South Carolina broke new ground in the SEC on Thursday, announcing to the public and its athletes that it plans to guarantee four-year scholarships for Gamecock athletes. The move makes Carolina the first SEC program to guarantee its players a scholarship for four years. Under NCAA rules, institutions choose whether to offer scholarships on a year-by-year basis, which permits those schools to bring in a recruit and later pull support during his tenure at the university.
The Gamecocks hope this policy helps on the recruiting trail, as they can use this unique philosophy to bring in recruits that may be worried about the support provided by their college choice. While many schools choose to renew scholarships every year in order to keep a good reputation among potential players, this more-binding commitment may help sway players choosing between the Gamecocks and other schools.
The policy only applies to sports that offer full scholarships - football, men's basketball, women's basketball, women's tennis, and volleyball. Since other sports only offer partial scholarships - for example, baseball must spread 11.7 scholarships over 35 players - the university did not extend the commitment to them, but plans to craft a policy that gives an equivalent assurance in the near future.