You sign with the school, not the coach, son

  • 10/01/2009 5:18 pm in

That, in a nutshell, is how the National Letter of Intent will be enforced at NCAA member schools moving forward according to a report by The Sporting News:

The National Letter of Intent Policy and Review Committee sent a memo to member schools Thursday announcing that “institutions should be aware they are prohibited from establishing any additional conditions associated with the NLI agreement in advance of a prospective student-athlete signing the NLI.”

A copy of the memo was provided to Sporting News by a Division I basketball coach. The memo declares that if any institution or its employees “offer additional conditions, the prospective student-athlete’s NLI is subject to being declared null and void along with possible institutional penalties.” The memo does not state what sort of penalties might be enforced.

Obtaining a release from a Letter of Intent has become commonplace following coaching changes: both Devin Ebanks and Terrell Holloway were released from IU after Kelvin Sampson was fired. This past spring, Xavier Henry invoked a clause in his LOI with Memphis after John Calipari left the school and bolted for Kansas.

I can see both sides of the argument. From the school’s perspective, the LOI has the name of the university, not the coach. If these clauses are allowed, what’s to keep a coach from leveraging a recruit as a bargaining chip?

For example, school A signs a five-star recruit and allows an out-clause in his LOI. In the spring, school A’s coach says to school B, if you hire me, I’ll bring this five-star recruit with me. School B hires the coach and school A is left without its coach and five-star recruit.

From the recruit’s perspective, you are recruited by and offered a scholarship by a coach. If the coach who offered you the scholarship is no longer there, is it really fair to force a kid to honor his LOI and play for a different coach?

So, what’s the overriding take away from this? Many kids will now wait until the spring to sign. Coaches typically change jobs in the spring, so if a kid is dead set on playing for a particular coach, he’ll wait until he’s certain of that coach’s job status.

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  • cooper

    Unbelievable stupid. Once again the NCAA lives in la la land.

  • Hardwood83

    Won't this just increase the number of elite guys that simply won't sign an LOI? Does anyone know the percentage of guys that sign? I assume it is very high, but not required, right?

  • Bryan

    A knee jerk reaction to John Calipari's move to combine two school's recruting classes, and boot the majority of his returning players off the team. Seems like they could have just taken the Big 10's oversigning rules and applied them to all member institutions, and produced a similar effect, without reducing the bargaining power of the individual student athlete. But hey, when has the NCAA ever been concerned with the welfare of the student athlete?

  • You are correct, LOI's are not required. Not sure on the percentage of guys that sign, but it's got to be close to 99 percent. This announcement has a chance to change that, especially for the elite players, as you reference.

  • This isn't going to change anything. This is what the rule was before. Any “addendum” was just some promise that the recruit would never have been able to enforce through the NLI program or NCAA. Now instead of a written statement on letterhead, it will be an email, or a verbal agreement.

    It will scare some kids into signing in the spring, but really this is not a change in policy. This is the NCAA restating what the rule always was.

  • shpiders

    What the NCAA should do is make coaches sit out a year if they change schools – just like a transfer would sit out a year.

  • tberry

    The school is the one offering him his scholarship and he is signing with the school.

    Might make a coach think twice before he looks for greener pasture and make prospective schools know that they are only getting the coach!!!

  • This isn't going to change anything. This is what the rule was before. Any “addendum” was just some promise that the recruit would never have been able to enforce through the NLI program or NCAA. Now instead of a written statement on letterhead, it will be an email, or a verbal agreement.

    It will scare some kids into signing in the spring, but really this is not a change in policy. This is the NCAA restating what the rule always was.

  • Hoosier Clarion

    TacoJohn has the right perspective here. Nothing has changed except the rule has been reaffirmed so schools, coaches and recruits can not run loose with adding an addendum in the LOI. It will put a school's offer and recruit's signing in concrete. It will make the bonds to each mean something, the way it is expected to be – SOLID. Might even neutralize WWW to a certain extent.

  • shpiders

    What the NCAA should do is make coaches sit out a year if they change schools – just like a transfer would sit out a year.

  • tberry

    The school is the one offering him his scholarship and he is signing with the school.

    Might make a coach think twice before he looks for greener pasture and make prospective schools know that they are only getting the coach!!!