On September 28, 1999, the Junior Olympic Program Committee (JOPC) took a bold step for the future of men's gymnastics by adopting a Men's Scholarship Program at the Junior Level. The scholarship program mandates that a one-dollar donation be collected for every athlete participating in a men's USA Gymnastics sanctioned event where a fee is charged. This one-dollar per athlete fee will be donated to the National Gymnastics Foundation Men's Scholastic Scholarship Program.
Since the 1970's, the pool of NCAA programs offering varsity gymnastics has decreased from approximately 140 programs to 25 in 1999. Along with this decline in the number of schools offering men's gymnastics there has been a severe reduction in the number of scholastic opportunities available for male gymnasts seeking support for post-secondary school education while remaining in the sport.
The men's program membership has identified that a major concern is the continuation of competitive and scholarship opportunities for college age men. If we are to assure a healthy program at the college age level, then we must take steps to help ourselves. The USAG Men's Program staff has worked diligently, along with many others, to save endangered NCAA programs. In addition, USA Gymnastics has been working to increase the training opportunities for men at every level. A strong scholastic scholarship program would be an integral part of that total package and could aide in the retention and development of both club and NCAA programs.
In 1996, at the urging of the USAG Men's Program, the National Gymnastics Foundation began a men's scholastic scholarship program. The program was part of an overall foundation initiative to address individual needs within the men's and women's programs from the grassroots level all the way to the elite level. Since 1996, the National Gymnastics Foundation Men's Scholastic Scholarship program has annually distributed between $20,000 to $36,000.
While this is a significant beginning, the JOPC and a majority of coaches realize that the men's program needs a concerted effort at increasing the amount of scholarship opportunities for men. While everyone is sympathetic to the cost of competition and hesitant to increase that cost by even one dollar, it is felt that this is an extraordinary situation that warrants action. In addition, 100% of the funds collected in this program will be returned to athletes in the form of scholastic scholarships. There is also the realization that the more we can expand the opportunities for scholastic scholarships, the more athletes that can be helped regardless of their competitive level.
The competition or event director for every mens' sanctioned event will be required to forward one dollar for every participant to the National Gymnastics Foundation. A check, made out to the National Gymnastics Foundation - Men's Scholarships, must be included in the Sanction Report Form which must be submitted to USA Gymnastics following every sanctioned event.
Fifty percent of the funds collected for men's scholarships will be distributed within one year of when they are collected, the remaining fifty percent of the collected funds will go into an endowment fund to assure the continuation of the men's scholastic program.
What is The National Gymnastics Foundation?
The National Gymnastics Foundation was established in 1988 from proceeds totaling $1.4 million from the 1984 Olympic Games. Since that time, USA Gymnastics has received various Foundation grants supporting activities to assist USA Gymnastics in achieving its goals to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. USA Gymnastics is the Foundation's sole member.
Can an Individual Make Donations to the Men's Scholarship Program?
Absolutely! All contributions to the National Gymnastics Foundation Men's Scholarship Program would be welcomed and are tax deductible. Please send your donation to the National Gymnastics Foundation - Men's Scholarships in care of USA Gymnastics. What a wonderful way to directly support deserving athletes while contributing to the growth of men's gymnastics in the United States.