So this is how you get into the Ivy League. Be a smart student athlete!
The financial-aid enhancements have had a profound effect on the quality of athletic recruits. Rosters are now fortified with top athletes who would have turned down the Ivy League in the past because they would have been asked to pay $20,000 to $30,000 per year more than at other colleges.
“We’re seeing a significant change in the caliber of the student-athlete,” said Steve Bilsky, the University of Pennsylvania’s athletic director, one of more than 50 Ivy League administrators and coaches interviewed. “It’s not even the same population because the pool has widened. We see a considerable number of student-athletes turning down athletic scholarships from places like Stanford, Northwestern or Duke to come to Penn.”
Andy Noel, Cornell’s athletic director, said: “Eighty percent of our best recruits in the current freshman class would not have come here 10 years ago because we couldn’t match other schools’ offers. The impact has been enormous. And will continue to be.”
A recruited Ivy League athlete must have the academic credentials to survive the stringent and highly selective admissions process at each institution. Coaches have little sway in the admissions process, although they do provide a list of potential athletes to admissions officials. Across the league, about 13 percent of each university’s incoming class is composed of athletes chosen from coaches’ lists.
But the new, plentiful financial aid awards have permitted Ivy League coaches to compete head-to-head in the same recruiting arena as some big-time scholarship programs. And in sports like baseball, soccer, wrestling or lacrosse, where most athletic scholarships are split into partial scholarships worth a half or a quarter of the cost to attend, it is not uncommon for an Ivy League financial aid package to be superior to the athletic scholarship.