Wednesday, January 20, 2010
A Little Too Early?
RT Staff Note: The following is a letter to Rob Bruno of NORCAL Baseball, one of the top College Development Youth Programs in the country. The letter is from a prominent coach at a major baseball powerhouse. I won't spoil who it is until you read the letter and see his sign off.
For the past month I have received numerous phone calls from high school coaches seeking my opinion on their student / athlete making a “early verbal commit”. If I may, I would like to give you my thoughts.
In a nutshell I think where we are headed is TRAGIC! Here is why.
** I think all of us would agree, that a student-athlete should decide which college to attend because that university answers HIS academic, baseball, economic, and social needs better than any other college.
**How can an student / athlete determine at this time what his academic skills will be two to three years from now? Are the last two to three years of high school academics of no value in determining what academic challenge he should take on? (What a slap on the face to high school education if that is the case.) As he grows older, hopefully he will begin to take more difficult courses.
How will he perform in a more challenging academic environment? In my 34 years of coaching I have seen many students become more motivated or less motivated in the classroom as they move through their high school careers. Which one will he be?
** He doesn’t even know how you will score on the National tests (SAT or ACT) that are required before you can be formally admitted to a university. And yet these same schools are going to tell the athlete’s families how important academics are at their school.
Just a little hypocritical.
** He doesn’t know how much your baseball skills will develop. No one does that far out. Major League baseball spends on average over 10 million dollars per team to figure out who they should draft. Do you know what their success rate is for a first round draft pick to play a one day in the Major Leagues? Right at 50%!
** It will be 2- 3 years from now that he will play his first pitch for the college he selects. TWO-THREE YEARS!! Go back, to where his baseball skills were 3 years, and then realize that in all likelihood his baseball skills will even improve more for these next two-three years then they have in his previous two-three years. No one knows how good he will be at 19-21 years of age. If they knew for sure, the Yankees would be willing to pay that person lots of money!
** Will he socially like the same things in college that he enjoys now? Will his social behaviors be the same as they are now? Right now this athlete’s existence is measured by how he performs athletically. He, like you and I at the same age, could not image life without sport. But boy would our thoughts be different now! As he matures, his interests in life will change.
** The recruiting process is FUN! He has put all this time and effort into his academics and baseball development. He needs to REAP THE REWARDS of those efforts. How can a student-athlete know at this point in time, which colleges will be interested in recruiting him?
The answer is he can’t. I guarantee there are many schools that don’t even know he exists yet.
** A lot can happen to coaching staffs over a period of one year let alone three years. No one knows what health issues may arise. Less than a month ago Coach Pat Murphy resigned at ASU. If the main reason a player signed with ASU was to play for Coach Murphy, that player is now hugely disappointed.
** The real reason one decides now is “fear”. Fear that is he doesn’t act now the offer will go away. If your player is really a “DUDE”, his problem will not be if there is a school out there who will offer me a baseball scholarship, but how does he narrow down his list of which schools to consider.
** I truly believe these young kids and their families are so venerable that if you gave any of the top 100 college baseball coaches one hour in their living room that at the end of that hour they would be willing to sign with that school. We are paid to be salesman, and we don’t survive if we can’t sell our product. The athlete cannot know everything they need to know at this time to make a totally educated decision.
** I fear that this generation is very “short-sighted”. I firmly believe that with all the out-sourcing that we do now in the United States, that 8% unemployment is going to be the norm. Literally millions of people will be seeking employment. Couple that fact, with the fact that 40% of our work force is now over -qualified for the jobs they currently have. Your student-athlete will face global competition for jobs unlike anything we have ever seen. Where he attends college, and if he gets a degree in a marketable area will have a profound effect on the rest of his life!
** I will make the bold statement that this college decision in all likelihood will have as much effect of this young man’s life as who he decides to marry. These kids can barely drive, can’t vote, can’t defend their country but possess enough knowledge about who they are academically, athletically and socially to make an informed decision?
** A coach in our athletic department recently made this statement.
“What is the big hurry? If the college that has the best product for this young man, won’t that still be the best product a year from now?
Or is there a fear on the school’s part that their product is inferior?”
I never intended this email to be so long, but I am passionate about this issue. I really believe we are doing these young people a great disservice in having them make such a MONUMENTAL DECISION so early in their lives!
Stanford University Associate Head Baseball Coach