By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor
Volunteer State Community College will no longer be awarding athletic scholarships, beginning in the fall of 2016. With the increasing cost and academic needs throughout campus, Vol State has decided to cut this expense.
“We have been spending approximately $900,000 a year on the athletics program,” said Eric Melcher, Coordinator of Communications and Public Relations at Vol State.
“Of that money, approximately $200,000 has been spent each year on athletic scholarships.
“With the advent of Tennessee Promise Last Dollar Scholarship Program, student athletes who qualify for TN Promise have full tuition paid anyway—just like any other qualifying student,” said Melcher.
Because of this and the availability of academic scholarships and federal grants, athletic scholarships were decided to be cut.
No staff or faculty will be affected by this decision.
“The athletic program will continue as a Division One Program,” said Melcher.
“We will still have men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball teams and they will continue to play games statewide,” included Melcher.
Vol State is not the only community college in Tennessee that will be making similar adjustments.
“It’s been a discussion of the college presidents for some time,” said Melcher.
This change in the budget will be effective starting this fall, 2016.
“Any student athlete who has already signed to Vol State will have the full length of their scholarship fulfilled,” added Melcher.
“We have 15 athletic scholarships this year in men’s basketball, 12 in women’s basketball, 16 in softball, and 22 in baseball.
“This will only impact new players,” he said.
The existing athletes, along with any future athletes will continue to have their meals covered for them through Vol State.
“We certainly think it will have an impact on the out-of-state students that might come here for athletics, because they won’t get in-state tuition labors any longer,” said Melcher.
“Previously we had offered them the same tuition rate as in-state students, and that won’t be possible anymore.
“I think it will have an impact on recruiting students from out-of-state, and we will just have to see how the rest goes,” added Melcher.
No other departmental scholarships are being considered to be cut from the budget.
“A big part of what we do here is making sure the students succeed in college,” said Melcher.
“And we want to make sure we have the funds to do that.
“Academics are our first priority here, and sometimes you have to make some hard decisions when it comes to supporting academics,” said Melcher.
Not everyone feels this is a fair decision.
“I think it’s wrong,” said Savannah Pollard, a student at Vol State.
“If a student works hard for their athletic abilities, they should be rewarded for it—just like at every other school.
“It’s going to make out-of-state athletes not want to be a part of this school, if they won’t be compensated for all the hours they spend playing sports for our school. Bad move,” said Pollard.
Five out of sic students agree that this is not favorable for any future athletes.
“As a student who graduated high school prior to TN Promise, and who has depended on scholarships from the school, I do not feel this is acceptable,” said Kat Lambert, a student at Vol State.
“Many Vol State students do not qualify for TN Promise and depend on other scholarships to help them afford school,” said Lambert.