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Friday, November 20, 2009
 
Professor Alfred Yen on Efforts by Colleges to Discourage Disappointing High School Recruits from Enrolling

Over on Madisonian.net, Boston College Law School Professor Alfred Yen has a thought-provoking piece on Duke basketball recruit and high school senior Clair Watkins, who, as a junior, Duke University offered a full scholarship to play (and enroll) at Duke. Watkins, an honors student, has apparently not progressed as a player and Duke recently told her that while it will honor its scholarship offer, Watkins likely wouldn't play at Duke if she enrolled. Watkins is now contemplating other college options, though she could still choose to accept Duke's full scholarship, as she has until the spring to decide.

Here's an excerpt from Professor Yen's post:

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I find this story interesting and complicated. At first blush, it’s all about nasty Duke finding better players for its team and then dumping someone they had aggressively courted. That having been said, Duke apparently is willing to stick by its commitment to a 4 year scholarship if Ms. Watkins still wants to attend. Many schools would simply have withdrawn their scholarship offer, as verbal early commitments are explicitly non-binding.

So, on one hand, I find myself giving Duke respect for keeping its promise of a 4 year scholarship. Indeed, Ms. Watkins might have found herself on the bench anyway. If the Duke coach changed her mind about Ms. Watson because better players had committed to the program, or if other players outplayed Ms. Watson once she got to Duke, she’d have the same experience the Duke coach has now warned about.

On the other hand, I also think that Duke has revealed just how much it values winning basketball games over real decency. The truly decent thing to do would be for Duke to tell Ms. Watson that she needed to elevate her game in order to play, and that the coach was calling to express her commitment to helping Ms. Watson improve. To put this in perspective, should a college call an admitted student to say “We’ve reconsidered. You’ll probably be at the bottom of your class, so maybe you’d like to go elsewhere?” Or, should a college say “We know you will find our curriculum challenging. Here are all of the academic support services that will help you thrive.”? By calling with the cold shoulder, the Duke coach was hoping to get Ms. Watson to give up her scholarship despite Duke’s willingness to honor it. Apparently they didn’t really want her to come to the school unless she would be a star basketball player.

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To read the rest, click here.





5 Comments:

I like Howard Wasserman's responses to the article better than the article itself which appears to be Pollyanna-ish and, frankly, quite ignorant (and I mean that in the most benevolent way) about the real-world of collegiate recruiting at big time programs today.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 11/21/2009 12:16 PM  


It's sad that college sports have come to this, especially when 99.5% of these athletes do not go pro. The line between the importance of sports versus academics is crossed way too often.

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