Friday, May 16, 2008

Medical Scholarships

Jordon Corbin, the tight end and defensive end from Lakeland, Florida, profiled here by me a little less than a year ago, has given up football due to a lingering knee injury. He was the most heralded of the 3 tight end recruits from last year. He had moved from tight end to defensive end during the Spring, but decided that his knee, which he injured in high school, just wouldn't let him go at full speed and he would have to give up his dream of playing football.

It's very sad, and you hate to see a kid have to leave a football team before he ever really became a part of it. He got injured in high school, but LSU honored his commitment and gave him a chance to come in and heal. He never played for us despite being a 4-star recruit. He becomes the second player to leave the team from the Class of 2007 after Delvin Breaux decided his neck injury would not let him play either.

Mark Snyder from the Class of 2006 is also on medical scholarship due to multiple knee injuries, and there was some talk in the past that Kirston Pittman would be placed on a medical scholarship, but thankfully that did not happen. Cousin Kirston is awesome.

The good news for Mr. Corbin is that he still gets a free education. He remains on what is called a "medical scholarship." With a medical scholarship, a player is removed from the roster and no longer counts against the 85 player maximum, but retains his scholarship.

I once read the details of how it works, but I cannot find any of the specific information any longer. I know certain safeguards are in place to make sure that the medical scholarship system isn't abused. Otherwise, a coach can simply place any player who isn't cutting it on the field onto the medical scholarship list and get the person off the 85-man list without actually kicking him out of school.

I know that the medical scholarship is reversible, but the process of reversing it is arduous. I believe the player, in order to return from a medical scholarship list to the team proper has to go before a committee of medical experts, and the committee must vote as to whether it is a good idea. As I recall, the vote must be 2/3 in favor of the player returning, or the player does not return. I believe the player may also need clearance to by the committee in order to go ON a medical scholarship, but I'm not sure and I can't find the information.

The upshot is that the medical scholarship program is very good for the athlete and the team. Players who are too injured to play can stay in school and finish their education on scholarship, and the teams are free to seek out a player to replace him on the roster. It also removes one of the incentives a coach has to cut an injured recruit loose, and that's a good thing.

I do think that the system is potentially subject to abuse, in that a creative coach can probably get roster numbers down by making questionable moves to put players into the medical scholarship program who may not really be seriously injured, but haven't developed enough to be contributing players. I hope it's an issue the NCAA is at least looking out for, but so far no one has ever been accused of abusing this particular system. But any system that allows a coach to jimmy up his roster numbers has to be monitored closely for abuse.

Good luck to Jordon. I was looking forward to seeing him play, but now I hope he gets a good education and gets on with his life.

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