Student Athlete Recruiting
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Lamarr Monterio, a sophomore wide receiver at Northeastern University, propelled his high school football team, Oliver Ames, into a winning team.
“I was the first player to be recruited for a Division I school in years,” Monterio said.
He broke numerous state records and received a lot of publicity as a corner back at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, Massachusetts. He said that he started to receive letters from recruiting schools right before he started his junior year.
“I probably got 12 shoe boxes full of letters. Senior year is especially hectic because coaches call and visit a lot,” said Monterio.
The NCAA has a set of rules, which universities follow for recruiting, and it states that a Division I college recruiting a high school player can start sending printed materials on September 1st of an athlete’s junior year. This can include official academic, admissions and student information, any publications or videotapes published by the college, and any general correspondence.
The general rules by the NCAA state that the activities by coaches or boosters that cause a player to become a recruited prospective student athlete are:
• Providing an official visit
• Placing more than one telephone call to the recruit or other members of the family; or
• Visiting the recruit or any other member of the family anywhere other than the college campus.
The universities that sought interest in Monterio were the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Northeastern University, University of Rhode Island, University of Connecticut, and the University of Maine. They sent him many letters and videotapes during his junior and senior year at Oliver Ames. The coaches from these universities also visited Oliver Ames to watch him play.
Recruits are allowed five visits, official and unofficial, to colleges. The college covers the expenses on an official visit. The recruits have to provide their own transportation on an unofficial visit. Monterio chose two universities for an official visit, which were Umass-Amherst and the University of Maine.
“During the day I spent time with the coaches, administrators, and advisors, and from then on I spent time with my host,” said Monteiro.
Prospective Student Athletes (PSA) are often given a host, usually someone who has something in common with the PSA, to show them the school’s campus and other places in the area where the school is located.
Monterio said after discussing his visits with his family and comparing Umass-Amherst to the University of Maine, he decided to go to Umass-Amherst.
“I didn’t choose to go to the University of Maine because of its location. It was located in the middle of nowhere,” Monterio said.
He was offered a full scholarship to Umass-Amherst and signed the National Letter of Intent (NLI), the official contract, to attend the university in the second week of February in 2001.
“The recruiting periods for football are the first week of December to the first week in February. The spring recruiting period comes at the end of April and lasts until the end of May, which coaches are designated twenty days to recruit,” said defensive assistant coach at Northeastern University, JJ Fadden.
Northeastern’s Division I-AA Atlantic 10 football program recruits primarily in Eastern Massachusetts and Southern Florida because there are a large number of recruits in these areas.
“The head coach determines where the recruiting is going to be,” said Fadden.
He said that the football program is allotted 64 scholarships and allowed walk-ons (students who are not recruited, but tryout during the year to be on the team). He also said that there are different periods when a university can contact a recruit. The first period is a contact period where an authorized athletic staff member can visit a recruit in-person off-campus. A dead period is when that same staff member cannot have any contact in-person on or off campus and are not allowed to have any official of unofficial visits. An evaluation period is a time period in which an authorized athletics staff member can be involved in off-campus activities to assess a recruit’s abilities, but cannot have contact with the prospect. The last period is the quiet period where contact can be made only on the campus of the staff member. These rules are to protect the student athletes from an overwhelming number of recruiters and for regulation with the recruiting process.
In February of this year, the football department lost their head coach, Don Brown. Coach Brown had signed a contract extension to coach for Northeastern until 2007-2008 season, but in February he was announced as Umass-Amherst’s new head coach. He also brought seven of the assistant coaches from Northeastern with him to Umass-Amherst leaving Northeastern with one coach, JJ Fadden. This brought about a lot of controversy because in Coach Brown’s contract there is a clause that states he couldn’t speak to any other schools looking for a head coach.
“It bothered me a lot because I was real close with Coach Brown. It was so sudden. We were under the impression that he wasn’t leaving, said junior corner back at Northeastern, Jeremiah Mason.
There were rumors that Coach Brown was to leave and the players confronted him, and they said he denied that he was leaving.
“His resignation came as a shock to me. I was angry because I transferred to Northeastern just to play for Coach Brown, and I didn’t even get a chance to,” Monterio said.
Monterio was recruited by Northeastern as a high school senior by Coach Brown, but chose to play for Coach Mark Whipple at Umass-Amherst. He transferred to Northeastern in fall of 2003, but red-shirted (didn’t play for the 2003 season).
Before Coach Brown resigned, he signed 16 recruits in January to play at Northeastern.
“Recruits sign a contract, the NLI, which binds them to the university and vice versa. The student doesn’t sign a contract with the coach that recruits him,” Fadden said.
The 16 recruits who signed to Northeastern have to play football for the school. Although they thought they would play for Coach Brown, they are obligated to the school and not the coach.
“They probably could get out of their contract, but they would have to take a penalty to get out of the NLI,” Fadden said.
The penalties the recruits are subject to, in getting out of their contract, are playing for a Division II or III school, which is ranked lower than a Division I school, or losing a year in playing their sport.
Northeastern took action against Coach Brown and a judge ruled that Brown couldn’t coach for Umass-Amherst until further notice.
Northeastern’s basketball program follows the same guidelines as football, but their rules are slightly different. They heavily recruit from high schools in Miami, the Boston Metropolitan area, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
“We recruit from these areas because that is where our connections are,” said Northeastern assistant basketball coach, Adam Ginsburg.
Many schools recruited Aaron Davis, a Northeastern shooting guard, as a senior at Essex Catholic in East Orange, NJ. Seton Hall, Rutgers, and LaSalle are the three schools that Davis was considering. He also went on an official visit to all three.
When addressing the official visit at LaSalle he said, “I liked the coaches there, they seemed down to earth.”
Davis had plans to go to Rutgers because of the proximity to his home, but the coach were fired a week after his visit. Ironically this happened at the other two colleges he visited.
Coach Townsend from Northeastern was recruiting at this time and Davis had known him previously. Therefore, Northeastern began recruiting Davis at this time. He visited the campus, and said that he liked the coaches, so he decided to come to Northeastern.
Bennet Davis, a Northeastern forward, was another player who was recruited by numerous schools. Virginia Tech, the University of Connecticut, George Washington, Hartford, and Northeastern were the schools looking to recruit Davis from Northwest Christian Academy in Miami, Florida. Northeastern was the only school he visited. The assistant coaches at Northeastern had a close relationship with his high school coaches. He said he knew that he was going to go to Northeastern since his junior year in high school, so he chose not to visit any other schools.
“The coaches at Northeastern saw that I had potential and I liked the players,” said Davis.
Earlier this year, eight sexual allegations have been made against University of Colorado student athletes. The allegations are stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred dating back to 1997.
The University of Colorado is facing federal lawsuits by three of the women who said they were raped. These women are accusing Colorado football players of rape at or just after an off-campus party for recruits in 2001.
The head coach, Gary Barnett, has been criticized for not monitoring his student athletes and the recruits that they host. He is currently on leave until investigations are over.
According to an article in the Associated Press, a former Colorado player, Charles Johnson said the strict changes by the university would bring more negative perceptions about student athletes. He also said people will believe that the recruits are dangerous and that current students at Colorado will have to be protected from the recruits.
The prosecutors accuse Colorado’s football program of using sex and alcohol to attract top recruits across the country.
Colorado has since announced changes to their recruiting policies for their football program. Recruits at Colorado are not allowed to attend bars or private parties, and they are to be kept under precise supervision by coaches and parents. The recruits now have an 11 p.m. curfew and can only stay a single night at the school, whereas before they could stay two nights and the curfew was 1 a.m.
“I think that the Colorado was irresponsible with their recruits. I have been on two visits and nothing crazy like that ever occurred,” Monterio said.
The recruiting process is extensive and the NCAA has set numerous rules for member institutions to follow. These rules are to protect the institutions. Colorado is a member institution of the NCAA currently under investigation for allegedly violating these rules.
Although there has been controversy with recruiting, there are players who have seen it as a positive experience.
“Honestly after each visit, I wanted to go to that particular school because the experience was phenomenal,” said Mason.