Signing Period Begins for Sports Recruits
By Anil Rao Executive Reporter
For NCAA Division I basketball sports recruits the early signing period starts Wednesday and goes until Nov. 16. Once sports recruits sign a letter-of-intent both the school and player are bound to each other. Here are some things to watch as the early signing period starts.
Which school will sports recruit Gary Harris pick?
Few recruitments have had the buzz of five-star shooting guard Gary Harris from Fishers, Ind. Recruiting expert Joe Eberhardt said the Harris recruitment is one of the biggest he has seen in years.
“The Harris recruitment has pretty much caught the attention of the Midwest and the country,” Eberhardt said.
All four players currently committed to Purdue say they plan to sign on Wednesday, however throughout the state of Indiana and nationally players have taken back verbal commitments. 2012 point guard Kyle Molock and 2013 forward Derek Willis were both committed to Purdue at one point but later took back their pledges.
Best class in the state of Indiana?
Eberhardt says that for the Purdue class to be the top in the state of Indiana they must get Harris.
“Right now, I give the edge to Indiana. If Purdue were to get Harris though, it becomes a toss-up and matter of preference. I would say that Indiana is slightly better at the point guard position and Purdue forwards are slightly better at this point,” Eberhardt said.
As of Monday night, ESPN.com recruiting rankings have Purdue as the No.13 class in the nation while Indiana University is at No. 6. However many top players have yet to commit so major fluctuations are expected.
Purdue 2012 commit shooting guard Raphael Davis from Fort Wayne, Ind., said that he disagrees with the assertion that the Indiana University class is better than Purdue’s.
“I think we are better than them. We got a lot of hard playing, hard working kids. We’ll prove it when we get to campus,” Davis said.
One of Painter’s best classes
While the 2007 recruiting class which includes E’twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel is Purdue’s most winning class, the 2012 class has a chance to set records of their own.
Eberhardt said Purdue has everything one would want in a good recruiting class.
“It has all the makings of a good class, not just the talent, not just the chemistry, it just clicks in every category,” Eberhardt said.
With the graduation of point guard Lewis Jackson and Kelsey Barlow transitioning to play the small-forward position, 2012 point guard Ronnie Johnson from Indianapolis, Ind., appears to be the player who can make the biggest difference early in his career.
Eberhardt said ample minutes will be available for Johnson to prove himself.
“There is an opening for Ronnie (Johnson) to step in early and play over 20 minutes a game, and he’s certainly good enough to do that,” Eberhardt said.
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NCAA reforms a modest step in right direction
By Tim Crone
Two weeks ago, the NCAA – my favorite sports organization – passed sweeping reforms. It’s difficult to believe that the scandal-plagued group actually moved so swiftly.
A major feature of the reform was to let individual conferences (should they elect to do so) allow athletes to receive $2,000 spending money on what the NCAA calls the full cost of attendance. This stipend existed for college athletes back in 1972. Many conferences feel the stipend should be more in the $3,000-4,000 range, and I agree with them. However, it is at least a start.
The NCAA also went back to the basics with a renewed emphasis on academics. The Academic Progress Rate cut-line will be raised over a four-year period from 900 to 930, and will be linked to eligibility for postseason play. During the first two years, 2012-13 and 2013-14, teams scoring below 900 on the four-year average would be ineligible for postseason play unless they averaged 930 on the two most recent years of data. In 2014-15, teams that do not hit the 930 mark would be ineligible unless they averaged 940 in the two most recent years. After that, all teams must reach 930 – no exceptions. The final measure passed, and certainly one of the most important, addresses summer basketball recruiting. The NCAA has agreed to drop the text-messaging ban and allow unlimited contact to prep players after June 15 of their sophomore year in high school. Instead of allowing 20 evaluation days in July, coaches may now have four in April (which was formerly a dead period) and 12 in July.
They will also now be allowed more on-campus contact with recruits and current players during the summer. This should reduce the influence of agents or unscrupulous coaches, which has been a huge issue in basketball. The No. 1 thing for high school athletes to keep in mind with the new rule changes is the raised academic eligibility standards for incoming freshmen and junior college transfers. Previously, high school seniors needed a 2.0 GPA in 16 core courses. Now they will need a 2.3 GPA and will have to complete 10 of those classes before their senior year. Junior college transfers will need a 2.5 GPA and can only have two physical education credits toward their eligibility.
The NCAA is definitely making strides toward upgrading its public image!
n The LSU-Alabama game may have been the best defensive college game ever played. It was brutal contact on every play. I LOVED it! “Run to the ball, baby.” n The Royals need to trade a couple of young outfielders for a starter.
n My quote of the day is from John W. Galbreath, a major league owner, “If I build a building, it’s going to stand for 100 years. You see, that’s a philosophy, a way of life, just like building your character.”
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NCAA Basketball Sports Recruiting Rules Change
Recently the NCAA changed a few of the college basketball Sports Recruiting rules in an effort to build more meaningful relationships between high school prospects and college coaches. The NCAA is now allowing unlimited telephone calls and text messages and deregulating private messages on social networks after an athlete’s sophomore year in high school.
Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, says “Part of this package is intended to increase the voice of the college and the value of an education through the coaches.”
The NCAA is looking at this move as a way to regulate third parties, like agents and street runners. A lot of college basketball Sports Recruiting is done during the summer months where AAU coaches and third parties have more of an influence on young high school athletes. This rule should help the college coaches build a better rapport with their potential recruits.
There were a few other changes:
- Official visits can begin on Jan 1st of a recruit’s junior year.
- Some contact will be allowed at a recruit’s school during the prospect’s junior year in conjuction with an evaluation.
- Stage, on-campus evaluations will be permitted on a Sports Recruiting visit.
You can read all of the NCAA Sports Recruiting rules and calendars here
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College Recruiting -Early Signing Period Conference Highlight – BIG 12
By Brian Bosworth, National College Recruiting Analyst
Next up in our look at NCAA basketball early signing period classes is the Big 12. Rick Barnes has built quite a College Recruiting juggernaut in the Lonestar State. However, one in-state rival has become a surprising College Recruiting rival and challenges for the title of the conference’s best class. Here is a look at the top Big 12 classes and recruits so far for the Class of 2012…
Top 5 Big 12 College Recruiting Classes for 2012:
1) Texas Commits – Cameron Ridley (C), Prince Ibeh (C), Javan Felix (PG), Connor Lammert (PF), Ioannis Papapetrou (SF) –While most programs have a tough time finding one true center Rick Barnes locked down two in one College Recruiting class with Ridley and Ibeh.
2) Baylor Commits – Isaiah Austin (C), LJ Rose (PG), Chad Rykhoek (C) –Scott Drew continues to attract long, skilled big men to Waco with Isaiah Austin following Perry Jones and Quincy Miller from the past two classes.
3) Oklahoma State Commits – Marcus Smart (SG), Kamari Murphy (F), Phil Forte (G) –Marcus Smart has improved his stock throughout his high school career by winning and winning and winning. Travis Ford hopes those winning ways can carry over to Stillwater.
4) Texas A&M Commits – J-Mychal Reese (PG), Alex Caruso (SG) –Perhaps even more important than landing Reese was winning the battle for his services with conference rival and longtime Big 12 powerhouse Kansas.
5) Iowa State Commits – Georges Niang (PF), Sherron Dorsey-Walker (SG), Nkereuwem Okoro (SF), Nazareth Long (PG) –Fred Hoiberg was rewarded by College Recruiting Niang before the rest of the country caught on and still landed the low post force after his huge summer breakout.
Top 10 Big 12 Impact Recruits in 2012 College Recruiting Class:
1) Marcus Smart (OSU) – Smart is a tough, physical guard who makes winning plays by outworking his opponents with the level talent to back it up.
2) Isaiah Austin (Baylor) – Austin is the most talented player entering the Big 12 in 2012. If he can learn to maximize his incredible physical gifts, NBA All Star teams are in the big man’s future.
3) Cameron Ridley (Texas) – A space eater in the post who loves to use his wide frame, Ridley projects as a big man that the Longhorns can run their offense through on the block.
4) Perry Ellis (Kansas) – After flirting with Duke and Kentucky, one of the most highly regarded players in Kansas high school history is staying home to learn from former Jayhawk Danny Manning and the rest of the Kansas staff.
5) Georges Niang (ISU) – The most underrated big in the country because he doesn’t quite pass the eye test, all Niang does is produce and he should continue to score on bigger and stronger opponents in the Big 12.
6) J-Mychal Reese (Texas A&M) – Reese is a crafty lefty with a tight crossover and a deadly mid range jumper. While he may be more combo guard than true point, he should find his role nicely for the Aggies.
7) LJ Rose (Baylor) – One of the best passers in the nation, if Rose can develop a consistent outside shot this ranking will prove to be far too low.
8) Prince Ibeh (Texas) – More raw than future teammate Ridley, Ibeh is a shot blocking force who can contribute defensively right away.
9) Javan Felix (Texas) – The next in a long line of big time point guards at Texas, Felix has been drawing favorable comparisons to former Longhorn DJ Augustin.
10) Alex Caruso (Texas A&M) – Staying home to play for the Aggies, Caruso should be one half of a formidable backcourt tandem along with J-Mychal Reese.
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Sports Recruiting Watch: Foundation class on its way
By Robbi Pickeral
As top-ranked North Carolina was preparing last week to begin what it hopes is a championship season, it was also rebuilding the base for possible titles to come.
ESPN senior national Sports Recruiting analyst Dave Telep said UNC’s 2012 class of point guard Marcus Paige, small forward J.P. Tokoto, center Joel James and power forward Brice Johnson — which it officially signed last week — reminds him of Carolina’s 2009 group, which included Dexter Strickland, John Henson, Leslie McDonald and the Wear twins (who have since transferred).
“It’s a really good class, full of a lot of really good players — but it’s more of a foundation class,’’ he said. “It bridges the gap to the following class, really sets the stage to bring in the sizzle the following year.”
Shades of 2010, when Roy Williams added Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall to the ‘09 “foundation” group, setting up a run to the Elite Eight last year — and the No. 1 ranking now?
“We have seen this before,” Telep said.
The most impactful guy, Telep predicts, will be Paige, a 6-foot ballhandler from Iowa.
“No matter how long Kendall Marshall is in town, Paige is capable of coming in and playing for North Carolina as a freshman. He’s not quite the passer that Marshall is … but he’s intelligent, a unifier, a natural scorer.”
If Marshall stays in college for three or four years, the two could play on the court together. If the sophomore were to leave early for the NBA, Paige has to skill set to step in and lead.
Johnson, a 6-9 athlete from South Carolina, can run the floor, play facing the basket, and has the biggest ceiling for improvement.
“He’s the state triple-jump champion, a long-jump champion, we’re talking about a guy with athleticism … and potentially, he’s the one in the group with the biggest payoff,’’ Telep said.
Which would be a good thing for UNC, what with starting forward Tyler Zeller graduating after this season, and junior John Henson a sure first-round draft pick, should he leave early.
James, a 6-10, 280-pounder from Florida, might be the most interesting of the group to keep an eye on this year. Telep described him as “a big tree stump” in the lane, and this marks the first season he’ll be the main focus on his high school team. How will he handle that burden?
Tokoto, meanwhile, could be the X factor of this class. The 6-6 wing from Wisconsin “has good size, plenty of athleticism,’’ Telep said. “He needs to find his sweet spot — the one thing he really does well, and do it consistently. He could end up being that super-sixth man that Danny Green was — not the shooter that Green was, but that guy who could come off the bench and give the team what it needs.”
Or more, if Barnes, who considered a jump to the NBA after last season, goes next summer.
It should be noted that the ’09 class, coming in after so many stars from the previous season’s NCAA championship team left, struggled mightily its freshman season. The team was hurt by injuries and a lack of focus, failed to jell and had to settle for an NIT tournament run.
But even if the Tar Heels lose three or four — or even five — players again to the NBA next season, Telep said the 2012 group can push UNC to the NCAA tournament in 2013.
“The expectations would need to be tempered, but … this is a pattern that has been pretty successful for UNC: compete for a championship, bring in a class that builds depth and then bring in the star power the follow season.”
And UNC already has a good start on that. Raleigh’s Isaiah Hicks, a power forward ranked No. 14 overall in the ESPNU Super 60, verbally committed to UNC in August.
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Missed chances plague Lady Cards
Women return home after failing to qualify for nationals in first round
The Lady Cards led an exciting season but couldn’t come out on top at the NJCAA District B tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. NIC lost to tenth-ranked Butler Community College 1-0 on Nov. 4 ending their season 14-2-1.
“Throughout the game I would say we had four really good chances that typically I thought we would have scored on,” said coach Dan Hogan. “For whatever reason, we just missed a little bit.”
NIC’s freshman forward Anna Valentine made the first attempted shot of the game and hit the crossbar.
Freshman forward Carissa Christensen had a scoring opportunity near the end of the half but launched the ball straight at Butler’s goalkeeper.
Sophomore forward Demi Wignot had two chances to score with 15 minutes remaining in the second half and both went wide.
“Their goalkeeper was really tall, mobile and covered a lot of space or we just hit her,” Hogan said.
The Butler CC Grizzlies delivered the only goal of the game late in the first half. That score was only the eleventh goal to be given up by the Cardinals this season.
Freshman goalkeeper Hannah Slinkard said before the tournament that the Grizzlies are “equally matched” in comparison to their team.
“We probably had about 70 percent of the possession in the game,” Hogan said. “Sports can be somewhat funny sometimes because the best team doesn’t always win.”
Despite the failed attempt to make it to nationals, NIC had an impressive record for the season. They went undefeated for 13 games before losing their first game of the season against the Colorado University Club team in Cheyenne, Wyo.
“[In] that game, we were just out of sync and weren’t communicating to one another as well,” said freshman midfielder Kellee Tilson, general studies. “I think we came off of a really big win so we were kind of not expecting it.”
Hogan has ample time before he throws the Lady Cards back on the field, but he has already started thinking about the future.
Over the winter, he plans to have the returning Lady Cards work on conditioning and strength training. He has plans to get back on the field in March once the snow melts.
With 12 cardinals graduating or moving on, he will have to recruit a half of a team to fill the ranks. He said he can’t release names but has been eyeing a few hopefuls out of the Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint areas and as far south as Boise and Salt Lake City.
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NCAA makes changes to improve athletes’ grades
By Doug Roberson
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The NCAA recently approved two measures designed to improve its athletes’ classroom performance by tying freshmen eligibility and team postseason participation to grades.
College basketball, with more reliance on true freshman than most sports, might be affected more than the others.
Effective for the 2015-16 school year, an incoming freshman will need a minimum 2.3 grade-point average in high school in order to play in college games during his or her first year. The current requirement is 2.0.
Teams also must have a four-year Academic Progress Rate average score of 930, which represents a 50-percent graduation rate, in order to compete in the postseason, including bowl games for football. There will be additional penalties, as well. This hard-line rule will be gradually phased in over the next few years. The current four-year rate is 900 for postseason eligibility.
According to the NCAA, 43.1 percent of the incoming freshmen who played men’s basketball in 2009-10 wouldn’t have qualified for Division I competition under the new GPA standard, compared to 15.6 percent of all incoming athletes. During the same time, 35.2 percent of freshman football players wouldn’t have been eligible. Those athletes still would have qualified for financial aid and been able to practice, according to the NCAA.
With the improved APR standard and penalties, 99 men’s basketball teams last year would have suffered penalties, including failing to qualify for the postseason, with Connecticut, the national champion, among them.
“It made perfectly good sense to have students successful in the classroom as well as on the court,” NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert said.
Local coaches said they are in favor of the new standards, though they pointed out that college basketball isn’t the only sport affected.
“Every college coach should remember that we work at institutes of higher learning, and that you’ve got to perform in the classroom,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said.
Meeting the APR standard has been problematic for local college basketball teams. The APR is a four-year measurement designed by the NCAA to track a student’s progress toward graduation. Students who leave school early and aren’t in good academic standing will negatively affect a team’s score. The men’s teams at Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State, for example, failed to meet the minimum standards in the past and were punished by a loss of scholarships.
Under the new academic redshirt rule, students eligible to practice — but not compete or travel — would need a 2.0 GPA in high school core courses, most of which must be completed before the player’s senior year. A student who falls between the 2.0 and 2.3 standards would still be able to receive financial aid for the first academic term. With the exception of a medical condition, he or she wouldn’t be eligible for another redshirt year.
Within that change, the NCAA also has proposed increasing the sliding scale for eligibility, citing this example: A 1000 SAT score would require a 2.5 high school core-course GPA for competition and a 2.0 high school core-course GPA for practice. The SAT score for the required 2.3 GPA hasn’t been announced. The details of the sliding scale are being finalized, according to the NCAA.
Players who meet the grade standard for practice, but not competition, must pass at least nine semester hours or eight quarter hours during their first collegiate academic term to keep their financial aid for the next academic term.
“We are supposed to be about educations, and it gives the guys as youngsters, at 14, who may not have been taking their studies seriously, a game plan that they can follow,” Tech’s Brian Gregory said.
The NCAA says the new standard is less punitive than the old “partial-qualifier” standard, which took away a year of eligibility on the back end of a student’s career unless he or she graduated within four years. The new rule allows them four more years of participation after the academic redshirt year.
“We’ve got to get to the point where we kids get prepared,” Georgia State coach Ron Hunter said. “We shouldn’t eliminate kids; we should get them prepared and a redshirt year might do that.”
It’s similar to the old NCAA rule that made all freshmen, no matter their academic history, ineligible for competition.
Those who watch the NCAA closely support the intent of the new rules.
“We’ve promoted the old standard of a first year of ineligibility to get acclimated to campus and academics,” said Jason R. Lanter, president of The Drake Group, an NCAA watchdog organization. “The way the system is set up they are not an integral part of the academic side of the university community.”
With the academic redshirt year, Hunter said he would like to see the NCAA increase the number of men’s basketball scholarships from 13 to 15. That would allow schools, in cases where an excessive number of players in a class might need the extra year to adjust academically, to have enough quality upperclassmen to play and compete.
Emmert said the NCAA will likely monitor all aspects of the academic redshirt clause closely, including whether practice and film room allowance needs to be reduced, to make it more effective.
“This is about getting young people a chance to get their sea legs under them academically,” Emmert said. “If the pressures of practice and film and weight room and all of that continue to be an obstacle, we will have to address it.”
Commissioners of local conferences and local basketball coaches, Kennesaw State coach Lewis Preston and Gregory among them, say they shouldn’t have many future issues with the APR. However, they are preparing for the new rules to ensure they graduate students and maintain postseason eligibility.
Kennesaw State this summer prepared a risk-analysis survey for each sport to give coaches a snapshot of where their teams are in regard to an SAT-to-GPA ratio.
“We’re trying to find a happy balance as to what a KSU student-athlete is,” said Steve Benton, Kennesaw State’s assistant athletic director for student-athlete success services.
How might the new standards affect recruiting? Will a coach take a chance on a student who may not be able to play as a freshman?
The coaches said they would take it on a case-by-case basis.
“The landscape is changing so much,” Fox said. “Every kid deserves an opportunity; not every kid can fit in at every school.”
Preston said he would use the risk-analysis survey, as well as sit down and talk with his athletic director and others, to ensure an athlete will be given everything necessary to succeed academically, which supports the purpose of the changes.
“[Put] a system of checks and balances in place where during that year he can be around the program and understand the whole culture of being a student-athlete, as opposed to one over the other,” Preston said.
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New Division I Men’s Basketball College Recruiting Model Posted by the NCAA
On November 15, 2011, the NCAA academics and membership affairs staff posted on the membership side of the Legislative Services Database (LSDBi) information concerning the new Division I Men’s Basketball College Recruiting Model. The information, which is organized in chart form, provides the current/previous rule and the new rule on the following areas/issues:
- College Recruiting calendar evaluations
- Communications with prospective student-athletes
- Off-campus contacts
- Official paid visits.
The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends athletics compliance staff: (1) review the College Recruiting model; and (2) incorporate the new rules in the athletics compliance manual and rules-education sessions.
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NCAA’s pay-for-play proposal has its supporters and detractors
College football seemed so easy for Robert Woods.
The bigger players and harder hits, the roaring crowds, he sailed through all of that to become an instant star at USC, catching passes by the dozen as a freshman.
It was another part of the game — a part fans don’t see — that took him by surprise. It was the peanut butter and jelly.
“You think, coming to USC, they’ll have food whenever you want but it’s really not like that,” he said. “I’ve gone four days straight of just sandwiches.”
Now a sophomore, Woods has learned that bills — rent, utilities, and phone — devour most of his monthly scholarship check, leaving only dollars a day to eat. The team feeds him dinner during the season, but the rest of the time, he says, “you’re on your own.”
This dilemma affects student-athletes nationwide. According to a 2010 study, the maximum financial aid allowed under NCAA rules can fall short of covering school and living expenses by anywhere from $200 to $10,000 a year, depending on the campus.
At USC, Athletic Director Pat Haden estimates that his athletes need another $3,300 to meet basic needs. “It doesn’t seem right,” he said. “And I think it’s a public relations nightmare.”
With the Pac-12 Conference and other major conferences set to reap billions from new television contracts, the NCAA board of directors recently announced that members will have the option of boosting aid by as much as $2,000 a year.
That makes sense to Woods, who says, “All these universities are making money off their players.”
But not everyone is thrilled with the change. Some do not believe $2,000 is enough. Others contend that larger scholarships will put a strain on small schools and shift everyone a step closer to pay-for-play.
Whenever college sports and money intersect, there are no easy answers.
EQUALITY FOR NONE
Hard times are not hard to see. All Robert Kustra has to do is step off the Boise State campus for a bite to eat.
“My students are working for minimum wage in restaurants, collecting as much in tips as they can,” the university president said. “Many of them literally have to drop out for a semester to raise money for the next semester.”
By comparison, athletes have it pretty good, he believes. Their scholarships might not cover everything, but they get tuition, books and housing. Also, academic tutors help them with schoolwork.
“How many of our regular students have a full ride?” he asked. “Where’s their extra stipend?”
Critics of the new NCAA legislation worry that growth in spending will exacerbate the so-called “arms race,” rival athletic programs scrambling to outdo each other with glitzy training facilities and enormous coaching salaries. The gap between the haves and have-nots has widened.
The NCAA has encouraged its members to vote on increased aid by conference. The big schools — the ones from the Pac-12, Big Ten, Southeastern Conference, etc. — are expected to adopt the change.
Smaller conferences with modest television deals might struggle to come up with the money, said David Ridpath, an Ohio University assistant professor and member of the watchdog Drake Group.
“Will it benefit Ohio State more than Ohio University? Yes,” Ridpath said. “Is it going to make the rich get richer and bring down the small schools? Absolutely.”
Boise State currently belongs to the small Mountain West Conference. Yet, when it comes time to vote, Kustra could be put in the uncomfortable position of supporting an increase.
The reason is simple: Over the past few seasons, his football team has beaten the odds by forcing its way onto the national stage and he does not want to give the competition a recruiting edge.
“When my coaches go into a living room and the parents compare what their student will get in the Pac-12 or the SEC,” he said, “they’re not coming to Boise State unless we give them the same thing.”
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
It was just last summer that Haden bumped into several football players outside the athletic department.
“They were literally hungry,” he said. “They asked if there was any free food on campus.”
At first, the athletic director was skeptical. He called eight or so athletes into his office — including Woods, tight end Xavier Grimble and cornerback Anthony Brown — to review their finances, comparing scholarship checks against monthly bills.
“It may have seemed like we were going out, buying clothes and things like that,” Woods said. “He could see that we weren’t.”
Instead, Haden found that things had changed radically since he was a star quarterback for the Trojans in the 1970s.
Back then, players worked summer jobs to save for the coming school year. Now, they are expected to spend that time training. With more film work and conditioning during the season, they use the rest of the year to take their hardest classes.
“Let’s just call it what it is,” said Ridpath, who refers to modern college sports as “a commercialized, para-professional enterprise.”
Much like Kustra at Boise State, the Ohio professor finds himself conflicted. He opposes increased athletics spending, yet sees that players need help.
At USC, Haden did the math and found that his athletes spent $600 to $950 a month on rent, some of them sharing rooms with teammates. After the usual bills, about $150 remained.
Five dollars a day wasn’t enough to feed young men and women who worked out constantly, especially football linemen accustomed to consuming 5,000 or more calories.
NCAA rules prohibited Haden from giving them food. And he estimated that almost a third of his athletes received no help from home.
“Those are the kids I worry about most,” he said. “We have to do what’s right.”
When Sidney McPhee agreed to help the NCAA assess athletic scholarships, it felt like familiar territory.
McPhee is president of Middle Tennessee State, where 84% of students receive some type of financial help. He says university administrators frequently review academic scholarships “to see how competitive we are with regards to attracting the best and the brightest. In many cases, we make adjustments up.”
It surprised him that the NCAA had not reviewed its aid policies “for decades.”
But where sports are involved, emotions can muddy the discussion and officials now find themselves answering questions that have nothing to do with dollars and cents.
Asked about competitive balance, NCAA President Mark Emmert cited a study by the respected Knight Commission that showed Division I schools vary widely in how much they spend per athlete, the numbers ranging from approximately $40,000 to $160,000 a year.
An extra $2,000 in financial aid, Emmert said, “is not going to have any impact.”
He also dismissed concerns that college sports are moving closer to professionalism.
“The dividing line on pay-for-play is very sharp and clear,” Emmert said. “This is about trying to cover more of the legitimate expenses.”
In addition to increased aid, the NCAA recently adopted legislation that toughens academic standards for student-athletes and allows universities to offer multiple-year scholarships, a departure from the traditional year-by-year model.
McPhee put the money issue in simple terms.
“This is not unusual in higher education,” he said. “We do it quite regularly on our campuses.”
BETTER THAN NOTHING
Before he gets started, Jeff Locke wants to make something clear.
As a punter on the UCLA football team — and an economics major — he appreciates the value of his athletic scholarship.
“I’ll be the first to tell you that my future earning potential has gone up ten-fold by getting a UCLA degree,” he said. “I know how blessed I am.”
But Locke got what he describes as “a wake-up call” not long ago. Running out of money at the end of the month, he looked around to see other teammates in the same predicament.
“This is a multibillion-dollar industry,” he said, “and these players don’t have enough to buy groceries.”
The redshirt junior now works as an intern for the National College Players Assn., a grass-roots organization created by former Bruins linebacker Ramogi Huma. It was the NCPA, with help from Ithaca College in New York, that conducted the 2010 study on scholarship shortfalls.
The group recently presented the NCAA with a petition signed by more than 300 college athletes asking for a mandatory — not voluntary — $3,200 boost in financial aid.
That figure is slightly less than UCLA’s estimated $3,443 shortfall. Locke contends the NCAA failed to sufficiently address the problem.
“They need to understand,” he said. “That still leaves 100 schools out there with players not receiving the full cost of attendance.”
Across town, at USC, Woods knows an additional $2,000 will not cover all of his expenses. But he views the situation from a slightly different angle.
At this point, he will take whatever he can get.
“The money will make a big difference,” he said. “We can eat.”
— David Wharton
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College sports recruitment panel prepares student-athletes
Exactly what does it take to be recruited as a college student-athlete? Serra Head Baseball Coach Craig Gianinno hosted an informative panel on November 17 to provide a deeper understanding of the college sports recruitment process. A panel of inspirational college coaches answered important questions from Serra students and parents as they explored a variety of topics. Serra theology teacher Ed Taylor emceed the event.
“This is one of the most important decisions a young person will make in his life,” Gianinno said. “College Sports Recruiting is about building relationships. It does not happen overnight, and it consists of a number of different situations in which a potential college recruit communicates with a college coach. Our coaching staff cares about our student-athletes, and we want them to have every opportunity to fulfill their dreams at the next level.”
Panelists included San Francisco State University Head Coach Mike Cummins, Menlo College Head Baseball Coach Stefan McGovern, Menlo College Assistant Coach David Tufo, University of San Francisco Associate Head Baseball Coach Greg Moore, College of San Mateo Head Baseball Coach Doug Williams, Baltimore Orioles left-handed pitcher Chris Petrini and Serra alumnus Tony Renda ’09. Since the panelists represented different levels of baseball programs (NCAA Division 1, NCAA Division 2, NAIA and CCCAA), they offered varied perspectives. Yet they all agreed on one thing: Not all programs suit all student-athletes.
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