sports scholarships As elitism?

Scholarships for students playing traditionally “white” sports could be another way for elites to dominate American universities, a September 21 article in The Economist asserts. A column dealing with Dan Golden’s The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates claims preps wheedle their way into universities unfairly through legacy programs and “sporting prowess.” The piece also gives an unflattering mention of UVA’s athletic scholarships.
    “Most people think of black football and basketball stars when they hear about ‘sports scholarships,’” the columnist known as Lexington writes. “But there are also sports scholarships for rich white students who play preppie sports such as fencing, squash, sailing, riding, golf and, of course, lacrosse. The University of Virginia even has scholarships for polo players, relatively few of whom come from the inner cities.”
    UVA does have polo scholarships, but they’re not funded through the Athletic Department. The privately funded Nicoll scholarship was set up in 1975, and provides assistance to about four “needy” polo players per year.
    But the Athletic Department does fund other “elite” sports. The golf program awarded $133,402 to 12 men and $176,339 to six women last year. Tennis provided $139,027.41 to nine men and $201,351.63 to eight women. And, lacrosse scholarships totaled $340,698 to 38 men and $307,013.01 to 23 women last year. All these are NCAA-deemed equivalency sports, which means full scholarships can be divided among several students into partial scholarships. By contrast, the football team awarded $2.6 million in full scholarships to 83 players last year.
    Other prep sports, it seems, are getting the shaft. No squash, sailing, men’s rowing or equestrian scholarships are provided through the athletic department, and there’s no flow for the fencing, skiing or rifle teams, either. Those programs are supported by funds from UVA’s Student Council and member dues.—Meg McEvoy

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