NW MBB preview - Diego Bernard

Junior guard Diego Bernard dribbles near the top of the key in the first half of Northwest men's basketball's win over Emporia State Jan. 9 at Bearcat Arena. Bernard, who scored 19 points in the matchup, played a significant role in Northwest's rebound 92-71 win. 

If this is your first time reading, welcome. If you’ve read either of the first two editions of this mailbag column, then welcome back. The main premise, per usual, is to focus on anything regarding Northwest Athletics. Whether it be a question about soccer’s recruiting class in 2021, or the chances of men’s basketball winning another national title, I’ll answer it.

This week we had a few questions that looked at athletics off of the court/field.

Why are student-athletes a higher priority for the COVID-19 vaccine than regular students? Shouldn’t it just be high-risk people and then alphabetical?

I could be wrong, or perhaps just missing this somewhere, but I don’t think student-athletes — at the moment — are prioritized over any other students at Northwest.

The CDC’s plan for rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine mentions three phases before college students are even talked about, which include healthcare personnel, essential workers and the elderly. It’s hard to imagine a situation in which a student-athlete would have time to work in healthcare or be an essential worker, along with being a student and competing at the same time.

And, of course, it’s hard to imagine any situation in which a student-athlete would be deemed elderly.

So, based on those, I don’t think student-athletes are prioritized over any other student at Northwest.

“I have heard nothing about athletes getting the vaccine first,” a Northwest student-athlete said.

If that is, or ends up being the case, the only justifiable reason would be that those athletes are required to travel to compete. It’s their choice, of course, but that’d still call for them being vaccinated. Nonetheless, I haven’t heard anything, nor do I expect that to be the case.

Will Northwest ever travel to St. Joseph to play Missouri Western?

Yes. No. Maybe? I’m really not sure at this point.

I mean, the matchup was supposed to happen when both teams were unbeaten back in December, and then a COVID-19 complication in the Northwest program altered that, changing the date to Jan. 19.

The No. 3 Bearcats were supposed to hit the road to face the No. 16 Griffons after two tough matchups with Fort Hays and Nebraska Kearney, until a positive COVID-19 case in Missouri Western’s program effectively left the already rescheduled game to be rescheduled.

As of now, there isn’t another makeup date in place. However, both teams have a mutual Thursday off in their schedules, Feb. 4. The interesting thing is that Western is supposed to travel to Maryville to face Northwest in Bearcat Arena Feb. 6. So, could we really get two Bearcats-Griffons games in a 48-hour span? It’d sure be cool if we did.

That date is really the only one I see that would perfectly work out. Otherwise, it’ll be another Tuesday game, which is the day the MIAA has apparently designated for rescheduled matchups.

But, yes, I do think the Bearcats will end up in St. Joseph at one point or another.

How exactly are scholarships divided up between each sport? What determines the amount each sport gets?

It’s important to note that there are few among the thousands of athletes at the Division II level who receive a full scholarship — not everyone can hand out checks like Alabama football or Kansas basketball.

Division II mostly focuses on partial scholarships, that way student-athletes can still receive at least some aid for going to a certain school.

For example, basketball programs at the Division II level, men’s and women’s, get 10 full scholarships to disperse to the student-athletes. Obviously, there are more than 10 people on a basketball team, so those 10 scholarships could be divvied out multiple ways, including 20 athletes getting half-scholarships. Hopefully that example starts to make things make sense.

It’s for sure a weird concept to grasp at first, but somewhat makes sense once you get the hang of it. Another example is football programs being allotted 36 full scholarships when there are clearly more than 36 people on a football team.

For a side note, any student-athlete that stays extra years due to eligibility being expanded for COVID-19 reasons will not count toward the program’s scholarships for that season. So, a football senior returning wouldn’t count toward those 36 scholarships to distribute, but they’d still receive one.

And, of course, 36 would just be the maximum. If a university didn’t have the funds to provide 36 scholarships to student-athletes then it wouldn’t have to.

I’d genuinely hate being in charge of scholarships, so I commend the coaches that have to deal with it on a daily basis.

It’s a mess, but I hope that somewhat cleared the air. If not, I’ll gladly answer further questions in next week’s edition.

Walk-the-talk is a mailbag that focuses on all things Northwest Athletics. To submit a question for the next edition of the mailbag, tweet @ByJonWalker or email j.walker.missourian@gmail.com.

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