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Scholarships funneled to wrestling club from general admissions funds

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[box border=”full”]Mercer’s admissions office has been giving out scholarships to members of the school’s wrestling club for the past four years from a discretionary pool of funds traditionally set aside for merit and need-based financial aid, a Cluster investigation has revealed.[/box]

Admissions director Brian Dalton confirmed that incoming wrestlers receive a renewable “additional funding package” from the University each year, despite the fact that wrestling is not an officially recognized varsity NCAA team and is therefore ineligible to receive sports scholarships from the athletics department.

Dalton refused to release the total amount of scholarship money allocated to members of the wrestling club each year, but said it was a marginal investment given its usefulness as a recruitment tool.

“We’re not talking about a whole lot of money — a drop in the bucket, really — and wrestling has been a very popular and successful competitive club sport that has helped us enroll a diversity of students who might not attend Mercer otherwise . . . it’s been a plus for everyone,” Dalton said.

Under University policy, wrestling is one of six so-called “competitive” club sports funded by Mercer’s Board of Appropriations and overseen by the Office of Recreational Sports and Wellness.

Other competitive club sports include equestrian, cycling, table tennis and ultimate Frisbee. Wrestling is the only club sport to receive scholarships, Dalton said.

Wrestling coach Kevin Andres, who serves as the director of the Office of Recreational Sports and Wellness, would not comment specifically on why the wrestling program receives university-based scholarships except by pointing to the club’s winning track record and popularity.

“We’ve just had a very successful program with a seven-year history, and we’ve brought a lot of good publicity to the university,” Andres said.

Equestrian coach Carole Burrowbridge, who works in the Office of Disability Services, said Andres told her that the initial logic behind the wrestling club receiving university-based scholarships was to balance Mercer’s gender ratio by attracting more male students.

“My understanding from the coach is that it was a gender-dictated decision, since wrestling is typically a male sport. I’ve also felt it has been very hush-hush, and that not everyone in the university has been informed about it in the various departments,” Burrowbridge said.

Athletics director Jim Cole said he was not aware that the wrestling club received scholarships from the university.

“I haven’t been told anything about wrestling scholarships. I only deal with NCAA Division 1 athletics, though, and wrestling isn’t one of our sports,” Cole said.

Dalton said gender may have played a role in the university’s initial decision to provide scholarships to the wrestling team, but that he couldn’t say for certain since the policy was put in place before he came to Mercer in 2008.

The decision to renew scholarship policies is made by the Office of University Admissions each year.

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “Scholarships funneled to wrestling club from general admissions funds”

  1. J. Andrew Lockwood on March 31st, 2011 12:00 am

    Wrestling is a ‘club-level’ sport, thus they have a lot more leeway than say volleyball which falls under Mercer Athletics. Where’s the reporting on the money they brought into the university via the student athletes they’ve brought to Macon or perhaps the NCWA tournament just held in Macon which brought an approximate $1 million economic impact to the city of Macon?

    Finally, why is Burrowbridge commenting on a story that has nothing to do with wrestling? Any news from the Equestrian program has been ‘hush-hush’ this year. I’m sure if she wanted to take the initiative to build the Mercer program into a national power level program, she’d most assuredly get help from the Admissions people.

    The ‘sports’ scholarship we’re talking about here is really a coupon. The student athletes are still pouring money into Mercer (that otherwise wouldn’t come in). It makes perfect economic sense.

    I applaud Andres on his ability to build a nationally recognized program. It’s too bad that more isn’t reported on what all he’s doing.

    [Reply]

    Lizbibb Reply:

    Andrew,

    I normally try to abstain from comments on our website, but I feel that I do need to point out that it is mentioned in this story that the wrestling team brings in money (actually as a justification for the allotted funds. This isn’t a story about the wrestling team’s successes, but the author took great strides to get all sides of the story anyway.

    Also, you are the sports editor, correct? It seems to me that if you wish to have something published about the wrestling team’s success you are the one who is in a position to take initiative to do it. Trust me, it will run. We do not suppress articles at the Cluster.

    [Reply]

    J. Andrew Lockwood Reply:

    True that…and we’ll try to give them PR where possible…I just wish other organizations would take the same initiative (as wrestling has) to try and create an ‘aid-based’ program. Heck, if I had another year here, I might see what I could do for cycling.

    We’re creating wealth here, not having to share a piece of the pie. You are correct….sorry, he does mention that they bring in money….my apologies on that point.

    [Reply]

  2. Mcrosher050 on March 31st, 2011 2:09 am

    I wish the female wrestlers could get scholarships, shoot, we had 5 out of 7 girls become All-Americans, and I feel like that is a HUGE deal. Sure it’s less competitive, but maybe we’d be more motivated if we were paid to compete, too.

    [Reply]

    J. Andrew Lockwood Reply:

    Perhaps there’s scholarship money being used already for female wrestlers? I’m not sure, but couldn’t agree more. They finished 2nd nationally (a bit less competitive than the men’s side), but still, that’s a step in the right direction. Bring the female wrestlers!

    [Reply]

    Lynae Berry Reply:

    i was just about to tell you about this boo!! where is your cut??

    [Reply]

  3. News writing and reporting | Carl V. Lewis on May 20th, 2012 8:51 pm

    […] Scholarships funneled to wrestling club from general admissions funds, The Mercer Cluster, Mar. 30, 2012. […]

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Scholarships funneled to wrestling club from general admissions funds