When talking about scholarship offers from college coaches, it is very important to know that regardless of the situation, you may have one today and it may be gone tomorrow. The coaching staff may decide to go in another direction and apparently is not worried about giving you a warning. This is very scary for those out there overall.
A few years back, I received an email from a father whose son basically was a strong lean towards one school. While they did not commit, the only thing holding him back was the potential to decommit at another time. The coaches at this school knew that they were his #1 and were told that. But for whatever reason, they pulled his offer and used location as the reason. See the entire email and what you can do to protect yourself.
Back in March, my son took a visit to an FCS school that he liked very much. In April an official written offer (a full ride) arrived from the school that I will refer to as school A. School A stayed in close contact with my son and in November we visited school A yet again to see a game. School A also discussed with my son and his high school coach that they would like to have him come in in January for an official visit. My son was planning on committing at that visit after spending a weekend with the players. During this time my son also received two Division I offers from schools that he actually did not like as much as school A. He, his high school coach and I always communicated to school A when asked that they were his #1 choice even though he had received a few DI offers closer to home.
About two weeks after Thanksgiving I received a call out of the blue from the coach at school A that recruits our geographic area that my son no longer had a spot available at school A, effectively pulling his full ride offer off the table. I can assure you that this came with absolutely no warning. In fact we were in the middle of setting up his official visit in January. I was adamant about not having my son commit too early as I was so strongly against de-committing. I will say that this situation has made me very upset that I didn’t advise him to take the scholarship “just in case”. Whatever the reason they pulled his offer we just wish they had deadlined him to force us into accepting. It’s important to point out that my son scored over 600’s on his SAT’s and has a 3.5 GPA so we know it wasn’t grade or character related. My sense is it may have had to do with the number of players at his position and a medical redshirt.
At the moment he still has two full offers from DI schools, neither school he wants to attend, and one of those schools has had to move on with another 1-2 recruits as my son dragged his feet regarding them. This I don’t have a problem with as they have always been very forthright with what they were doing and my son was never sold on their school for many reasons, scholarship or not. So today we sit with limited options as School A waited till December to pull his offer and my son did not aggressively pursue other schools that contacted him through the fall as he honestly thought school A was were he was most likely going to end up.
This really is a worst case scenario for most parents and something that would be a worst nightmare. Unfortunately for the parent who emailed me, it is a situation that their family is going through. I want to say that I feel for them and cannot believe a Division I coach would pull a stunt like this. It happens but it makes me think less about coaches in general.
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So why did it happen? Obviously I cannot speculate but I have three reasons that could be a part of it. One he already mentioned but they may need repeating. The first is that they found recruits that they like more at his position or overall. This school might have put together a fantastic year and the bigger schools in the State were going through struggles/a coaching change. This opened the door for what they feel are better recruits who are closer to home for them.
Again, these are speculation of potential reasons why they moved on. Could the school have had questions about the athlete’s abilities, saw his senior tape, and decided to move on? There is no explanation of why they would offer a scholarship in the first place if this happened. Some schools do start questioning the abilities of their recruits and move on. It happens but it is a very poor move done by the coaching staff.
The third reason could be that the school really did decide to not recruit athletes from far away. I know a Division I assistant coach who works at a school in the South. He is from Midwest and used to recruit athletes from the state he grew up in. For whatever reason, the athletes either committed to another school late in the process or they signed with his school before leaving shortly after they enrolled.
The coaching staff at this school may really have taken in some recruits from further away and was sick of dealing with athletes being home sick. Again, that is an easy excuse but there really could be some legs to it. I personally wouldn’t buy it buy things like that can actually happen.
So what should the family do now? This all needs to be done on warp speed simply because Signing Day is so close. Updating the recruiting profile of their son and having video highlights online are a huge must. Mail takes time so having the footage online is vital for this family to help themselves open doors to other schools.
Distance was not a huge concern with their top school so they might as well start a wide search of colleges around their area. Click here to see a website that I believe lists all the colleges in the country as broken down by state. If you live in Ohio, look in states like Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and keep stretching it as far as you want. Your back is against the wall so why would you not contact as many schools as you can?
Make sure to also consider smaller schools as well. Just because you son had his heart set on playing Division I football doesn’t mean that playing at the Division II level wouldn’t be a good experience. It may be tough to swallow but you have to remember that the most important thing out of going to college is getting your education. Chances of playing professional are slim so make sure to find schools that offer a strong program in the major that you are considering.
The parents may have to take some time off work to do the research but you must find as many schools as you can in a short period. Try to open up as many doors as possible and see what happens. The worst thing that they will say is that they are not interested/have a full recruiting class. This has to be done as soon as possible. If schools are interested, you may also have to take some midweek visits.
What could have been done to avoid this situation for families in the future? Getting an offer that early from a college you love is a fantastic thing. It is something families dream of. But it seemed to me as if the family put all their eggs into one basket. If you have an offer, are confident about that school, and are not opening marketing yourself to other programs, my question is why not commit?
Hindsight is 20/20 and the athlete cannot do anything about what has happened. That is what makes this situation so tough. But as I have written about before, you want as many options as you can. You want to be able to look at schools at a wide range of levels so that you can compare Division I vs. Division II. That is why I feel all the eggs were put into one basket. And unfortunately, that school did not return the favor.
So if it were the fall and this family had the same opportunity, it sounds like they would have committed to that school. But if they were not 100% sure, then they should have been researching other programs and marketing themselves to other schools. Until you do this and take visits around your area, it is hard to really know if that school was the perfect fit.
So what are my final thoughts? As I told the father in email, if a coaching staff is going to pull something shady like this, what would stop them from telling his son that he won’t be on scholarship his second year in school? While it is hard to see the big picture right now because of their tunnel vision on the school that pulled the offer, there are a lot of great schools out there.
I believe it is similar to that of a high school breakup. You don’t want to part ways because you think your girlfriend may be the greatest catch ever. But when it comes down to it, there are a lot of great options out there as well. This family fell in love with the school that offered and that school/girlfriend cheated on them and burnt the bridge for it to ever happen.
So the key here is picking yourself up and getting back in the game. There is still time before Signing Day to find a great school. And in the end, this program may actually be a better fit than the school that has coaches willing to basically screw a recruit over.