The Patriot League — the athletic conference in which Georgetown plays football — announced earlier this year that its members may give merit-based athletic scholarships to football players. The university has, for now, declined to make this change.

We fail to understand why.

The university offers only need-based aid to football players, although other Georgetown sports programs have long used merit scholarships as an asset in recruiting. Director of Athletics Lee Reed recently told The Hoya that although most schools in the Patriot League have taken advantage of the policy change, “That’s not what we’ve been or what we want to do.”

It remains unclear why, when other Georgetown sports teams already offer merit aid, football should be any different. We maintain that merit-based aid will provide a net benefit for the football program and for all of Georgetown athletics.

The football program is on an encouraging, competitive trajectory, and merit-based scholarships would compound this continued growth. The team, which won an unexpected eight games last year and fell just short of the Patriot League championship, risks falling behind its competition if it doesn’t remove this self-imposed handicap. Reed noted in his interview that Georgetown is “running out of schools” with the same aid policy, leading the team to schedule more out-of-conference games this season.

Unfortunately, it’s hard not to interpret the decision to forgo merit-based scholarships as anything but complacency with mediocrity on the field. The football team should be allowed to pursue the levels of success reached by other programs on campus, and its players — who commit a huge amount of time on the university’s behalf — should be given the same financial support that their competitors and Georgetown athletic peers receive.

Even if Georgetown never becomes a football powerhouse, a consistently successful program led by players on athletic scholarships would offer more to the university than just reason to cheer. Alumni relations, university visibility and revenue are just a few off-field areas that would benefit from putting more points on the scoreboard.

We believe that the potential benefits of merit-based aid to the football program, both in terms of competitive and financial success, fit the mission of Georgetown athletics.

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