perhaps state media is all over these exciting football scholarships signing day events, jerseys are displayed in front of the athletes, parents, coaches and other players receiving sports scholarships are photographed. If the athlete has shown great promise during his high school football career, ESPN will be there. The whole day is a continuous whirlwind of activity from morning til night.
Pictures are snapped as athletes are seen picking up their pens and signing their letters of intent. Pretty heady stuff for the young men, and something that means they are one step closer to realizing their life long dream of playing football at the collegiate level.
It is an exciting and fun filled time for the athletes, their parents and friends, their high school coaches, and the entire local community. The local sports hero has signed with a big time university. The big fish in the little pond has made it to the big leagues.
On the plus side, the athlete, if he has received a full ride football scholarship, will have all his college expenses paid for if he agrees to play his sport for the college athletic program he has just signed with.
This is a definite boon to the high school athlete and his family.
They are all thrilled out of their minds. The local media hypes the situation to the max. Friends and distant family all get the news via email or Facebook. Everyone expects the local elite student athlete to be the star athlete for the big university sports program he or she has just signed with.
And, in truth, if everything works out like everyone hopes it will, the athlete will get to play his sport in college and he will also get a college education. With the economy being what it is today, a full ride college athletic scholarship may be the only way some families could afford to send their kid to college.
But, and this is the ugly side of college athletic scholarships, what if the athlete fails to maintain his grades in college? Or, what if he or she gets hurt? Or, what if a female athlete gets pregnant? Or, what if the athlete doesn't live up to athletic expectations?
According to the NCAA, many high school student athletes and their parents are not aware that their full ride athletic scholarship is awarded on a year-to-year basis. Yes, if everything goes right, the athlete will get to play four full years, and he or she will get a higher education.
But, what happens to all these wonderful plans if any number of things, some of which we've just mentioned, should happen? In many cases the scholarship will not be awarded for the next year.
In some cases, parents will be able to pay for the rest of the athletes college education, but in far too many cases there is just no money, and because the athlete has depended on the full ride athletic scholarship so heavily, no other financial aid, like academic scholarships have been applied for. This could prove devastating to both athletes and their families.
Unfortunately, this scenario is very common for football scholarships, and for other NCAA sanctioned sports as well. It happens all the time, and it is an important consideration that should be put on the table before any sports scholarships is accepted.
Parents and high school student athletes should consider all options before signing on the dotted line for a college sports scholarship. Read every line of the contract carefully, if you don't understand something, seek legal help.
If, after considering all options, they decide to go the way of full ride college athletic scholarships, they should, at the very least, have some sort of back up plan in place.
The primary objective of college athletic scholarships should be to get your college education paid for; the glamour and the excitement of playing sports while in college should be secondary.
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