Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why High School Athletes Should Commit to Schools and not Coaches

Just last week, John Calipari received a ridiculously large contract to become Head Coach at the University of Kentucky. I believe it is somewhere in the neighborhood of eight years and $31 million. That's almost $4 million a year to be a head coach. A bit much? Well, not if you ask boosters at pretty much any SEC school, but that's an issue for another post.

The domino effect at Calipari's old school (Memphis) is being felt immediately as well as tremendously. We've already seen DeMarcus Cousins, the #4 recruit on the ESPNU Top 100, change his commitment from Memphis to Kentucky. Another ESPNU Top 100 prospect, guard Nolan Dennis has re-opened his commitment and will look at other schools. The Wildcats are also potentially losing a recruit, as Super 60 recruit Dominique Ferguson re-opened his commitment as well.

My point is that high school athletes really need to evaluate their commitments. They also need to realize that the same coaches who are chasing after them for commitments never signed a commitment. Sure they signed a contract to coach at the school, but that doesn't seem to mean much in modern times. Calipari easily had one of the most talented teams in the country last year and was able to lead Memphis to a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They are in Conference USA, which is slightly below the BCS conferences. It means that they will almost always be in the hunt for a conference title, barring sanctions or something of the like. Calipari gave up a solid job at a cushy school for the rigors and extreme pressures of the SEC and Kentucky. Like he said, they don't have banners for anything BUT national championships.

Now the student-athletes that are at Memphis are in a very precarious position. They could transfer to another school, but they would more than likely have to sit out that next year. Who knows, that coach could end up leaving too! The best-case scenario if they stay is that they like the new coach and everything goes well. Worst-case is that he is the exact opposite of the coach you had and expected. He runs the team completely different, on the court/field and off. What are you supposed to do?

I've often heard that high school athletes should commit to the school and not the coach. I used to think why? The coach is one of the most important piece of the puzzle when choosing a school. He is your father figure when you're home. All of this is true, but just like fathers can leave you in real life, so they can do in the cut-throat business world of NCAA athletics.

What makes this issue so important is the fact that it doesn't just apply to the major college sports. I'm pretty sure a softball or tennis player will feel the impact if they have to deal with a new coach when they committed to a different one.

For any high school athlete that may read this:

Take a hard look at the atmosphere of the campus, obviously you should look at the academics to make sure they are in line with what you want to do. Make sure you have intentions of playing right away or redshirting and getting stronger and faster in that year. You should take a really really hard look at the assistant coaches for a few reasons. First, you will be around them way more than the head coach so if you don't like them the team may not be meant for you. Second, one of those assistant coaches could end up being the top guy if the head coach takes another job.

It happened to me while I was here at JU (except the coach didn't take another job, he was fired), and I believe that is one of the reasons that I don't play football anymore. It is hard to get that to happen, given my true love for the sport. It just goes to show it can happen anywhere, from the SEC to the PFL.

No comments:

Post a Comment