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College Hopes New Fishing Scholarship Will Lure Applicants

June 25, 2010

by Agnes Jasinski

Gone fishin’ this weekend? That hobby could net you more than a delicious bass. You could be eligible for some scholarship money, as well.

An article in The New York Times this week took a look at two college freshman from Tennessee attending Bethel University who both received athletic scholarships for their talents in competitive bass fishing. According to the article, they were the first students in the country to receive award money for the sport, with another teammate, a female this time, joining them in the scholarship pool this week.

Administrators at the college said they wanted to introduce a scholarship for the sport based on the interest in bass fishing across the country—there are about 220 college bass-fishing clubs in the United States—and the potential to use that surge as a recruiting tool for Bethel. According to the article, administrators had to first recognize bass fishing as an official sport at the college, and then set aside the budget and personnel to lead the program. The awards given range from $1,000 to $4,000, and require that students be not only good at bass-fishing, but successful in their academic lives as well.

Bass fishing’s growth in popularity has led to a growth in college clubs devoted to the sport, along with recognition from state groups. The Illinois High School Athletic Association recognized the sport last year, with 225 schools currently competing in various tournaments. The University of Florida’s team has done so well that they’ve won thousands of dollars to keep the club afloat; the Florida team also passed $50,000 on to the university, which will be used for a scholarship fund for low-income students. If you're not all that interested in fishing but excel in another sport, the point of this story is that there's probably sports scholarship money out there for you.

In others sports news, budget concerns on the community college level have led a number of the two-year institutions to cut back on their athletic offerings. A recent article in Inside Higher Ed focuses on the situation in Mississippi, where the governor has suggested that the state’s community colleges should either shut down sports programs completely or target certain sports for elimination to improve the budget picture there. Three schools have already taken his advice, although the most expensive sports to offer, like football, have remained. According to the article, Mississippi is a football state, and eliminating even junior college football would affect enrollment at the schools. Currently, the NJCAA has 511 member institutions.


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