I have to disagree with your assumption that team competitions are not the way to go. By the contrary, track and field in this country continues to lose interest because people are tired of seeing the invitational format. They are too long, and if your a fan of one program, the sparcity of athletes from your particular school competing in a cohesive format makes for a boring meet. Rivalries are what make sports interesting, not just fast times.
I think Ron Allice at USC, who has put together one of the most competitive dual meet teams in the country is proof that you do not need a lot of scholarships to have a competitive dual meet team. He has done it, not only with limited scholarships, but at a private school, where the cost of education prohibits the amount of walk-ons that you would have at a state school.