Want Your Middle School Child Committing to a College? …. Why?

What does making a committment mean? Legally speaking – nothing.

KeepPlayingBaseball.org (Click For Full Website) writes it this way:

“A verbal commitment is a gentleman’s agreement between a recruit and a coach that states that the recruit will attend that school on a prearranged financial award. As a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, the deal is only as good as the word of the two parties involved. Legally, it is a non-binding verbal agreement with no guarantees, regardless of the terms that both sides arrange. No matter what a coach says, when push comes to shove, there is nothing legally holding the deal in place. A program is only obligated to honor the agreement once a recruit has signed a written financial agreement or National Letter of Intent (NLI) during his senior year of high school.”

The “verbal” as includes posting it on any social media platform. The post almost always include words like “blessed” or “humble” when they have “committed to University of …. “.

If you have recently watched the Little League World Series or College Baseball then there’s a good chance you have heard Kyle Peterson speak. His voice is well-known in the baseball world because he is generally considered one of the best baseball broadcasters/commentators on TV. In my opinion, he is the best on TV at helping explain the game and at relating it playing level.

If you don’t know who Kyle Peterson is, Wikipedia has this: Peterson was drafted by the Brewers as the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 1997 MLB Draft after a collegiate career at Stanford University. He made his major league debut in 1999. After that season, he did not again play in the majors until 2001. He retired from the game after 2002. Upon retirement, Peterson joined ESPN as an analyst on College, Major League and Little League events. Since 2003, Peterson has covered the College World SeriesLittle League World Series, and Major League playoffs. Peterson now works as an analyst for the SEC Network.

Just to be clear, Kyle Peterson is not a casual baseball fan or just a dad of a youth player. Not only is he former college and pro player but also currently actively involved in the college baseball community. Below are a couple of statements he made recently about an 8th grader who is committed to Mississippi State University.

“My son is this age. This hits home. We are talking about where to go to high school, not college. It’s not right, at all, to ask a 14-year-old to commit to a college. Before he’s in high school. I hate rules but it’s time to tighten this up. Now!”

“I don’t know (players name), but his graduation year says he’s in 8th grade. He’s not even in high school yet. We need to change the system folks. We are really asking kids in middle school to commit to college? It’s not right for kids. At all!”

Here are some quotes from a Baseball America (Full Article) article written in 2017:

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Texas Christian coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “The more competitive that college baseball becomes, the more money that’s invested—which makes the fragility of jobs increased at the high-end programs—that just pushes the envelope on everything. That doesn’t make it right—it just is what it is.”

“I think what we’re doing at this point is insane,” UC Santa Barbara coach Andrew Checketts said. “I find it hard to believe that 15-year-olds are mature enough, have been exposed to enough things to make major, life-changing decisions like where you go to school.”

“Common sense has to prevail,” Vanderbilt pitching coach Scott Brown said. “People on the outside (of college baseball) can’t believe recruitment has gotten to that level where it has led to these issues.”

KeepPlayingBaseball.org list 4 things in making the case against early commitments:

  1. Have all the financial, academic, and athletic info you need to make a well-informed decision before verbally committing.
  2. A lot can change. The longer you are verbally committed before you sign your NLI (National Letter of Intent – a legally binding document that includes scholarship offer), the longer there is for circumstances to change (your interests, coaching staff, direction of a program, etc.).
  3. You can be sure that teams are continuing to recruit and look for players after your commitment. Meanwhile, you stop searching for schools and other schools stop paying close attention to you.
  4. There is a double standard when it comes to verbal commitments. Players who de-commit are often labeled as having character flaws or being unreliable.

The NCAA adopted a new rule in 2018. From NCAA’s website, it states, “For student-athletes in sports other than football and basketball, official visits now can begin Sept. 1 of a prospect’s junior year in high school instead of the first day of classes for senior year.” This impacts official recruiting contact and visits – not verbal or written commitments. In the explanation of this 2018 rule changes, the NCAA goes on to say, “They are considered a first step toward regulating a recruiting process that can begin in middle school — and sometimes earlier. The Student-Athlete Experience Committee will continue to examine the recruiting environment, with communications (telephone, email, text), verbal and written offers, and off-campus contacts on the agenda for the next phase.”

Given all this information, if the parent of a current middle school child wants or allows the child to commit to a college, I’ll politely ask the question again … Why?


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