Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Patriot League Scholarship Experiment

As I have mentioned previously on this page, the Patriot League was established with many of the same goals as the Ivy League. While not as prestigious or well-known as the Ivy League, Patriot schools, for many years, also shunned the idea of athletic scholarships in the name of admitting only true "student-athletes" who could compete in the classroom as well as the playing field. (I have added a link to the Patriot League site for anyone interested in looking at the history of the League's formation and their principles.)

However, while the Ivy League institutions were long associated with each other even before forming an official athletic conference, the Patriot League members are solely athletic rivals, and the conference itself does not even have static membership. Some members are only in it for football (Fordham, Georgetown), while others are in it for everything *except* football (Army, Navy.) Trying to follow Patriot League membership is like trying to keep track of J-Lo's marriages, with the League allowing "associate membership" for certain sports, while other members compete in the League for all sports. American was recently added to the League, while Towson left for the Atlantic 10. The rest of the membership includes Lafayette, Lehigh, Bucknell, Colgate, and Holy Cross.

I am not arguing that the Ivies should start giving scholarships...but the Patriot League is an interesting barometer by which to judge the possibility of postseason play for Ivy League football. Scholarships or no, the Patriot League has always allowed their teams to participate in the I-AA playoffs, and with some success, as well. (Colgate played for the I-AA championship in the 2003 season.) Here is a group of schools that is just as concerned with academic integrity as the Ivies, yet they do not engage in the same hypocrisy with regard to their football programs.

Even after allowing scholarships to their athletes, Patriot schools often find themselves outmatched by Ivy League squads. It stands to reason that the Ivies could be just as competitive, if not more so, than the Patriot schools in the football playoffs.

In the last few years, the Patriot League has decided to start giving scholarships for certain sports, and apparently, its working. Here is an interesting article to that effect:


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