FPOS Blogs > FPOS Recruiting Chat > January 2015 > The verbal commitment - what is it?

The verbal commitment - what is it?

The Verbal Commitment – what is it?
This is such a common phrase on the recruiting trail – “She is ‘verballed’ to …” . So many parents ask me “What is a ‘verbal commitment’? “ This is when a college coach asks a player to commit to play for their college before the athlete can sign a national letter of intent (these NLIs are signed in the fall of a player's senior year). Basically a college coach wants to lock in a player as soon as possible. Two years ago when I did a piece on verbal commitments, I said we had players “verbal” as early as 10th grade. Now we hear players “verbal” in 8th grade! I had several coaches tell me they are already done with the 2017 class. Think about that, those schools are done looking at sophomores in high school.

But wait, do all players have to verbal? If my daughter is a sophomore and she has not made a verbal commitment does that mean she can no longer play softball in college? No and No.
· Many players do not settle on colleges until much later. The colleges who are committing these players so early are mostly Division 1 schools but then again many Division 1 schools are waiting. I was at a tournament this weekend talking to a coach about a sophomore pitcher. He told me he was not ready to offer her because he was not sure. His feeling is he needs to see players longer because he cannot afford to make a mistake. 

· Things change. A school may say today that they have committed all of their 2017 money but what if a player leaves the team at the end of this season? Then money opens up and the college is looking again. Recruiting is a fluid process.
· Most often, the extremely early commitments are pitchers. Softball does revolve around pitching and the trend seems to be lock up pitching early.

·  Academically strong colleges such as Ivy League and Patriot league will wait until the Junior Year to commit players because they need to see if the player has the grades to handle that kind of school.
·  Statistically, most players will not play at Division 1. The Division 3, Division 2, Junior Colleges and NAIA schools will still look a seniors as they will not be done with their recruiting.

Two questions on this topic

1) Is it a good idea to verbal early?

It can be. If the player has done her research and knows this is the school for her. The reality is that a coach will give a player a deadline to accept their offer and if they do not then someone else will. There is only a finite amount of scholarship money. It is a danger that if you do not accept now then that offer will not be there in the future

2) How binding is it?

In Softball, a verbal commitment is extremely strong from the coach's perspective. When a college softball coach accepts a verbal commitment they stop recruiting for that scholarship and count on the fact that the player will sign when the time comes. Softball is different than other collegiate sports this way - for example in football it's not uncommon for coaches of competing schools to continue to recruit a player who has verbally committed to another school. In softball you never hear this - softball coaches see it as a breach of honor if you continue to recruit a player who has committed to another school. The only problem you may run into is if a coach is fired or leaves - will the next coach honor the verbal commitment? This is a gray area - some colleges have a policy of yes they will and others leave it up to the incoming coach.

In the past, I used to council players to get any verbal offer in writing to protect themselves as much as they could from problems. Now the NCAA has passed a ruling outlawing a written offer prior to August 1 prior to a student athlete's senior year.
The bylaw ( (Written Offer of Aid Before Signing Date) . On or after August 1 of a prospect's senior year in high school, an institution may indicate in writing to a prospect that an athletically related grant-in-aid will be offered by the institution; however, the institution may not permit the prospect to sign a form indicating his or her acceptance of such an award before the initial signing date in that sport in the National Letter of Intent program.

So all a player has to guarantee the award is the coach's word. Now don't think that is a cause for alarm - softball coaches are historically good to their word - and if a coach does renege on their offer - in this day and age of Internet - it gets posted on softball websites and that coach has some image damage control for a while. But it does happen. How can it not? A coach commits an 8th grader who later decides she is not that serious about softball and stops practicing who would blame a coach for rescinding their offer?

What is more likely to happen is that a player changes her mind and "decommits" to a college. It is one of those things that makes the life a college coach difficult. A player in 9th grade commits then in a year she decides the school is not for her - it happens and college coaches don't like it but it is part of the business. When you ask a freshman to make a commitment to a college you ask for potential problems. The young lady still has a lot of growing up to do and may decide in that time that her priorities have changed. My advice if this happens is to tell the coach as soon as possible that you have changed your mind. Remember, the college coach stopped recruiting the role you would fill and now has to start again. And the later you change your mind, the fewer scholarship opportunities there are as other coaches crossed your name off their list after they found out you were committed.

The moral of the story - do your research and compare before you make a verbal commitment. No one can tell you if it is the right place for you - only you and your family can answer that question.
Posted: 1/6/2015 8:24:31 AM by kim gwydir | with 0 comments
Filed under: college, fastpitch, fpos, online, recruiting, showcase, softball

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Recruiting insight by Kim Gwydir - Former D1 College Coach