Sportico - "Military Mulls Massive Recruiting Plan to Enlist College Athletes"
"The U.S. military is actively discussing an initiative, proposed by a defense contractor, to fund athletic scholarships for tens of thousands of college athletes each year in exchange for their mandatory service.
Over the last seven months, the proposal, which would not include football and basketball players, has reached military and civilian leaders throughout the Department of Defense and key members of Congress. It has been pitched as a solution to inefficient recruiting within the armed forces—which spend billions on recruits who fail basic training—and financial unease in college sports, where athletic departments face increasing cuts to non-revenue teams like tennis and wrestling.
Last month the Pentagon requested a record $773 billion budget for 2023. That includes about $1.32 billion in “recruiting and advertising” costs across the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force, and billions more for the basic training of those recruits. By comparison, the 100-plus public FBS schools reported spending $653 million in scholarship costs outside of football and basketball in 2020-21, according to Sportico’s college financial database.
Jack Swarbrick, athletic director at Notre Dame, was initially “shocked” when a reporter described the proposal, but suggested he would be open-minded if it gained steam.
“We happen to have one of the more vibrant ROTC programs in the country, so we’re already involved in the military,” Swarbrick said. “I have about 101 questions, but would I listen? Sure.”
The average D-I men’s lacrosse team, for example, fields 49 athletes, but the NCAA only allows schools to offer 12.6 scholarships for the sport. Most men’s lacrosse players are on fractions of a full grant-in-aid, if they are receiving anything at all. Should the government adopt this plan widely, across multiple departments, branches and intelligence communities, Maloney said its scope could eventually cover hundreds of thousands of college athletes each year."