Some college programs use questionable tactics

Published 3:53 am Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tyler and Justin were football studs in high school. Both were first team all-state selections who led their teams deep into the playoffs each season during their high school careers.

Justin, considered a multi-tool, five-star athlete, was recruited by Alabama. Tyler, motivated but lacking in size, walked on at Ohio State.

When Justin signed his letter of intent to play for the Crimson Tide, the recruiter promised him playing time with a winning program. Justin bought into that dream, accepted a scholarship from the university, and aimed to make his family proud.

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He was excited to be considered a future cog in a college football juggernaut.

Tyler didn’t receive offers from the big-name schools. He was courted by smaller programs, but followed his dream of being a Buckeye.

He was determined to prove wrong all of the recruiters who said he couldn’t play division I football.

Both players worked hard to demonstrate their worthiness to their teams.

Two years later, Justin was struggling to keep pace with the other athletes within his organization. A newly “signed” class of players included several stud athletes with talents that matched or exceeded his….several of whom played his position.

He didn’t keep up much with the NCAA rules, and much more importantly, the loopholes, regarding scholarships. He didn’t realize that his school passed out letters of intent like a McDonald’s passes out French fries.

Although he had a scholarship and did all that was asked of him, Justin’s stock with the ‘Bama coaches fell dramatically.

Eventually, he was questioned about the “D” average he was carrying mid-semester in molecular science class, despite his overall 3.0 grade point average.

Since the university valued education over athletics, they told him, his failure to maintain their academic standards in this class warranted a dismissal of his scholarship.

“Justin has been a valuable asset to our team and we grieve the loss of such a fine individual,” the coach said publicly when Justin was sent packing. “We wish him nothing but the best.”

In the meantime, Tyler was still proving himself to the OSU coaches, as well as his fellow teammates, as a scout team player.

His determination eventually earned him some playing time, which culminated in his being selected as a co-starter at fullback his senior season. He would go on to play on a national stage for the championship of college football.

A book would be written about the small town guy whose desire proved that dreams are always within our reach if we keep reaching.

Justin watched the championship game at a bar, along with his fellow construction workers, following a twelve hour shift. He stumbled back to his hotel room and passed out on the semi-clean linen.

Rules are not currently in place by the NCAA to ban over-signing of recruits, which leads to many high school athletes being suckered into a business that kills their self-esteem.

Southeastern Conference (SEC) schools, as well as many other programs throughout the nation, “sign” many more kids yearly than their maximum number of scholarships can support. As a result, many talented kids are fooled into thinking they have a future with these universities.

And once they sign, they are obligated to their school of choice. The school, however, isn’t obligated to them…..thanks to the loopholes.

Later, when a better option for the football team comes along, these former “prized prospects” are discarded based on “academic,” “health,” or “conduct” reasons.

Of course, this boils down to winning…..which, further heated, is money.

Could Tyler have played for most SEC schools? Would the heart and drive he displayed at Ohio State have been rewarded at Alabama, Florida, or LSU?


Walk-ons don’t exist at these schools. These programs release multi-talented players by the dozen every year….even after sitting in their living rooms and promising them the moon.

But if you look at the record, teams like Ohio State and Notre Dame don’t practice this type of deceit.

Historically, teams like the Buckeyes and Irish, as well as many other teams from various conferences, do not abuse this loophole and pass out more letters of intent to high school kids than they have scholarships to cover.

Now, check the records of most of the SEC powerhouses when it comes to making false promises.

What the “over-signing” schools do isn’t illegal, yet, by NCAA guidelines, but the argument can be made that it isn’t moral.

The National Enquirer isn’t illegal either.

To read more about this tactic, visit .

Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at