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Lockbaum Says Holy Cross Should Benefit from New Scholarship Rules

Friday, February 17, 2012

 

With this week’s announcement that the Patriot League will begin permitting merit based athletic scholarships for football, one former Holy Cross great says the Crusaders will be able to take their program to the next level.

During his days with the Crusaders, Gordie Lockbaum was a national sensation. The multi-talented Lockbaum played both sides of the ball, earned All-American honors twice as a defensive back and was twice a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Gordie Lockbaum

Lockbaum left the Crusaders as the most decorated player in Holy Cross history.

His time with the Crusaders was also the program’s golden age, with Holy Cross finishing 11-0 and No. 1 in the Division I-AA postseason poll his senior season of 1987.

The current Crusaders are enjoying their own run of success, having just finished their seventh consecutive winning campaign. Still, Lockbaum thinks the Patriot League’s decision to allow 15 merit based athletic scholarships annually will help Holy Cross return to national prominence.

“It creates a different culture because now you are getting a different type of kid,” Lockbaum said. “Not a lot of kids are going to go to school and pay when they could go for free. This opens up the door to a whole new group of student-athletes that Holy Cross couldn’t get before.”

These scholarships will begin in 2013, so they do not affect Holy Cross’ current group of incoming freshmen, and cannot be given to players already on the team. The program will have 15 full scholarships, or the equivalent amount of money, and can divvy that up however they please. Still, Lockbaum does not believe the scholarship money will change the over-arching appeal of Holy Cross.
 “I don’t think the appeal of the school as an academic institution changes at all,” Lockbaum said. “The fact that they have scholarships doesn’t change what makes Holy Cross great. It will just keep more kids open to it in the recruiting process.”

Current head football coach Tom Gilmore agrees that scholarships will help the program, but says that they will not change his recruiting strategy. Rather, Gilmore says, they will simply help his coaching staff land the high-level student-athletes it was already recruiting.

“I don’t think it changes our philosophy, but it allows us to hang around a little bit longer with our top guys,” Gilmore said. “A lot of players eliminate us when they find out we can’t give scholarships, but this keeps us in the running. I think it will increase our yield off the top, but I don’t think it changes the kind of players we are targeting.”

Coach Tom Gilmore

The Crusaders have enjoyed seven consecutive winning seasons under Gilmore's watch.

Gilmore also said he does not believe giving scholarships will change the attitude of his team or program. He stresses that the academic standards of the Holy Cross football will not change, and actually sees the scholarships as a way to improve upon the academic achievements of the team. Still, the goal of any football team is to win games, and Gilmore believes the new rules will give his staff a greater chance to do that.

“I think that after four years of recruiting with scholarships, we will really be able to build some quality depth,” Gilmore said. “We have already done a good job of playing with anybody, but this should help us compete with the top schools in the country.”

Holy Cross begins its spring practices March 17th, and will hold its annual spring football game on April 14th.

 

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