Like in any facet of life, there will be times during the athletic recruiting process when an athlete is promised something and the coach or school that has promised it will not come through. I recently had a chance to see this happen first hand to an athlete who thought he had made his final college decision last summer.
This basketball player was spending the off-season on the top AAU team in his state. He was a great athlete and one of the in-state schools came calling and decided they wanted him at their school. This school offered him four in five, which is he paid his own way in year one, and then received a scholarship the following four years. The first year would give him a chance to redshirt, get stronger, and get acclimated to the college game.
But because this was nothing more than a promise and cannot be considered a contract, the family was wary at the time. The school wanted him to commit during the spring and have his college decision done before any of the other schools around the country could see him play. Because they felt this would probably be the best opportunity for athletics and academics, they decided to take the school up on the offer.
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Let me note that the school had a first year coach who had been an assistant there in the past. He was promoted when the previous coach had retired and this would be considered his first recruiting class. And while this athlete didn’t sign, everyone knew that he was expected to go to that school.
The athlete eventually does a solid job as a senior (Not great but good) and is still expected to attend the school. But because the coach had done so well and shocked so many people on their way to a conference title, he became a hot target for other schools. And while they struggled in March Madness, that didn’t stop a school from coming in and offering him three times what he was making at this mid major program.
With that much of a pay increase, the coach obviously took the money and ran. I didn’t think much about this recruit and was just under the assumption that he would still be attending the school. They eventually hired a new coach from out of state that had no connection to this school (Outside of knowing the AD) and likely had no idea about this promise for an eventual scholarship.
The athlete thought he had made his college decision nearly ten months ago, things changed quickly. The promise of a scholarship, which they were wary about to begin with, disappeared as the coach eventually left the State. So what is the athlete supposed to do now?
He ended up signing with a solid Division II program out of state. It may not be closer to home and offer as good of an education but the level may be a better fit for his game. It could offer him a chance to see the floor earlier than the Division I school.
The only reason I even brought up this story is that I saw the press release related to his commitment. I assumed he was going to the Division I program before this. And as the title of the article states, be very wary of promises in athletic recruiting. If you can get things officially done, I am willing to bet that you will sleep much better at night.
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