The recruiting process is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most student-athletes. College coaches, however, recruit hundreds of players each year. Therefore, it is paramount that student-athletes and their parents are educated on the process, especially when athletic scholarships are involved.
A new law will take effect in Connecticut on January 1, 2012, that seeks to bridge the information gap between student-athletes and the coaches recruiting them. “An Act Requiring Full Disclosure to Prospective Athletes Being Recruited to Institutions of Higher Education”, better known as the “Student-Athletes’ Right to Know Act” requires Connecticut colleges and universities to post specific information concerning athletic scholarships on their athletic department website.
On its face, this law is a passive attempt to require colleges and universities to fully disclose the details of what is and is not covered by an athletic scholarship. After all, a student-athlete must visit the athletic department website, locate the hyperlink concerning the Student-Athletes’ Right to Know Act, click on it, and wade through the details. But a closer examination reveals the value of this law: educating student-athletes on the crucial questions that need to be asked of coaches before accepting a scholarship offer.
The following are a few issues covered in the Student-Athlete’s Right to Know Act that should be part of any discussion between a prospective Division I student-athlete and the coach recruiting that athlete:
The 4-year athletic scholarship or “full-ride” is a myth. Scholarships are limited to one year by the NCAA, and must be renewed for the following year. Student-athletes must ask coaches about the university’s policy concerning the renewal of scholarships, including but not limited to circumstances where the student-athlete is injured, there is a coaching change or the student-athlete’s athletic performance falls below expectations. On a similar note, the student-athlete should inquire about over signing – where the university signs more student-athletes than it has available scholarships and the effect on current student-athletes.
No one considers the possibility of a transfer during the recruiting process. However, a student-athlete should discuss the process of requesting a release from his or her university to explore transfer opportunities. Universities sometimes refuse to grant such a release, or grant a limited release, excluding universities in its league or other rivals, and any such restrictions should be made clear. Establishing the policy at the outset can prevent confusion and protect the student-athlete’s rights should he or she seek a transfer in the future.
Injuries are a reality of collegiate athletics. Therefore, student-athletes need to know whether medical insurance will be provided and what limits are associated with that coverage. Student-athletes must inquire as to what athletically-related medical expenses will be paid, including deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. In addition, the duration of insurance coverage should be communicated. Lastly, the availability of a second opinion from a physician not associated with the athletic program should be discussed.