not all merit $$$ is automatically renewable
True, and I don't think I was sufficiently clear about this in my original "Ask the Dean" response.
Any time a student is offered a merit scholarship, it's important to find out if the scholarship is renewable and, if so, to also ask about the terms that must be met in order to renew it. Typically it is a minimum GPA.
However, a Div. 3 college can NEVER require continued participation in a sport in order to renew a merit award.
Note also that Div. 3 athletes are free to quit their sport even in their freshman year ... and even before they start it.
Although I would never encourage an athlete to pretend to plan to continue a sport in order to boost admission odds or garner merit money, a student who does expect to participate in college is nonetheless free to bail any time at the Div. 3 level ... even before the first day of practice.
Keep in mind, too, that this lack of written commitment at the Div. 3 level can work in reverse as well. I've seen coaches make promises to high school seniors (e.g., "You'll be a four-year starter") that the coach doesn't keep.
Because Div. 3 has no athletic scholarships or Letters of Intent, coaches can never be certain how many recruited athletes will actually show up in September. So some coaches will make big promises to more players than they can actually accommodate, based on the assumption that many will end up elsewhere. BUT ... in those years when more-than-usual enroll, there are inevitably disappointed kids who feel that the coach was dishonest during the recruiting period.
So at the Div. 3 level, there can be a lot of changes that transpire in that first year ... both among students who say they'll play but don't and among coaches who woo players who may ultimately not even make the team.
But any Div. 3 athlete who was awarded a merit scholarships and has met the renewal terms of that scholarship should contact the NCAA if the continuation of the scholarship appears to be directly linked to the continuation of the sport.