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Patriot League defers decision on scholarships

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Patriot League's anticipated decision about potentially adding scholarships for football has been tabled by the league's council of presidents for the next two years.

The league allows athletic scholarship in all sports except football, which since its inception in 1986 has been considered a separate entity. The football programs are allowed to offer only need-based financial aid.

Fordham, an associate league member for football whose other teams generally compete in the Atlantic 10, elected to offer 14 football scholarships in addition to need-based financial aid to other players this season and subsequently was ruled ineligible for the Patriot League's championship and automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision. The Rams played the other six league teams and finished 5-6 overall.

Fordham's administration agreed to the ineligibility through the 2012 season, but sought resolution to the scholarship issue at the presidents' meeting. If scholarships aren't approved, Fordham likely will seek to join another league.

The NCAA allows FCS programs to fund 63 athletic scholarships, but the Patriot League would have capped the number far below it.

Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette and Lehigh are full Patriot League members which sponsor football, while Fordham and Georgetown are associate members for football.

In a joint statement, the Council of Presidents announced: "Following extensive discussions at their meetings this week, the Patriot League Council of Presidents elected to table a decision to adjust the current need-limited model of financial aid for two years pending additional deliberations related to the league's strategic direction.

"We had discussions about various financial aid models and recognized and evaluated the benefits as well as the potential costs associated with athletic merit aid for football. League presidents expressed their commitment to the stability and long-term positioning of the league."

The Patriot League announced it will not have further comment on the scholarship issue.

12/15 12:24:13 ET

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