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Post When is a scholarship offer not an offer?

Friday February 13, 2009

The offer of an athletic scholarship seems like it should be a pretty cut and dried process, but it can be as muddy as the flip side of the process – the commitment.

We hear about offers (especially in basketball) to younger and younger prospects to the point where the NCAA is considering regulating contact with seventh-graders.

But a formal written offer can’t be made until September of the prospect’s junior year. So, yes, there are non-binding verbal offers as well as commitments. Often these "offers" come with plenty of strings attached. We’d like to offer you a scholarship – if we have one available, if you bring your grades up, if you have a strong senior season, if we don’t sign two other guys at your position, etc. Many prospects stop listening after "we’d like to offer you a scholarship," and so there is often confusing and conflicting information about a prospect’s status. Sometimes even the prospect himself isn’t the best source to find out if there is an offer on the table.

That brings us to the case of Kwame Geathers. If the last name is familiar, that’s for good reason. His brother Robert played at Georgia and is now in the NFL. His other brother Clifton is a contributor at South Carolina. That’s quite a strong family legacy, and Kwame seems to be just as good of a prospect.

Geathers has still not signed with a school, and Georgia has always been among those listed as a favorite. Georgia’s continued interest and Geathers’ status as a top prospect led many to assume or report that he had an offer from Georgia.

Then questions emerged around Signing Day. Did Geathers even have an offer? Even his high school coach was unsure. It turns out that Geathers didn’t have an offer. That led to another round of conflicting information. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell reported that "Georgia apparently is out of room and had to pull its offer (to Geathers)." That wasn’t the case, and Steve Patterson of UGASports.com had to set the record straight yesterday. Georgia has room not only for Geathers but also for unsigned TE Orson Charles.

There’s still more. Today we learn that Geathers did in fact finally get that Georgia offer on Thursday. But now he is postponing his decision again as he weighs a recent visit to Tennessee. Once assumed to be a Georgia vs. South Carolina battle, Geathers is now considering Georgia, Tennessee, and Central Florida.

RELATED: Read some additional thoughts about the recruiting process over at HP. Interesting thoughts about the emerging “‘soft offer” to go along with the “soft commitment”. I’m not sure it will catch on though. There is a much greater stigma attached to pulling an offer as there is to switching a verbal commitment. Coaches might be getting tired of it, but in the public perception it’s still the coach making $2 million per year vs. a prospect who is often a lower-income minority.

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