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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

While football generates a large amount of revenue for the university, the smaller sports consistently operate at a loss.

As a result, scholarships are not handed out as freely as they are within the football program, and sports such as baseball and softball are severely limited in how they are able to compensate their athletes.

Former Florida baseball player Brandon McArthur went through six years of schooling with only a partial scholarship to help fund his education. The baseball team is allotted 12.7 scholarships, and it is common practice for the full scholarships to be broken down into partials.

"It's something, I guess, you got to earn," McArthur said. "It's hard when you can't even give half of a scholarship to a guy."

College is not a cheap endeavor, and with only a fraction of an athletic scholarship, the baseball players have to cover the cost some other way. If a player doesn't come into school with other scholarships, money can be tough to come by.

Most students would work a job in such a situation, but McArthur said he has never known a player who has been able to work in addition to the countless hours put in on the diamond. The baseball team plays five games per week during the season and practices every Thursday, with Monday being the lone off day each week.

For this reason, a flat stipend of some sort makes sense to McArthur.

"If they're not going to give us the full scholarship, they need to give us something," he said. "It's not right for us to do the work that we do and have to go home and ask our parents for money."

That something, McArthur said, could be additional financial assistance, but if it were up to him, he would make some changes with the way the demanding schedule conflicts with his studies. The former fifth-round MLB draft pick is aware of the stigma that other students have about athletes and academics, but he argues that playing college baseball makes things tougher on him to earn a degree, which will ultimately pay his way in the future.

"It really actually offends me when people say that we have it easier," he said. "I would challenge anyone to come out here and go through our daily schedule, which starts at 7 a.m. with running, then we go to class, then we go to practice at 2 and our day is finally over at 7 p.m.

"I want someone to do all that and then say they really feel like studying."

Francesca Enea, a senior softball player, echoed the sentiment, saying that teachers become upset when athletes are not in class and sometimes hold grudges against the players. This may not be a big deal for an athlete who plans to leave school early to make a living in his or her sport, but it creates a tough situation for athletes who need their degrees in order to provide for themselves after college.

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"There are other things I wish we could get before money, like more slack with academic stuff," Enea said. "Even though everybody has this preconceived notion that we get all this slack for us, we really don't."

For Enea, it's not about getting paid to be a college athlete. It's about not letting softball make it harder for her to get an education, which will get her paid later.

"I feel like it's harder for women's sports because we have to focus on education more because there isn't really a future for us in our sport, so we have to make the most of every opportunity that we have," she said.

Melissa Rodgers contributed to this report.

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