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Date Posted: 11:02:06 11/21/05 Mon
Author: J.J.
Subject: CCSU to change scholarship rules
In reply to: J.J. 's message, "NEC could be playing in a postseason bowl game" on 11:01:24 11/17/05 Thu

NEC agrees to 30 football scholarships; CCSU looks to be on board.

By MATT STRAUB , Assistant Sports Editor

NEW BRITAIN -- For the last couple of years, Central Connecticut has been looking to improve its football program. That mission has been accomplished, with the Blue Devils winning shares of the last two Northeast Conference championships. Coach Tom Masella has often said, however, that he’d like to do more. He wants the program’s reputation to grow even stronger.

Thanks to a ruling this week, that mission now has a better chance of being accomplished.

The Northeast Conference has agreed to remove the financial-need component to athletic scholarships awarded to football players. The change, which takes affect next season should allow teams like Central Connecticut to better recruit players who in the past have gone to full-scholarship I-AA schools like those in the A-10.

"I think the goal is to increase the stature of our league," CCSU athletic director C.J. Jones said. "This has been talked about for a long time, especially in terms of trying to get an automatic bid into the (I-AA) NCAA playoffs. We’re hoping this eventually helps us down the line in that regard, but it helps certainly to raise the level of the Northeast Conference."

In the past the league has permitted member schools to provide 30 need-based scholarships for football, or the equivalent thereof. Under the new setup, the Blue Devils and the other NEC football conference member institutions would have the same number of scholarships, but would be free to give them to a player regardless of the potential student-athlete’s financial situation. The move could go a long way toward opening new doors on the recruiting trail.

The 30 scholarships would be a maximum number, but schools would not be required to reach that number. There were no minimums put in place by the NEC, and the league’s institutions have been told to move toward the maximum number at whatever pace they feel appropriate.

One of the main decisions schools would have to make would be deciding whether to offer full scholarships to fewer players or to offer partial scholarships to more players to try and better the depth of the program.

"I think a lot of the details in terms of implementing the plan are still being worked on," Jones said.

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