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BRM
10-02-2009, 09:59 AM
Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009 - 3:28 p.m. ET

When basketball star Xavier Henry signed a letter of intent last fall to play for the University of Memphis, his agreement included an addendum stating the university would release him from that obligation if John Calipari were no longer the Tigers' coach.

Such deals now out of bounds in college sports.

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-athletes NLI is subject to being declared null and void along with possible institutional penalties." Susan Peal of the NLI office said possible punishments range from a letter of admonishment to expulsion from the National Letter of Intent program.

The National Letter of Intent program is a voluntary system run by the Collegiate Commissioners Association out of offices at the NCAA in Indianapolis. It was established so prospects can end the recruiting process by making a formal, signed commitment to a university. Schools benefit by gaining some certainty regarding which athletes will be entering their programs.

The concept of an addendum promising an NLI release had become more popular recently, as releases from the letter became easier to obtain. It escalated last year, with top-10 prospect DeMarcus Cousins refusing to sign at UAB because the school would not agree to release him if coach Mike Davis were to leave, and when Henry and guard Nolan Dennis abandoned their signed letters with Memphis after Calipari departed for Kentucky.

The letter of intent includes clauses mandating eligibility penalties for those athletes who do not spend at least one academic year at the school where they sign, but the past decade has seen more players gain releases when circumstances change such as a coach being fired or taking another job.

The NLI committee's memo said an athlete who wants to be released from a signed letter will need to follow the standard procedures of submitting a request form.



I think what we will see happen now is recruits will wait until the spring of their senior year before they sign. Unless they don't really care who the coach is but that is pretty rare for the top recruits. They sign with coaches, not schools, for the most part.

Boston Red
10-02-2009, 10:12 AM
That only works for the very best players, though. Schools will just move on to Plan B if they think the dropoff from Plan A is not too great and Plan B is willing to sign early.

Unassisted
10-02-2009, 10:53 AM
Seems to me like that could get the government looking into whether those letters should really be so binding. It won't take too many media sob stories (complete with teary soundbites from parents about kids being handcuffed to University Y after Coach X left there for greener pastures) to trigger a congressional investigation.

WMR
10-02-2009, 10:59 AM
If you're an elite d-1 athlete you should NEVER sign a LOI in the first place.

Boston Red
10-02-2009, 11:00 AM
If you're an elite d-1 athlete you should NEVER sign a LOI in the first place.


That covers about 15 guys a year in each sport. Everyone else would have to be pretty flexible about their choice of schools if they were to follow that strategy. Better not get hurt, either.

WMR
10-02-2009, 11:03 AM
That covers about 15 guys a year in each sport. Everyone else would have to be pretty flexible about their choice of schools if they were to follow that strategy. Better not get hurt, either.

Yep, generally. I'd put the number at closer to 40-50 for basketball.

The NCAA screws the pooch yet again; who could've guessed that.

It should be about the kids and what is in THEIR best interests, but that's not how the NCAA operates.

Boston Red
10-02-2009, 11:10 AM
I really think the number is lower than that. If you're the #35 ranked player in a class, and you hold an offer from Kentucky, do you really think Calipari is going to wait for you if he can go get the #37 player who plays the same position to sign an LOI?

If you're ranked #35 and want to play at Xavier, not signing an LOI may work. But I think you have to be ranked a lot higher than that to have the most elite programs hold a spot for you without a signed LOI.

WMR
10-02-2009, 11:11 AM
I'm talking about the majority of schools. UK is in that 3-5% that can tell a top 50 kid that he must sign or they will look elsewhere.

The other 95% of schools out there would take a top 50 kid and guarantee his spot without a LOI.

Boston Red
10-02-2009, 11:15 AM
Well, that's exactly my point. If you're not super-elite, this strategy is fine....as long as you are flexible about your school choice.

WMR
10-02-2009, 11:36 AM
Well, that's exactly my point. If you're not super-elite, this strategy is fine....as long as you are flexible about your school choice.

If you consider 'super-elite' to be the top 50 kids...

A top 50 kid could go attend the vast majority of schools and have his scholarship guaranteed w/o a loi.

flyer85
10-02-2009, 01:57 PM
If you're an elite d-1 athlete you should NEVER sign a LOI in the first place.
yep, the upside is the school not the elite player. Although in recent years most can get a released from their NLI if the coach leaves.

Caveat Emperor
10-02-2009, 02:09 PM
I'd rather the NCAA pass regulations regarding coaching contracts (and the ridiculous system of buyouts) to try and curb that shuffle than to mess with the way kids pick their schools.

IslandRed
10-02-2009, 04:13 PM
The funny thing is, signing an LOI doesn't guarantee anyone a scholarship. It binds the player to the school, but the school is still allowed to withdraw its scholarship offer at a later date. But allowing a player to sign a LOI and then not following through with the scholarship is generally frowned upon and is definitely ammo for those recruiting against that school, so it's rarely done unless the school has boxed themselves into a corner by over-signing.