So we popped the champagne, jumped with joy, celebrated, and patted ourselves on the back for the game-changing announcement that the NCAA passed legislation to, in effect, end early recruiting. Not so fast buster!
I agree that commitments from middle-schoolers is crazy. But if you think this new legislation ends all the challenges that early recruiting presented, you are living in a dream world. Reality is just around the corner.
Consider the following:
Players and parents will still feel just as much pressure to attend camps, clinics and showcases. They will be sold on the idea that they still need to make an impression on the big-name college programs at a young age. The need to “get in front” of college coaches didn’t change at all, you just won’t know now if that college coach is interested until September 1st of your junior year. Why? Because other people are “getting in front” of this college coaches at a young age and if you don’t you will be behind!!
Players and parents still don’t know where they really fit into the recruiting food chain. I understand that it’s heartbreaking for a player or parent to hear that they are not a “top 25” type of player at a young age.
Telling an eighth- or ninth-grader that they aren’t a big-time prospect is hard, no doubt. These players and parents will spend tons of money going to big-school camps and playing in big-time showcases thinking that they’re being noticed by that big school. Now, they don’t get to find out they aren’t not a prospect for those programs until September 1st of their junior year!
Players that have a verbal commitment at this time are in an impossible position. Now the reality is that the verbal commitment really didn’t mean anything anyway but now the player and her parents are supposed to believe that the college coach is still intent on honoring that offer when they have no communication with that college coach. For some very young players this means years of “blind faith”. Crazy I know but…
I believe as much as I want to breath that coaches, both college and travel, will never be able to follow the third-party communication part of this legislation. And we already know that where there’s a rule, there’s perceived loophole or “wink, wink” moment. Will coaches flat out cheat? Some might, will other look for ways to keep those committed players and parents calm by finding a loophole. I vote for the former.
Here is what I think it will look like. There is a scene in “All the President’s Men” where Carl Bernstein is trying to get confirmation from a source that “can’t go on the record” and he cooks up a very complicated game of “I know you can’t say but if you could say” that will become an example to college coaches everywhere of how to communicate with recruits that the rules say they can’t communicate with. Is it cheating or is it a loophole? We will see!
At the end of the day, I think there are many great things that can come from this new legislation. I do support the idea of setting Sept. 1st as a starting point in the recruiting process. It is a very positive first step, but it is not an end all, be all of happiness in the recruiting world.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.