LOI Question

<p>I'm not sure if anyone on this board has experience with the recruiting process for non-NCAA sports, but I have a question. My son, who graduates in `11, is being recruited by several schools for a sport that is both varsity and scholarship, but non-NCAA. He has one school particularly interested that wants him to sign an LOI this week to quote "take him off the market" - coach's exact words. They are prepared to throw him a dollar figure now, but have said they'll have to "firm up" scholarship money/ financial aid next spring.</p>

<p>My (and my son's) concerns are as follows - </p>

<li><p>This is not his #1 choice school, primarily for academic and location reasons - Their avg ACT is a 22, my son scored a 34. The school is small and 35 minutes from home...</p></li>
<li><p>This is a new team - my son's freshman year will be the team's 3rd season. My son described their current roster as a "bit of a smorgasbord". He likes both the coach and the guys he knows who play there, but they're not a well-established, high-ranking team.</p></li>
<li><p>When we went on the tour, he didn't "love" the school.</p></li>
<li><p>There are much more highly respected schools (i.e. 9x Div I national champs) in his sport that have indicated they're "definitely intending to offer him a scholarship". They do not sign athletes this early though, and their athletic aid is packaged as part of the school's financial aid package which the student receives in the spring after acceptance.</p></li>
<li><p>He actually liked the #1 school in his sport (see #4) much more than the school trying to sign him this week, but it, too, has an avg ACT of 21 and is small - though an hour fifteen from home. As a mom, I'm concerned about his grad school admission success coming from either of these "4th tier" schools.</p></li>
<li><p>Given their prominence in the sport, the better (athletically) of the two schools rosters about 40 kids on the team as opposed to the 8-10 guys on the new team. The new team is hoping to build their program around my son. This may mean much more "playing time" at the lesser school, although not necessarily. It will, however, likely mean more money. </p></li>
<li><p>Both schools are in the $30m range for Tuition & R/B. My son will get a $9000 in merit aid automatically at the school trying to sign him now. The rest will have to be scholarship, grants or loans. The other school doesn't publish it's awards, so he could get anywhere from nothing to full tuition. Given how far above their average my son's stats are (3.8 + 34), he should get something but I don't know what.</p></li>
<li><p>There are other schools that only offer his sport as club (not varsity) that are much higher on his list academically. The problem is, without the athletic aid I don't believe they're within reach financially.</p></li>

<p>I am sorry this is so long, but we are really at a loss as to what to do. If he declines to sign, the coach has indicated the same amount of money will not be there for him later on if he changes his mind. Without significant financial aid, my son will not be able to attend either school. I am trying to avoid the "bird in the hand" knee jerk reaction, and help my son decide what is in his best interests. I know you guys can't make up our minds for us, but any general impressions about the situation?</p>

<p>Thanks, and again - sorry so long.</p>

<p>Hopefully some with lots of experience can help</p>

<p>However --remember its not even July 1... is this "legal" according the NCAA.
Even if the sport isn't NCAA - I think the schools have to abide by certain rules...</p>

<p>You have listed list more reasons to NOT sign right now than to sign...</p>

<p>Search this athletes forum--there are other threads about LOI, and things that didn't work. I'd pm some of the more reliable posters and ask them to read your post/chime in...
with a pm--they will get an email/flag and see it sooner...
since its summer and you are on the clock under this coaches pressure--you might get faster help that way.</p>

<p>Hope that helps</p>

<p>^^^I agree with fogfog - you have listed more reasons to be wary than to be committed. With your son's high academic and athletic ability, I almost feel as if the risk you take by not signing could be worth it - but of course, none of us are you, and none of us are in your exact situation. Great, but tough - very flattering and exciting to feel so wanted, yet that is tempered by not knowing which way to turn. Good luck, and I look forward to you hearing from people with real experience in this!</p>

<p>FogFog - thanks for the reply! Nope, the NCAA has zero oversight regarding this sport - the USA NGB (national governing body) is in charge of the sport (as if USATF was in charge of collegiate track and field instead of the NCAA) There are no recruiting guidelines, and therefore no violations. It's wide open.</p>

<p>My list wasn't intended to be a pro v con list. There are plenty of pros - the biggest of which is getting paid to play your sport while receiving a college education. My son likes the coach and the team members that he knows. This is a fairly popular school around here, and respected locally, though not too well known outside the region. It's small (1500) and conservative - both of which suit my son who isn't a party type or a fan of huge schools. He doesn't want to go really far away to school, although 35 minutes may be a bit close.
They have a fairly good med school admission rate, and are in the process of opening their own medical school, which should be operational before my son graduates from college. And, as far as we can tell, his out-of-pocket cost to attend will be rather low. </p>

<p>So, there are lots of good points - we need help addressing the concerns. I think my son is just nervous about making a commitment this early, when he's really just starting to put together the schools he's interested in. But he's also afraid to let an opportunity pass - what if the "intending to offer a scholarship" school doesn't?</p>

<p>Also, we're not familiar with the ins and outs regarding letters of intent for non-NCAA sports. If the financial package doesn't end up acceptable, can you get out of the LOI? Since this is non-NCAA, is the LOI even binding? These are the things I don't know...</p>

<p>Mayhew -thanks! We cross posted, but I agree that he feels very flattered, although I think he's smart enough to know that feeling shouldn't guide his decision. We meet with the coach to get the "offer" this week. Hopefully he can answer some of these questions, too.</p>

<p>How many other colleges, beside the two you reference above, offer this sport competitively - where he could qualify for both athletic & merit scholarship? If there will be many other options for your son, and he is that good at his sport, I would be hesitant to jump at the first offer....especially if he feels he would be 'settling.' <em>saying this from a logistics perspective...no first hand experience</em></p>

<p>The LOI is an instrument of the NCAA. If this sport is not governed by the NCAA, I would do some research on the governing body'd website about their recruiting guidelines. If there are none, then who would enforce the Letter of Intent that the coach is mentioning. What happens if the deal falls through. Too many what ifs for my comfort level, especially this early in the game. What are the other coaches saying about recruiting timelines?</p>

<p>Fishymom - I thought the NLI was exclusive to NCAA, too... and wondered about the binding nature of whatever contract was being proposed.</p>

<p>JCC what does his "gut instinct" say about the feel of the school overall and the coach?
DON'T sign early just because the coach is pressuring him. They are trying to exploit your inexperience with the recruiting process. This could be a bad decision if it's just made in haste. </p>

<p>Keep us posted as to the outcome- Good Luck!</p>

<p>OP- Have you tried filling out the financial aid estimator which some colleges have on their website? You might indeed be eligible for FA.</p>

<p>I agree with the poster above^^ regarding this coach's LOI. If it is not under the NCAA rules, it sounds like it is non-enforceable on both ends. Tread carefully.</p>

<p>Ask your son how he would feel if he is injured and cannot play his sport at that school--would he be content? Especially with his high ACT in comparison to that school's average, he might always regret settling for a 4th tier school.</p>

<p>I suspect the coach is playing a game of chicken, and would still offer your son the same, if not more money later when he has looked at other schools. Is there a decent state school where he will be eligible for some merit money, as a back-up plan?</p>

<p>Sorry for the delay in replying, but thanks, everyone for the responses! I'll try to answer most, if not all, of the questions. Apologies in advance for the length.
There are, currently, about 10 schools nationally that offer his sport on varsity level. There are a few more that offer some scholarships, such as MIT, but the sport still has club status there.<br>
6 of the schools are within an easy 4 hours of our home. All 10 schools are very mid level academically, with the highest avg ACT in the bunch being roughly 24. I try to look at it realistically, understanding that is still above the nat'l avg, although not up to "CC standards".<br>
In a vacuum, his #1 school choice would be Furman. At $46m a year, that is just not doable for us. And while they have his sport, it's at the club level with no scholarships available. His only option there would be to apply for an ROTC scholarship, which he's good with, but he really just wants to play his sport.
He honestly liked the "feel" of the school mentioned above with the better team more than the school currently offering him the scholarship. The coach of the other school said he intends to offer my son a scholarship, but the sheer size of their team tells me it won't be anywhere close to enough money to make the school affordable. (5 scholarships / 40 on the roster). And while my son is good, this school is the reigning 9x Div 1 Nat'l champions. Everyone there is good. I'm guessing those 5 scholarships are spread pretty thin.
On the other hand, the school currently offering him the scholarship is in the top 25 of the USNWR rankings for Baccalaureate colleges - so while small and neither a true liberal arts nor a research university, it isn't a complete waste. They have a new team with only 8 guys rostered, and my son going in would be one of (if not the) top guys and could make an immediate impact. They've had his picture on their team website for a year. They want him, and have since he started in the sport 2 years ago.
My son is smart, but not particularly academically ambitious - certainly not an "intellectual". He does well in his classes and tests very well - hence the 34 ACT with no prep at all. And while his ultimate goal is medical school, he would be completely out of place at a high-stress, competitive place like Johns Hopkins. His feeling regarding the "4th-tier" schools recruiting him is he can come out at or close to debt-free, with a high GPA, hopefully do well on the MCAT and take his shot at medical school. He could very well be right. I'm not sure.
As far as whether or not he would choose this school were it not for his sport....the answer is probably not. But again, without significant financial aid, he won't be choosing any school other than the local directional U.
I think the thought of being able to sign now and get it over with is very attractive to him from a less-stressful senior year perspective, as well as a financial perspective. What I'm looking for, I suppose, are red flags that we haven't considered. The fact that the LOI wouldn't be binding for either party hadn't crossed my mind. We will certainly address that with the coach this weekend. Anything else you folks can think of?
We meet on Sunday and I'd like to be as prepared as possible.</p>

<p>Again, sorry for the length, but thanks for being such a resource!</p>