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Offering four-year scholarships may give USC a recruiting edge

USC coach Andy Enfield will have one advantage he probably wasn't expecting when he agreed to take on the challenge of rebuilding the Trojans' basketball program last year.

He'll be able to guarantee recruits scholarships for four years.

Coaches in the school's revenue sports — football, and men's and women's basketball — will offer four-year scholarships to potential recruits beginning July 1, USC athletic director Pat Haden announced on Monday. Like most other schools, USC previously gave recruits one-year scholarships that gave the school the power to decide annually whether or not to renew.

"In taking this action, USC hopes to help lead the effort to refocus on student-athlete welfare on and off the field," Haden said in a school-released statement.

USC's decision may not matter to elite basketball prospects who don't envision waiting four years before leaving for the NBA anyway, but the policy change will surely appeal to mid-tier recruits. At the very least, this policy change gives players a bit more power if they get injured or if a coach tries to free a scholarship for a more promising prospect and demands they transfer.

Schools always granted four-year athletic scholarships until 1973 when the NCAA limited them all to one year to give coaches the power to take away a scholarship from a player who does not meet expectations athletically. The NCAA reversed that decision in the summer of 2011 when legislation passed giving Division I programs the option to offer multiyear scholarships that ensure an education as long as the athlete stays out of legal trouble, doesn't violate NCAA rules and maintains academic eligibility.

Most schools appear to have primarily stuck with the one-year renewable scholarships, but there are a few exceptions. Fresno State has said it has awarded multi-year scholarships to all of its athletes. Illinois has said most of its athletes are on multi-year scholarships as well.

What will be interesting to see is if USC's PR-savvy public proclamation puts pressure on other schools in the Pac-12 and nationally to follow suit. If most schools are offering one-year scholarships and USC is guaranteeing four years, that certainly seems to make the Trojans' offer a bit more valuable.

For more USC news, visit USCFootball.com.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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