By this point, everyone should know that the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent is the worst contract to sign in all of sports.
The intention is good; the goal of the NLI is to end a player’s recruitment when he decides that he wants to go to a certain school.
But the way that it plays out is weighted entirely in favor of the school. The contract legally binds the player to the school, forcing him to enroll for at least a year unless he wants to have a year of his eligibility taken away. That’s precisely what is happening with Notre Dame signee Eddie Vanderdoes. He signed an NLI with Notre Dame, but has since decided that it would be more important for him to attend school closer to home because of an ill family member.
That doesn’t matter, however, since Notre Dame won’t grant him a release. Vanderdoes is going to be spending a year on the sidelines that will cost him a year of eligibility.
That’s not the worst part of the NLI, though.
The worst part is that the school can cut ties with a player at any time it chooses. In other words, signing an NLI in no way guarantees that the player will have a scholarship waiting for him.
Take, for example, Richard Amardi.
Amardi, a 6-foot-9 forward from Indian Hills CC, signed an NLI with Iowa State back in November. For the last nine months, he’s been locked in to be a Cyclone during the 2013-2014 season. But since Fred Hoiberg was once again active on the transfer market and landed for Marshall guard Deandre Kane late last month, there are now no scholarships available for Amardi.
He’s been released from his NLI by Iowa State.
He will not be a Cyclone unless he feels like paying his own way to go to school there.
To be frank, I don’t have a huge issue with the way that ISU head coach Fred Hoiberg handled this situation. Is it ideal? No, but the bottom line is that Amardi got cut. He has one season of eligibility left, and it makes much more sense for Hoiberg to have Kane on the roster than Amardi, considering that both players have just one year of eligibility remaining. At the end of the day, Kane is a better player than Amardi, and while it’s not the classiest way to handle the situation, Hoiberg is there to win basketball games, not to cater to the last scholarship player on his bench.
The best way for him to win basketball games is to give Amardi’s scholarship to Kane. That may hurt him recruiting down the road, but more people are going to remember a poor record next March than are going to remember Hoiberg yanking a kid’s scholarship this June.
The issue here is that the rule is structured this way in the first place.
The problem is the NLI.
It gives all the power and all the leverage to the schools.
And it’s kids like Amardi that end up getting the worst of it.
Hopefully, he can find a place to play out his final year of eligibility.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.