Scholarships not a guarantee for all athletes

One football player left the team when his scholarship was not extended.

Jake Grovum

Many student-athletes feel pressure to balance the time commitment of Division I athletics and the demands of going to college.

Without a scholarship, that only intensifies.

“It can’t realistically be done without the financial help,” former Gopher football player Brody Grandas said. “It’s tough to throw the burden of all that on your parents.”

A senior studying business management and communications, Grandas joined the team as a first-year without a scholarship and quit this season for financial reasons after his scholarship was not renewed. Grandas said he is 30 credits away from graduation.

After learning that his scholarship was not going to be renewed, he spoke to head football coach Tim Brewster. Brewster told him there were no scholarships available, Grandas said.

The football team currently has 81 scholarship athletes, Dan Wolter, University spokesman, said. The maximum scholarships allowed are 85 for football teams, according to NCAA rules.

“There’s not much you can say,” Grandas said. “(Brewster) said they only had so many scholarships to give and they awarded the three to the (walk-ons) he thought were most deserving.”

Before last season Grandas was awarded a “one-year renewable scholarship,” which was “based on performance” from former head football coach Glen Mason, Grandas said. He appeared in 10 to 15 plays per game last season and earned a letter.

He also appeared in the Gophers’ first game this season against Bowling Green, Grandas said. But after practice the following week he was told his scholarship would not be renewed.

Information about Grandas was erased from the Gopher sports Web site the same day he quit, he said.

“Football is a big part of your life, it’s how you identify yourself in some respect,” Grandas said. “Just to have it erased, you kind of have to find a different identity, which is difficult.”

There were others on the team who didn’t have their scholarships renewed, he said.

The football program withholds scholarships to ensure those who receive them are “deserving,” and a student-athlete “has to earn that scholarship, those things are not just given,” Brewster said.

“Mason always did a good job of rewarding hard work,” Grandas said. “I put three years into the program, and that’s more time consuming than you can even imagine.”

However, to not renew a scholarship due to on-field performance would be “professional suicide,” Brewster said.

Grandas was looked at as a walk-on by the new staff, Brewster said, so it was not an issue of renewal.

“If he would have done something significant to warrant getting another year on a scholarship from us, we would’ve given it to him,” he said, addressing Grandas’ situation.

Grandas said when he spoke with Brewster, the coach told him he’d love to continue to have him on the team, but with finances, if it wasn’t a realistic option then he wished him the best.

With athletic scholarships, student-athletes find an avenue to help pay for tuition, Brewster said.

“For a lot of kids, it means an opportunity to go get a college education,” he said. “A lot of kids who are playing college football maybe wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

Desi Steib, business and marketing senior and Gopher defensive back, was recruited and given a scholarship immediately.

“If it wasn’t for my scholarship, I probably wouldn’t attend college,” he said. “I feel it’s definitely a benefit for athletes to get scholarships.”

Impact on Recruiting

Zach Johnson, publisher of Gopherillustrated.com, an affiliate of recruiting Web site Rivals.com, said scholarship concerns like this are a “nonissue.”

“You came in with the hand you were dealt,” he said. “Brewster’s doing everything he can to try to improve the roster; who can blame him?”

There is an “unwritten rule” that if a student-athlete is recruited and given a scholarship immediately, it is typically guaranteed for his or her entire time spent with the team, Johnson said.

It is not uncommon for a walk-on student-athlete who earns a scholarship to have it taken away, Johnson said.

Since it is common, Johnson said this should not affect Brewster’s recruiting efforts.

“I wouldn’t throw any red flags up over something like that,” he said. “This happens all over college football.”

Brewster was billed as a top recruiter when the athletics department officials hired him, and he has made it a point to keep in-state talent in Minnesota. To this end, he has his sights set on Cretin-Derham Hall senior wide receiver Michael Floyd.

The top recruit from Minnesota and the No. 8 wide receiver in the nation, according to Rivals.com, Floyd said the choice is Brewster’s to “do what he feels is best for the team,” although he disagrees with him in Grandas’ case.

“I think he should’ve got his scholarship renewed,” Floyd said. “Just because he’s been on the team and also contributed to the team and was playing, that would be the best thing to do.”

However, college football is an arena where programs try to find the “best of the best,” Floyd said, and Grandas’ situation would not impact his decision on where to play football next season.