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Lafayette Trustees Vote to Award Athletic Scholarships

March 9, 2006

EASTON, Pa. ( - Lafayette trustees have unanimously approved a revised financial aid policy for student-athletes as part of a broader plan to strengthen the College's intercollegiate athletics program within the Patriot League and to support the College's overall academic mission.

Meeting in special session, the Lafayette board accepted the recommendations of Lafayette President Daniel H. Weiss and agreed to:

  • Offer merit-based athletic scholarships in men's and women's basketball beginning with the Class of 2010.

  • Offer merit-based athletic scholarships in strategically selected men's and women's sports beginning with the Class of 2011.

  • Establish annual goals for the enhancement of the academic profile of the entering class of student-athletes and each of the designated teams.

    While a significant departure from Lafayette's current program of providing only need-based aid to student-athletes, the new policy redistributes current financial aid dollars to certain sports without increasing existing allocations. Lafayette will continue its full slate of 23 NCAA Division I varsity athletic programs.

    In both men's and women's basketball the financial aid allocations for the current recruiting class are sufficient to support three full merit-based athletic scholarships. This money will be made available to the head men's and women's basketball coaches to provide three merit-based athletic scholarships for each team for the class entering in the fall of this year.

    Providing three men's and women's basketball full athletic scholarships in each year's entering class will continue for a four-year cycle until each team has 12 student-athletes on full scholarships.

    Merit-based athletic scholarships will be offered by coaches beginning in the fall of 2007 in the sports of men's soccer and women's field hockey. Coaches in these sports will have the ability to award athletic scholarship grants beyond need.

    Lafayette's scholarship program will provide maximum flexibility within established policy and budgetary constraints. "This program will allow the administration to make adjustments as the competitive environment changes from year to year," Weiss said. Oversight of the academic impact of the program will be shared between the administration and the faculty.

    The program establishes annual goals for enhancement of the academic profile of the entire entering class of student-athletes, a goal consistent with the overall academic mission of the College.

    Lafayette trustees chair Alan Griffith commended Weiss for undertaking "a thorough, thoughtful and exhaustive study of the athletic issue" and noted that "the trustees, faculty and administration have each given their strong support to the President to implement his recommendations."

    Weiss formed a working group of faculty, students, alumni and administrators in October 2005, after assuming the presidency in July. The working group concluded its assessment and study in February 2006, and made recommendations in four areas:

  • The academic standing of Lafayette students who participate in intercollegiate athletics.

  • Lafayette's competitiveness on the athletic field.

  • The sustainability of Lafayette's athletics budget and the amount of capital investment needed.

  • The strategic positioning of the Patriot League itself.

    "I am grateful for the serious and dedicated effort of every member of the working group," Weiss said. "They have been enormously productive and helpful to me and the College. They have assessed the challenges, and evaluated options in a process that reflects the representative thinking of our community."

    After accepting the working group's study, Weiss met numerous times with Lafayette faculty, including a closed information session to vet the issues, a meeting with the Faculty Academic Policy Committee, the Faculty Committee on Athletics, and the trustee committee on Athletics and Student Affairs.

    Lafayette Director of Athletics Bruce E. McCutcheon said the scholarship program "is designed to support the enrollment goals of the College, remain financially viable, and allow Lafayette to be more successful with enrolling high quality student-athletes, regardless of their demonstrated financial need."

    McCutcheon noted that each of the Patriot League institutions that have implemented athletic scholarships "have been able to enroll student-athletes who not only make significant contributions to each team, but exceed academic expectations and bring to the campus racial, geographic, and socio-economic diversity."

    Lafayette has been the only Patriot League member that has not awarded financial aid above need in any sport. The practice of awarding athletic scholarships is not limited to just basketball within the Patriot League. American University offers scholarships in nine different sports while Colgate University offers athletic scholarships in 11 different sports.

    "I believe it was very important to address and resolve a number of issues facing our athletics program," Weiss said. "I made this issue a high priority. The College has tremendous positive momentum and the entire Lafayette community can now be fully engaged in the broader strategic vision of academic excellence."

    Members of the working group included: Weiss; Susan L. Averett, professor of economics and business; James M. DeVault, associate professor of economics and business; James W. Dicker '85, vice president of development and College relations; Gary A. Evans '57, executive assistant to the President; Wendy L. Hill, Rappolt professor of psychology; David R. Johnson, associate provost; James F. Krivoski, dean of students and secretary to the Board of Trustees; Barry W. McCarty, dean of enrollment services; McCutcheon; Leslie F. Muhlfelder '81, vice president of human resources and general counsel; James P. Schaffer, director of engineering; Amy Beth Schwartz '06, biology major; Robert E. Sell '84, alumni association president; Helena Silverstein, associate professor of government and law; and Eric J. Ziolkowski, Dana professor of religious studies.