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NCAA Verbal Commitment The Purpose And Value

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NCAA Verbal Commitment The Purpose And Value November 28, 2012 7:49 AM

I cant tell you how many times a week the discussion of NCAA verbal commitments comes up with parents, players and coaches. Taking a stab at it though I would say I spend about 10 hours a week explaining verbal commitments, why teams and player make them, and what the purpose is.

The fact is that a verbal commitment to an NCAA hockey program is not worth too much. Sorry to put it so plainly, but a verbal commitment is not the same as signing a National Letter of Intent.

The NCAA says this:

Verbal commitment. This phrase is used to describe a collegebound student-athlete’s commitment to a school before he or she signs (or is able to sign) a National Letter of Intent. A collegebound student-athlete can announce a verbal commitment at any time. While verbal commitments have become very
popular for both college-bound student-athletes and coaches, this "commitment" is NOT binding on either the college-bound student-athlete or the college or university. Only the signing of the National Letter of Intent accompanied by a financial aid agreement is binding on both parties.

Is it good to get a verbal commitment? Of course it is, and I wouldnt have a player turn one down if they were offered one.

There are several things people need to know about verbal commitments though that most know nothing about.

The reasons schools give verbal commitments are pretty cut and dry. They want to get a player to commit to attending their school when they see upside in a player. Makes sense right? So, schools stack up their commits and gradually sign letters of intent to those that continue to develop.

The real purpose behind verbal commitments though is one that many have forgotten.

Verbal commitments were designed and developed as a recruiting tool in order to make a players intentions clear when they want to play NCAA hockey. Verbal commitments are designed to keep the Major Junior Hockey Leagues in Canada from drafting these players. If a player commits to an NCAA program, 9 times out of 10 Major Junior will back off.

NCAA Coaches have a gentlemans agreement that basically says once a player gives a verbal commitment to a program that other NCAA coaches will not go after that recruit. This gentlemans agreement is almost always honored by coaches.

The problem with a verbal commitment for some players is simple and creates a harsh reality when it happens. What happens when the player doesnt develop the way everyone thought he would? What happens when the "verbal commitment" if pulled from a player who may be in his last year of junior hockey?

Players and parents hang their hats on verbal commitments all the time. Unfortuantely, hanging the hat can sometimes make a player lazy or give them a sense of entitlement.

We all hear about when a player and school make a verbal commitment to each other. Its great news and it is what readers like to read. What we dont hear about is when that verbal commitment is not renewed, or does not turn into a National Letter of Intent. Unfortunately, it happens, and it happens more often than the average person would believe.

The moral of the story? Just because you get a verbal commitment from a school does not mean that you have made it. Understanding why verbal commitments are made is an important part of preparing for NCAA hockey. Understanding that it is not the same as an NLI, should keep you as an athlete pushing yourself every season to become the best that you can be.

Dont let a verbal commitment go to your head, you havent made it yet.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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