Sports

Justice Department looks into NCAA scholarships

INDIANAPOLIS — The Justice Department's antitrust division wants to know more about why the NCAA awards scholarships on a year-to-year basis and why scholarships are limited to five years.

The NCAA insists it has the answers.

Bob Williams, a spokesman for college sports' largest governing body, said Thursday that the U.S. Justice Department contacted NCAA officials last week and is now talking to member schools.

"We walked them through the why and they asked do you mind if we contact some of your schools to get their opinion and we said go ahead," Williams said. "They wanted information and we gave them information."

According to a statement on the NCAA Web site, scholarships are awarded annually based on merit, so annual reviews are the fairest to ensure that student-athletes are meeting the standards for a merit award.

"Student-athletes must demonstrate that they deserve the merit-based award of athletics aid in two ways — by remaining academically eligible for competition and by meeting participation expectations in the sport for which aid is granted," the statement said. "The NCAA has also explained that the five-year rule (or 10 semesters for Division II) is linked to the fact a student-athlete has only five years or 10 semesters in Division II in which to use his or her four years of eligibility to participate in NCAA sports."

Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona declined comment.

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