Money for athletic scholarships at Portland State has increased by 35 percent over the last five years, despite a well known apathy towards sports in the Park Blocks. In 2002-03, $2,085,079 was allocated to PSU’s athletic aid program. This season, PSU’s scholarship program offered a total of $2,817,541 to athletes.
Money for athletic scholarships at Portland State has increased by 35 percent over the last five years, despite a well known apathy towards sports in the Park Blocks.
In 2002-03, $2,085,079 was allocated to PSU’s athletic aid program. This season, PSU’s scholarship program offered a total of $2,817,541 to athletes.
While Portland State may ultimately build to the same point as its sister universities, they are exponentially wealthier than PSU, with almost two-and-a-half times the athletic aid for student athletes coming to their schools.
Oregon State University’s annual scholarship reserve ends up being around $6,763,188. At the University of Oregon, scholarship money totals $6,863,629. Both are at the NCAA maximum for offered scholarships.
Scholarship money comes from a combination of athletic funds, alumni donations and the school’s budget. PSU’s largest scholarships cover most basics for a student athlete including tuition, room and board, and money for fees and books. However, they don’t cover the total cost of attending the university.
For example, Portland State football and basketball players receive about 85 percent of their total costs.
The standard athletic aid agreement varies among sports at PSU, which are separated into head count sports and equivalency sports. Head count sports have more players and are given more money, depending on the number of athletes. These sports, which are of greater importance to the qualifications for Division I-AA, are football, men and women’s basketball, volleyball and women’s tennis.
The equivalency sports are softball, soccer, wrestling, track and men’s tennis. These sports are given a set amount of scholarship money, which is distributed among the players by the coaches.
PSU Associate Athletic Director Molly Moore deals with budgeting scholarship money for teams and athletes.
“The NCAA does allow institutions to provide up to the total cost of attendance to student-athletes,” she said. “However, we are not in a position where we can fund our teams in this manner.”
Chris Moore, assistant athletic director of compliance at Portland State, explained how the equivalency sport scholarships worked. For example, he said the softball team has money for nine or 10 scholarships but fields 18 players.
Coaches are in charge of determining whether they want to dole out the largest scholarships to the nine or 10 athletes or spread the money among all 18. So a coach can choose to give a smaller amount to a junior college transfer to save money for a larger grant to a high school ace.
“Some of our sports are not fully funded,” Moore said. “Just because the NCAA allows 12 scholarships like in softball, it does not mean we are able to give all of those scholarships. Most of our sports are under funded.”
Despite having a student population the size of most Division I-A universities, Portland State is stuck in the purgatory that is Division I-AA because it doesn’t have as much money for scholarships such as Division I-A universities as Oregon State and the University of Oregon.
The I-A and I-AA distinction is directly related to how many scholarships the school can offer its football team. To become a Division I-A-level school such as Oregon State and the University of Oregon, the schools must be able to give players up to 85 scholarships.
Division I-AA schools are only able to give out as many as 63 scholarships. PSU plays its football at the I-AA level, but all other sports compete as I-A programs. Portland State, depending on the year, gives around 60 scholarships to its football players.
The football team receives the most money from the athletic fund. Tallying almost half the entire budget, the football team’s $1,310,500 goes towards its scholarships for 90 or more athletes.
Adam Hayward, PSU’s prized outside linebacker, transferred from Colorado State, a Division I-A school, and has noticed a sizable difference in PSU’s maximum scholarship programs.
“I came from Colorado State where the price of living is a lot cheaper than out here, and we were getting a lot more money from there,” Hayward said. “Here, there are a lot of guys whose parents still have to pay for school, so really, it’s not a full ride.”
Since the football team has the most athletes, the players’ full scholarships only include 12 credits a term. On average, one football player receives the maximum $14,475 that goes towards paying for tuition, room and board and books.
All universities combine their estimated expenses (tuition, room and board and other fees) each year into a “determined cost of attendance.” PSU’s determined cost of attendance for a student taking 12 credits each term is around $17,000 for the year. Even athletes on the maximum scholarship will have to make up the rest of the money.
Athletes who participate in the other head count sports receive up to 16 credits a term. For example, the estimate of one basketball player’s aid can be around $15,339 with the determined cost being around $18,000.
Volleyball head coach Jeff Mozzochi said he doesn’t think that a comparison should be made between the two very different divisions of schools.
“Comparing PSU to OSU and UO is like comparing apples to oranges. Those are schools that look to recruit on a national level,” Mozzochi said. “In the Big Sky you need to recruit regionally.”
In the long run, the effect on PSU’s ability to draw in highly touted recruits may suffer because of the lack of fully paid scholarships.
“It’s hard to get big-name recruits when you don’t have as much to offer them,” Hayward said. “The successes that the team has, the more people are going to look at it. Places like USC are going to land bigger named recruits because they have a winning program but it also helps that they have money to give out.”
Playing catch upDespite a 35 percent increase in athletic scholarships over the past five years, Portland State is still $4 million behind sister schools University of Oregon and Oregon State University. PSU: $2,817,541 OSU: $6,763,188 UO: $6,863,629
The divisional differenceNCAA neophytes may be confused by the difference between Division I-A and I-AA. The I-AA rating only applies to football programs and limits scholarships to 63, instead of the 85 available to I-A programs. PSU was Division II until 1996, when the Vikings made the leap into Division I-AA football. All other programs at PSU compete at the Division I-A level.