When football cut it’s scholarships from 120 to 85, it took a few years, but it brought in a new world of parity that led to the boom in the sport. As much as ESPN wants a 10 team reality, parity that puts a Clemson in a position to win it all is what has pushed us into the 10’s of Millions in TV money.
College basketball was an affable backwater that no one cared about, then title IX reached out and forced them to cut the scholarships from 15 to 13. While this didn’t sound substantial it proved to be huge. Suddenly kids were winding up having to choose different schools, and suddenly college basketball mattered. 13 scholarships is probably more responsible for the value of the NCAA tourney than any other person or rule.
No I don’t think these need to be trimmed more, but there is a sport that need trimming. As I saw the stories about UConn’s Women’s team breaking their 90 game winning streak with a 91 game winning streak I was reminded of that one big difference in Men’s and Women’s rules. With 15 scholarships per school it leads to a stratified environment. Now I’m not trying to say it’s the only reason UConn has won so many games, but you don’t see that happening on the men’s side. You almost did before the scholarships were reduced. The talent difference between the top 5, then the next 10, then the next 10, then….. is so discernable that many women’s games are lopsided blowouts. Our women deserve better treatment than that.
So I say drop them down to 13 for Women’s teams it’s been plenty for the men, and should have nearly the same effect (They don’t have to deal with the early exits). Then take those 2 scholarships and give them to Women’s Soccer or Softball or Volleyball. Frankly they should probably elevate Women’s Soccer and give it 20 or so Scholarships and make them full rides. Then make schools have to play or drop out of D1.
Women’s coaches and players should be all for this, because you can try to get people in the seats to watch the beauty of the game all you want, but only winning ever really works. With 13 scholarships you should have winning spread around more, and that will get people to watch not wanting to see if UConn (or Tennessee or Baylor or etc…) can win their 40th game this year.