Recruiting Mutiny at Coach's Convention
by Mike McMahon and Adam Wodon/CHN Reporter
A long-standing piece of college hockey recruiting may soon disappear.
The so-called "Gentleman's Agreement" — an agreement between coaches to not recruit each other's players once those players have verbally committed — will no longer be adhered to, according to a discussion at this year's American Hockey Coaches Association Convention, taking place this week in Naples, Fla.
Minnesota coaches, who have stated a preference against the agreement in recent years, asked that the issue be introduced to the agenda, which it was.
According to sources, coaches then voted approixmately 3-to-1 in favor of keeping the agreement.
At that point, sources says, Minnesota and "a number of big schools" told the coaching body that it was no longer going to adhere to the agreement anyway, and only abide by the NCAA's Letter of Intent.
A Letter of Intent cannot be signed until fall of a student-athlete's senior year of high school, which means players will be fair game before that, even if verbally committed. Schools are generally allowed to contact players starting their sophomore year of high school.
"I think it's gotten out of hand," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said recently about recruiting. "There's not only (player) decommitments, there's schools de-committing players at the same time. I'm not sure that's good for anybody, and hopefully we can get back to the point where there's no such thing as a commitment until a kid's a senior in high school. Because what's going on now with ninth and 10th graders — who knows who the coach will be, who knows who your teammates are going to be. And in the long run, it's not good for anyone that all of a sudden kids decommit, or all of a sudden the school no longer wants the player."
The agreement was originally made to prevent a Wild West atmosphere, where teams could pilfer players that other teams had already recruited.
The problem, however, is that in recent years, many coaches complained that the agreement was being used as a cover to stockpile players, many of which would never wind up playing for that team, and are then left in the cold.
Ivy League schools don't adhere to the Letter of Intent or give athletic scholarships. That creates, at the same time, a risk, but also an opportunity to stockpile as many players as they want.
Internally, there are coaches who have criticized some schools for stockpiling. Certainly not all Ivy League schools, and certainly not just Ivy League schools have been criticized of the practice.
Players also "de-commit" more regularly now than in the past, which puts teams at risk.
CHN will have more on this as it develops.