Liberty scholarships get more attractive

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Football teams usually like to have a
running back with a downhill style, but on the FCS level, all of the teams are
not moving along a level playing field.

The number of football scholarships offered vary up to the maximum of 63, and
some are partial scholarships and some are not. The Ivy and Pioneer leagues
are two conferences that don’t have scholarships but play scholarship
programs, and Georgetown even refuses to offer them while playing in a Patriot
League in which the other programs have them.

The next advantage has arrived, too. Liberty University reportedly will become
the first FCS program to provide “cost of attendance” dollars to their
student-athletes. FootballScoop.com said the Big South Conference university,
located in Lynchburg, Virginia, has begun to inform them the decision will be
implemented this year.

Under the NCAA measure approved in January and set to begin Aug. 1, the cost
of attendance of a scholarship will go beyond tuition, fees, books and room
and board to include expenses such as academic-related supplies,
transportation and other similar items. The value of those benefits can differ
by the school, but at the five power conferences that pushed for them – the
Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences – they
have been estimated up to about $2,000 annually per full scholarship.

The cost of attendance dollars are becoming an attractive recruiting tool,
especially for a program like Liberty, which would be an exception on the FCS
level because most schools are not expected to provide the incentive, at least
not initially.

It is not surprising, however, that Liberty would be looking more like an FBS
program. The private evangelical university, founded by the late Jerry
Falwell Sr., is pursuing a move up from the FCS level, although neither of the
FBS conferences that appear to be the best fit, Conference USA and the Sun
Belt, have yet to extend an invitation.

Liberty ranked first in the Big South and fifth in the FCS in attendance
average last season, drawing an average of 17,016 to six home games. The
Flames, under former Kansas and Buffalo head coach Turner Gill, who was
brought to Liberty to help guide it to the higher level, appeared in the FCS
playoffs for the first time, beating James Madison in the first round, and
finishing 9-5 as the Big South co-champ.