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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Signing Day

It's finally here, the first day of the Early Signing Period in NCAA Division I & II Tennis (and many other sports). I've gotten a few emails already; Texas A & M is understandably eager to get the word out on their signings of Austin Krajicek and Wil Spencer; and Bryan Shelton of Georgia Tech also has two blue chips he is now allowed to comment on publicly. The Fighting Illini are also announcing two five-star signings for the women's team today. While you're at the Illinois site, check out their coverage of the Champaign Challenger. Ryan Rowe, with his win this evening over Brian Wilson, has reached the quarterfinals and will earn 14 ATP points, nearly three times as many as the 5 that currently have him ranked 1143.

Although I'm hardly an unbiased observer as a regular contributor, I really appreciate what The Tennis Recruiting Network has done for college tennis in providing a ranking system. It gives all these press releases a common source for rating players and it is rare now, just over two years after the site was launched, to see any school or media article that doesn't use it as a reference point. It has given college tennis recruiting the same language as that of the major revenue sports, and that is a positive step in keeping college tennis programs viable.

Okay, so what is it that everyone is signing? It's a National Letter of Intent, and if you're interested, it can be found here. The primary benefit to the student-athlete seems to be that they know what they'll be getting in athletic aid their first academic year, and they can't be recruited anymore. But here's an interesting sentence from the text. "If the conditions stated on the financial aid offer are not met, this NLI shall be declared null and void." So the school doesn't come through with the money and all the recruit gets is a chance to do the process all over again, when most of the scholarships (especially for boys) will be taken? Maybe I'm reading that wrong, but it doesn't sound like the school has much to lose. Somebody better comes along in April, you don't give the November signee as much as you said you would and voila, you're out of the first contract. And the signee still has to get into school, has to stay if the coach leaves, etc., etc. It seems like one party is assuming most of the risk, and it isn't the school.

6 comments:

D1 Tennis Player said...

The way I understand it, once a player signs that letter of intent, the school is required to give him that money for a year, regardless of extenuating circumstances. It is a binding contractual agreement between the player and the school for 1 year.

The interesting thing is this: it is only for 1 year at a time. A scholarship can be taken away after a year, but not before. I have a friend who played for a D1 school, and on the first week, fell and broke his wrist. He was out for about 8 months with rehab and stuff. He still received the money he was promised, but he hardly played.

Austin said...

Does anyone know why Scott Lipsky and David Martin haven't been playing dubs with each other the last few weeks? They were finally making it on the tour and now are playing with different people? I dont get it.

Longhorn said...

It says the Texas A & M release came out on Tuesday. You are not allowed to release anything to the press until you have received the actual NLI's from the player. Players are not allowed to sign until after 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, so they couldn't have faxed it to the school on Tuesday. Kind of fishy...

marc said...

the way I read the NLI language is that it is meant to protect the player; i.e. if the school does not live up to its end of the NLI (which is essentially a contract) the player is free to go elsewhere and no longer bound to attend/play for that school if the school has broken that contract by not delivering on the agreed upon terms.
there are ways that the player can break the contract but injury (while playing) is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Longhorn is right and there are comments by Denton posted on the 13th which is a violation. Someone messed up but nothing will come of it. Cheating in college tennis is rampant and this is a drop in the bucket.

Anonymous said...

A coach is within their rights to cut any player or take away their scholarship money at the end of the year if they think they've recruited someone better who can replace the original player. Even if they don't take the scholarship away completely, they may offer only a partial scholarship instead of what could have been a full one.

That's why I think it's too much for the coaches to be complaining about player transfers. If the coach has the power to withdraw, without provocation (as a result of the player's behaviour, academic or sporting results), financial support from the player and not be penalised, the player must have the same right to withdraw their services from the coach and not be liable for any penalties.