While the move by Fordham would seem to signal a possible push toward exiting the league altogether, officials at the Patriot League office want Fordham to be part of the league.
"There is a strong desire both on the part of Fordham and the Patriot League to continue our long-standing relationship," said Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell, the Chair of the Patriot League Council of Presidents. "The interim arrangement we have agreed to will allow Fordham to begin to award scholarships in football while affording the league time to address merit aid for football and broader issues related to membership expansion. This issue comes at a very difficult financial time on all of our campuses."
Fordham's eligibility for the title in the future will be evaluated pending the decision on athletic scholarships for all members.
Patriot League members are permitted to offer scholarships in the League's other 22 sports, but most do not. Bucknell only issues merit-based -- or athletic -- scholarships in basketball, as do all other conference schools. All other student-athletes at Bucknell, including those in football, receive need-based financial aid and receive assistance through the financial aid office, just as non-student-athletes.
The idea of athletic scholarships has been floated around the league for more than a decade. In 1996, the league allowed scholarships for basketball players beginning in 1998, and within the next decade all schools were doing so. Lafayette was the final holdout, finally giving way to basketball scholarships in 2006.
The Patriot League Council of Presidents will continue to discuss both the competitive and financial implications of athletic scholarships for football as well as the long-term goals of the league.