Q: The coaching staff that has been recruiting me has been fired or taken a job at another school—does my scholarship offer still stand?
A: One of the toughest hurdles a player can go through during their career is dealing with a coaching change, especially at the collegiate level. Whether a coach retires, leaves for another school, decides to go coach a pro team or gets fired—emotions run high and the media and critics will pile on the uncertainty.
It’s important to understand that the high rate of turnover in the coaching profession is the prime reason why it’s so important for players to feel comfortable at the SCHOOL and in the TOWN without the coach that recruited them there because there is a good chance that the coach may not be there for their entire career. Coaches take and leave jobs for the pure reasons of #1- the betterment of their family (more money, closer to family and home, a promotion) or #2- a better opportunity to win (bigger budget, bigger fanbase, easier path to a championship). Those are the only two reasons; it is never personal with the players.
It’s natural and okay for you to be hurt and frustrated, understand that it is okay for you to take time away from the media, social media and speaking publicly on the matter until you have had enough time for it to sink in and for the university to hire a new coach, you probably will have time to evaluate the new hire and decide if you would like to keep firm on the commitment or re-open your recruitment.
As far as previous scholarship offers, it varies, but many coaches will honor previous commitments that the last staff has made. Most new head coaches will hold over an assistant coach, recruiting coordinator or recruiting administrative staff to help catch them up-to-date when the new staff moves in, getting filled in on all current commits and offers so the new staff isn’t starting from scratch with evaluations and research.
Both the new coach and previously committed player may need to re-evaluate the situation from both sides if the new coaching staff brings a specific style of play that may not be the right fit for that type of player.
If you haven’t committed but received an offer, it may carry-over to the new staff, or they may bring committed recruits from their last school and not have available spots. Recruits who are still open are more in a grey area, the new staff will be looking for players who fit their specific style of play or system and may not have a need for certain players who don’t fit those qualities.
The outgoing coach may bring some staff with them and it’s understood that the incoming coach has 100% freedom to clean house from top to bottom and bring in their own network of trusted staff. If they are going to an equal-level program, they may try to bring you to their new school. This period of time can be very awkward, but just give the process a week or two to play out before making any drastic decisions, if time allows.
In many sports, if you are a good recruit, expect coaches from other schools to start reaching out to pitch their school to you. In the end, you need to make the best decision for you, so if time is running out nearing Signing Day, it’s okay to check out your options. It’s important that you keep an open mind and listen to what the new coaching staff has to say before completely moving on and re-opening your recruitment.
Give yourself time to decide if you are still excited about your opportunities and the direction of the program, it’s perfectly normal for you to keep quiet on the matter and have ‘no comment’ to media and friends, especially if you are a major Division I prospect. Evaluate the opportunities, community and entire situation before making comments you may regret in a week or two!