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An Attorney Says: Read the Fine Print Before Signing with the NCAA

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An Attorney Says: Read the Fine Print Before Signing with the NCAA

signing-day

by Damario Solomon-Simmons

The guaranteed free, four-year “full ride” scholarship every high school star football player thinks they are receiving from their favorite school today is actually:

  • NOT guaranteed for four (4) years; and
  • NOT really free;

First, each scholarship is an one (1)-year, renewable at the institution’s discretion, financial aid package that can be cancelled at the discretion of his coach.   Second, according to a recent ground-breaking research study, the average “full scholarship” Division I athlete actually pays about $3,000.00 annually in school-related expenses. With far too many athletes completing their college eligibility without a degree,  pro career, and highly in debt for their schooling at the college for which they just help generate millions. The NCAA should immediately require colleges to explain to recruits they are not offering them “full-ride” four-year scholarships or at least not  penalize players who retain legal counsel to explain the terms of their scholarships. Likewise, recruits and their families need to make sure they understand the “fine print” associated with major college football scholarships, and take heed of these four (4) important points:

  1. Accept that — when the hoopla dies down, the rankings become irrelevant, and the scholarship has been signed  – the coach who recruited you expects you to help him keep his job by winning games, because the reality is that coaches are hired and fired based on “Ws and Ls” and not “As and Bs.”;
  2.   The program fully intends to get every ounce of athletic talent and potential that you possess. So, you must individually take responsibility for your  growth as a whole person and seek to fully maximize the academic and life skill opportunities that the university provides;
  3.   Take advantage of every tutor provided, computer and language lab staffed, and networking opportunity available.  Take an active role in deciding your major and what classes you take based on what interests and will provide you the best opportunities for a viable  career once the athletic days are over;
  4.   Look for opportunities to excel outside of sports and be noticed for being more than an athlete. This can be accomplished by taking the lead on a class project, applying for academic- or community service-based awards, or simply taking the time to request to have lunch with the president of your university.  This will make it more difficult to get “run off” if “things don’t work out” because you will have non-athletic supporters that value you for more than your on-field production;
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Having the opportunity to be recruited to play college football (or any sport) is one of the greatest honors one can receive.  In fact, to have been blessed to have played major college football was one of the highlights of my life, and I believe with the proper  effort it can also be for all of the great athletes signing their scholarships today.

Damario Solomon-Simmons, Esq. M.Ed., is an NCAA D-1 football letter winner at the University of Oklahoma. He is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonSharrock law firm and Legislative Liaison for Oklahoma Policy Institute. He can be contacted [email protected]

 

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