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Over Signing - A View From The Inside

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Marcus Bailey President of Parents of Players

Bluffton, SC
843-706-5019

 

Hello once again college football fans. By now you are probably tired of the debate concerning over signing of college athletes. Who can blame you? Every media outlet has been blasting headlines about the subject, but few if any, have added any meat to their stories. Hopefully this will all change.

When you tie in the interaction of some unscrupulous individuals, commonly called "street agents" in with the over signing of these potential student athletes, college sports has been given a big black eye.

We discovered there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not the locomotive of impending doom. There are those out there that state they actually care for the student athlete, and their families. One such individual is Marc Bailey. He is the President of the company he founded called Parents of Players located in Bluffton, SC.  Mr. Bailey graciously accepted an invitation to an email interview. Here is what we discussed.

Is the football the only sport where you face these issues?

I focus on football because I have credibility in that sport. I know what happens in the recruiting process, in coaches meetings, in team meetings, in the locker room, on the practice and game fields, at the training table, in the weight room, and in the academic tutors' rooms.

How many players a year do you average seeing that deal with transfers for whatever reason?

 

"I have advised more than 100 players since 2002. Only 6 months ago did I realize I could help more kids by using the web to reach out to players through their parents and high school coaches. My data on the misunderstandings of the recruiting process and the everyday life of a college athlete comes from talking with more than 700 parents of players.

What percentage of those players are in need of your services due to "over signing"?

"I have never met a high school prospect or a parent who understands the true nature of over signing and the subtle ways highly paid coaches use it to manage their rosters the way major league baseball general managers do. Therefore, the answer to your question is 100%".

Is over signing a real problem in college athletics?

Yes. Unless NCAA executives, conference commissioners, university administrators, and athletic department officials are all brain-dead or ignorant of what is happening on their watch, they must know that the subtle corruption of over signing is undermining their integrity and right to lead.  As a brilliant philosopher said, "All evil needs is for good men to do nothing."

Continue reading after the jump...

What are the typical reasons given for asking a player to sit out, or look elsewhere?

You have to recognize there are two categories of player being told to sit out or go elsewhere. Category #1 is the brand new LOI signee. That player is told, "We thought we were going to have more openings than we ended up having." Then the coach says it's due to kids making grades who they thought would not or a kid coming back from an injury they thought would not, or a kid who had said he was going to transfer but decided not to. Notice that in all explanations the coach blames the problem on something that is obviously beyond the control of the coach and since the coaches would never break a promise to a current player there's just no room for the new signee. So sorry but isn't that the way you'd want to be treated if you were the current player?

 

Category #2 of player being told to move on is totally different. This is a kid who's already been on scholarship for one or more years. The coaches tell this kid, "You're not going to get any playing time if you stay here so it's in your best interest to transfer. I care so much about you that I don't want you to waste your eligibility sitting on the bench." Again, the explanation is designed to portray the coach as a caring adult looking out for his player. The truth in 90% of the cases is that the coach is cutting the player because he thinks he has a better player waiting in the wings at either a junior college or a brand new signee and he doesn't have room under the NCAA's 25/85 "scholarship cap." If he wants this new prospect he has to cut someone.

What harm, if any, are these student athletes facing in terms of scholastic achievement?

I assume you're asking me how the players' opportunities to get a meaningful degree are impacted. The answer is, if you think graduating with a meaningful degree is in the coaches' top 3 priorities then you totally misunderstand what college coaching in the revenue producing sports is all about. You cannot name a single college football or basketball coach in Division 1 who has a cash bonus riding on his players' graduation. Not one. Yet, virtually all of those coaches have bonuses riding on winning games and going to the post-season. There is one priority having to do with academics: eligibility. And 5 years of eligibility does NOT yield a degree.

Are there any psychological effects from some of these student athletes in relation to how they feel about themselves, and their abilities?

I was a scholarship football player in the Big Ten. My son played in the ACC. I spent 25+ years in the software industry as an expert in organizational development and human resources. My undergraduate degree was in Sociology. My Masters degree is in Sports Administration. In my professional opinion the entire Division 1 sports business is based on nurturing elite athletes' self-delusion about their own presumed celebrity status. It is in no one's self-interest in the college sports business to tell a kid that he needs to prepare for a life after sports. It is in the self-interest of all salaried employees of the college sports business to perpetuate the athlete's delusion that he is special and he is a celebrity and he is destined to parlay his special talents into a life of luxury and special treatment. This delusion is the #1 cause of low graduation rates and high unemployment of ex-athletes. The saddest part is that if these athletes were only told the truth from an early age and prepared by adults for life's difficulties, their competitiveness and tenacity would cause them to be among life's high achievers after sports is over.

What would you say to prospective student athletes if you could talk to them prior to the recruiting process?

"God gave you the talent you have, you did not earn it. Stop thinking of it as a lifelong ticket to special treatment. Use your talent to get you something that will last a lifetime: an education and a meaningful degree. Prepare for life after sports because it is just one play away. If you apply your competitiveness and tenacity to preparing for life after sports you can live a long and productive life. If you waste this opportunity you will regret it for the rest of your life."

If you would please provide a brief description of what you and your company does, and what it offers to potential recruits, and/or transfer student athletes.

Some people have called me an agent for high school athletes in their negotiations with college and university recruiters. The top NCAA compliance attorney-consultant in the nation has told me my service is not prohibited by NCAA rules. You can get all the details by reading a few pages of www.ParentsofPlayers.com.

We would like to thank Mr. Bailey, for answering our questions and allowing us to share them. This is not an endorsement of Mr. Bailey, rather an enlightening view from the other side of the fence.