Between the Lines: The Recruiting Debates Never End

College Hockey News from CHN

October 22, 2018

… And More Early-Season Observations

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor (@CHN_AdamWodon)

There are some topics which are destined to never die: Why are we here; Who was Jack the Ripper; Analytics vs. Scouting; Coke vs. Pepsi.

And the other, is Recruiting. With a capital ‘R.’

As long as college sports exists, recruiting will exist, in some form or another. And, as long as recruiting exists, teams will push the envelope as far as possible to get an edge. In the more high-pressure, high-dollar sports like basketball and football, this often results in programs crossing the line and breaking rules — notwithstanding the ever-changing nature of those rules. That doesn’t often happen in hockey, but many rules have come and gone to adapt with the times, and it’s difficult to keep up.

The ever-present factor in college hockey recruiting is that it competes with another “amateur” organization — the Canadian major juniors. Players can play major junior as young as 16 years old (15 in special circumstances). The youngest an NCAA freshman can be is basically 18. That means that, in order to fend off major junior recruitment, NCAA coaches must be willing to speak to kids as young as 14 or 15.

One problem with that is, the NCAA doesn’t accept Letters of Intent until the player is at least 16 years old, often 17. So the decision isn’t binding until then. As a result of this, NCAA coaches once came up with a Gentleman’s Agreement — if you’re talking to a player, other teams won’t.

Over the years, this agreement essentially deteriorated, for numerous reasons we’ve outlined before. And not always for nefarious reasons. Those who broke the agreement had good points, as seedy as it may have seemed on the surface. And once some teams start ignoring it, others better follow or else they get left behind. Miami head coach Enrico Blasi changed his entire …

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