Baxter’s Blitz

Recruiting: Grades will have their say

Signing day doesn’t always mean a done deal

scvarsity@sc.rr.comFebruary 4, 2013 

THE CHRISTMAS day for recruiting fans is less than 72 hours away, and it is becoming more glitter than I care to watch.

Thanks to ESPN, we are now the witnesses to news conferences, dramatic flipping of commitments, and the standard “hat” trick. But the reality is that the rosters we will look at in August could look very different than those “tentative” rosters we will see signing day.

The reason for that is something the kids don’t like talking about: the “A” word, academics.

Student-athletes are not officially accepted into a school and put on a fall roster until they are cleared academically by the NCAA clearing house, and the school compliance office verifies it. In many cases, that clearance doesn’t come until after June 7, the last ACT test date allowed to count toward eligibility.

Some players would like to think the process is over, that they’re on their way to college, once they’ve pulled the “hat trick” this Wednesday. But some know they have a long way to go in the classroom before they make a roster.

Players all over the country are locked into ACT prep courses late at night, trying to squeeze one or two more points out of the standardized test. Others are locked into night classes, making up for a bad grade and hoping to clean up that messy transcript, which is something that the NCAA is putting a slam on beginning with the Class of 2016, this year’s high school freshmen.

Ten of the required 16 core courses will have to be completed prior to their senior year, none of which can be repeated for grade change after the beginning of the seventh semester. So, no more “cramming” and making up for “goofing off” during your first two years of school.

Colleges continue to offer scholarshhips to kids knowing they may not qualify academically. Why? For one, colleges can orally offer scholarships to anyone, knowing that legally those offers mean nothing.

Plus, colleges are offering players earlier because they don’t want to be out-recruited. The end result: Colleges are offering kids who may be behind in school or have little chance of being academic qualifiers.

So, recruiting fans, as much as I hate to tell you, that “gift” you unwrap on Wednesday could be swiped from you before the season starts. Oh, the show will still be entertaining with live updates, news conferences, and hat tricks.

But don’t get your hopes up just yet. The name on that dotted line means nothing until the NCAA says it does.

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