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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