When a student is awarded an athletic scholarship as an incentive to come play a sport for a certain college or university, assistance with payment for their postsecondary education hangs on their commitment to compete in that sport.

But what happens to that financial perk when competitive play isn't even an option?

New Jersey higher-education institutions that have already scrapped competition in fall sports in order to limit the impact of the COVID-19 public health crisis say students who were given a full or partial scholarship do not have to worry that this aid will be taken away.

"You might as well just close down an athletic department if anybody came out and said we're going to strip these kids' athletic scholarships because of a decision the university made," said Greg Viscomi, associate athletics director for communications and new media at Monmouth University.

The university, located in West Long Branch, is part of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which announced in late July that competition in sports would be cancelled for the fall. The decision also affected Rider University in Lawrenceville and Saint Peter's University in Jersey City.

In an emailed statement, Rider said it will be honoring all athletic scholarships for its fall student-athletes. Saint Peter's also said scholarships would not be affected by COVID-19, as long as the eligible student remains registered for classes.

The schools and the conference have indicated they're interested in playing their fall sports in the spring. Players are still free to train and work with coaches. That's also the plan, at least currently, for the nine New Jersey Athletic Conference institutions that scrapped fall sports on July 28.

NJAC schools — Kean, Montclair, New Jersey City University, Ramapo, Rowan, The College of New Jersey, William Paterson, Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden — do not offer athletic scholarships.

Princeton University does not award athletic scholarships, according to a university spokesperson. The Ivy League in early July became the first Division 1 conference to scrap fall athletics.

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