NCAA Verbal Commitment Rule Changes Discussed

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At this weekend American Hockey Coaches Association meetings several rule changes are now being discussed.  One in particular is the state of “verbal commitments” to NCAA programs.

A “verbal commitment” has been used by players, and programs as their notice of intent to play for and attend a certain NCAA institution.  Over the course of the last few years, many programs have become frustrated with how the verbal commitment has been used.

Most players and parents do not understand that a “verbal commitment” is not binding.  There is no written rule on verbal commitments, it is simply a “gentlemen’s agreement” between programs that keeps programs from talking to players that have verbally committed to another program.

Because players develop at differing rates, many programs are not happy with the “verbal commitment” handshake agreement any longer.  The argument is that if a 16 year old player verbally commits to a program, and a larger program was interested in the player but wanted to follow his development for another year or two, that the larger program has been denied the opportunity to do so.

Players and parents tend to jump at a commitment because its either bragging rights or they hit the panic button without knowing other programs are interested, but are not ready to commit yet.

With the explosion of junior hockey in recent years it is impossible for NCAA programs to track and scout all players unless they have time to do so.  Smaller institutions have allegedly been telling recruits that if they do not commit to them they may not find another commitment, or that they will look at someone else.

It is important to note, that the only commitment that is actually binding upon the player is a National Letter of Intent written commitment.  That is when scholarship terms are outlined and when the player becomes that programs official recruit.

While this item was discussed, the handshake agreement remains in place, for now.

Joe Hughes