By: OSCAR FOCK / NEWS CO-EDITOR
Starting next fall, student-athletes coming to LIU may face a new policy severely limiting their potential merit aid.
According to an LIU staff member with insight into the Athletic Department, new LIU students receiving an athletic scholarship of any amount may now have their total merit aid limited to a maximum of $10,000.
The staff member spoke under the condition of anonymity, since the person was not authorized to speak about new guidelines that have not yet been made public.
The Director of Athletics at LIU, William Martinov, responded to Seawanhaka’s inquiries about this with a broad statement on LIU scholarships that neither confirmed nor denied the reported changes.
According to Martinov, it is not uncommon for the school to make changes to the distribution of academic and athletic scholarships.
“The University continuously reviews the merit and athletic scholarships for each incoming class,” Martinov wrote in his statement.
Should this policy be instituted next fall, new student-athletes who wish to combine an athletic scholarship with merit aid and receive a total of $10,000 in scholarships, will still have to cover around $45,000 per year, a cost that includes tuition and room and board that needs to be covered through other means.
Student-athletes coming to LIU — to the Brooklyn campus as well as the Post campus — for the 2022 fall semester would be the first to be affected by this policy change; according to the staff member, this will have no impact on current LIU students.
The staff member also said that this decision to change the policy was made in the summer of 2021.
This staffer, among many other LIU Athletics staff members, received information about the policy change from a member of the University administration during a Zoom meeting that summer.
Information about the changes to the distribution of merit aid is hard to come by; both who is behind these potential changes and why they were made are unclear.
Despite repeated requests, the Department of Admissions, the Dean of Students, the Student Accounts, Enrollment Services, and the President’s Office of the University did not respond to Seawanhaka’s queries.
Of the school officials that returned Seawanhaka’s emails, including the President’s Office and the department of Enrollment Services, few claimed to have knowledge about the policy changes. Instead, they redirected questions to other departments.
But despite little official communication, discussions about this potential new policy have spread across both campuses, sparking outrage among current student-athletes.
“I disagree with this policy and think it is a terrible idea for the future of athletics at LIU,” Porter Levasseur, junior and a captain on the Men’s Swim team said.
“The school did a fantastic job expanding its athletics department. But now, when it comes to supporting those athletic programs, LIU is pulling the rug out from underneath the coaches and future athletes,” Levasseur said.
Another LIU swimmer, sophomore Isabella Seagrave, had not heard about the change until being contacted by Seawanhaka but questioned it.
“I am very upset to learn about this policy. It is making me question the university’s priorities,” she said.
Erin Hinch, a junior and hockey player at the Post campus, had heard the rumors about the potential changes.
“I don't think this is a very fair policy change. I feel it decreases the competitiveness of the application process,” she said.
Miranda Strongman, junior on the women’s volleyball team, had also not heard about the changes before but is pessimistic about the policy change.
“I don’t think the policy is fair. Full or nearly full academic scholarships are still given out, so why not athletics?” Strongman said.
“A school’s pride isn’t based solely on academics, athletics play a huge role in school spirit, competition, and sponsorships and endorsements for the college. Therefore, athletes should continue to be recognized for their hard work and skills,” she said.
Levasseur echoed Strongman’s statement and said that the new policy creates an unfair disadvantage for student-athletes.
“Why would a person really care about their grades when the biggest scholarship they can earn for their grades is $10,000?,” Levasseur said. “If someone comes in with a perfect high school GPA and perfect ACT score but also plays a sport, just the fact that they participate in an extra-curricular activity makes them ineligible for that scholarship they earned.”
In Martinov’s statement, he asserted that “Long Island University offers a robust and competitive scholarship package to attract student-athletes that excel academically and athletically. We are very confident that our scholarships will attract high-quality students that contribute to the success of our championship athletic program.”
Students, on the other hand, are not as confident.
The students Seawanhaka spoke to agreed that limiting merit aid for student-athletes risks turning top athletes away from LIU, making the school less competitive.
Successful athletics programs generate revenue for the school as a whole; losing out on top athletes could therefore have an adverse effect on the school and the entire student body.
“This policy will make recruiting ten times harder for our coaches and it will take away opportunities from student-athletes who excel in their sport and in the classroom,” Levasseur said.
While talks about this new policy continue to unfold, it remains uncertain whether this change will be instituted and what potential consequences it may have for LIU and the school’s athletics teams.