Question: Negotiating A Scholarship Package? Thanks to the great info in your book, we are now talking to several coaches and planning visits. Your book was essential because our player didn't get any exposure last summer at the tourneys, and coaches are coming to see her now primarily due to her video and follow-up. My question is this: What is the S.O.P. regarding scholarship package negotiations. What do you get in writing? Are scholarships usually guaranteed for 4-5 years barring injury? What happens in the event of an injury that prevents play for a season? Is every detail spelled out in a written contract?
Answer: Negotiating A Scholarship Package?
All D-II or NAIA softball scholarships must be renewed on an annual basis. Some D-I scholarships may be guaranteed for more than one year, but that's rare in softball except for top players at top programs. And technically, a school can take a scholarship away at any time if the student athlete fails to keep her end of the bargain. That said, most coaches go into this with honorable intentions. If they offer your athlete a scholarship, you can expect it will be renewed every year unless the school cuts the program or the athlete has grade or behavioral issues.
But you need to understand the terms going into it. As for four years vs. five years, some schools can afford the extra year, some can't. Some will give her money towards the fifth year, but expect her to work in the Athletic Dept. or as a coaching assistant. It really does vary, and it is by no means a given. Many schools simply don't have a scholarship budget for a fifth year. As for injuries, this is a question you should ask each coach offering her any scholarship money---e.g., What if something happens and she can't play? Most schools will honor the scholarship and have her red-shirt that injury year if possible. But ask because, again, this may differ from school to school and they are not under any obligation one way or another.
Finally, none of this will necessarily be written down. Her National Letter of Intent will only reflect her scholarship money for one year and she'll renew at the end of her freshman, sophomore and junior years. Some schools will make formal (written) offers, but other than the NLI, nothing she signs or reads would be binding.
One final suggestion..... Don't approach this as a "negotiation." Most schools offer a player a given amount based on a) how much they have available and b) her perceived impact on the team. Since this can differ a lot from one type of program to the next, getting into comparisons or trying to "haggle" is extremely risky. At that point, many coaches will simply say, "Best of luck to you at the other school." Good luck with your athlete!