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Hot Pot: Early Recruiting Rant

Early Recruiting continues to be a hot topic of discussion amongst the lacrosse community, and within the greater college sports consciousness. Kids who have never played a minute of high school sports are still committing to D1 programs, and while many have come out against this practice, there are still those who believe it is perfectly acceptable.

Is there such a thing as TOO young?

While I may side with those who believe early recruiting needs to be stepped back a bit, I can see both sides of the argument, and this rant has nothing to do with what is right or wrong, at least as it pertains to recruiting. This rant is all about those who have the power, and how they are, for the most part, remaining pretty silent on this issue, while the rest of us wave our limbs like we’re wacky-armed inflatable tube men.

There are three groups of people who share the most power in this scenario: 1) The NCAA, 2) The Players and their Parents, and 3) The Coaches. I’ll look at why each is pretty silent, and show how only one group has any real chance of changing anything. I’ll also tell you why that one group is unlikely to step up here.

The NCAA is a very large, and slow moving organization. By virtue of this size, many of their rules are reactive, as opposed to being proactive. When things get out of control (within a program or aspect of college athletics), the NCAA will step in and slap some wrists, but beyond providing a framework for organization and funding, this national group has historically struggled to effectively address issues before they become a problem.

Add in the fact that the NCAA is probably more concerned with revenue-producing sports like football and basketball (where early recruiting is a long-standing tradition), and not a singular sport like lacrosse, and the impetus for putting early recruiting in check is simply not there. Basically, the NCAA isn’t getting the same pushback in basketball or football, so they don’t care. It’s a sad reality at times.

The group that makes up the Parents and Players, like the NCAA, is also quite large. There are tons of kids vying for a small number of slots here. There is no structure to this group, no organization, tons of turnover, and little to no oversight. Parents and players can act as they want, do what they want, and once they are recruited, or accepted, to a school, they often leave the discussion altogether, because their time spent in the recruiting world is over.

It’s hard to get people who have one goal in mind for themselves to come together and think of what is best for the whole, and for the future. This is the reality of being a short-term consumer of low availability goods. You scrap for what is yours, then move on.

The Coaches, however, are a very different story from both the NCAA and the Parents and Players. This is a smaller group of schools and people than the NCAA is overall. The community is more tight knit and everyone knows each other. These guys are not in for a year or two, and then out… this is their career.

And since all of the above is true, it also means that if men’s collegiate lacrosse coaches made an agreement to dial D1 lacrosse recruiting back, they very well could. The NCAA would not legislate the rule specifically for lacrosse, and there has been little talk of truly looking at the issue overall. But this doesn’t mean the coaches couldn’t create a gentlemen’s agreement to cut back.The Parents and Players are not involved long enough or with enough critical mass, to make a difference.

Of all the groups in the Early Recruiting discussion, the Coaches are the ones who can make a change.

So if you feel strongly about Early Recruiting, and want to see a change made, your best bet is to email and call current D1 college coaches, let them know how you feel, and pressure them to create change. If not, I just can’t see Early Recruiting changing much in the next five years. The power structure, as it stands today, doesn’t seem to allow for it.