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Adam Gold

National Signing Day rules for athletes

Posted February 5, 2014
Updated February 6, 2014

As we tally up the winners and losers from National Signing Day, or as we like to call it the day when grown men can justify on-line subscriptions to web sites that feature videos of adolescent boys' greatest athletic achievements, always remember that there's a fine line between poring over these videos and having Chris Hansen show up on your door step.

Oh, just in case you were under other illusions, keep in mind that recruiting is really just a guess. An educated guess, to varying degrees, but a guess nonetheless.

With that said, here are a few reminders for those who will sign on the dotted line Wednesday. These are also helpful for fans who aren't otherwise aware of the system.

1-You are entering into a voluntary agreement. No one has forced you into signing this National Letter of Intent even if we may have threatened to – sorry, suggested that we might – also invite that other quarterback to also voluntarily pledge his love and devotion to our school. And, since you will receive no monetary compensation for your services, this could even be considered volunteer work – whether you are attending the University of Tennessee or not.

2-Upon signing, voluntarily of course, you agree to voluntarily give up any and all rights to your name, image and identity until which time we've decided that we're done using you – rather, you've squeezed every last drop of educational resources from our University. Until then, only the school can utilize your name, and your fame, to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the athletic department so they can pay the offensive coordinator $700,000 per year. Actually, the television networks can also use your image for promotional purposes so as to remind potential viewers of the next big game. This will help drive up ratings, which enables them to make more money for executives and fatten the multi-billion dollar contracts the conferences demand for broadcast rights. This also helps the schools pay their head coaches $5,000,000 annually and keeps the lights on in the women's golf meeting room for another season. Should you be caught using your name or image in the interest of the almighty dollar (in other words, doing what the schools are doing), you'll have your right – sorry, the privilege – to play taken away and you'll be shamed and vilified on social media for being selfish.

3-In exchange for your volunteerism, you will be given a first class education.

Disclaimer: Not all classes are available to all students as practices, meetings, weekday games, workouts, "voluntary" film study, treatment, physical therapy and other unmentionables all have priority over your academic desires. If you're interested in science, be aware that you may not be allowed to take classes with lab assignments because those are time-consuming and intrude on your football responsibilities.  However, don't worry because we have many programs designed to make sure you graduate with a degree in communications or a related field. Those programs may include classes that don't actually demand any significant work from you, and in fact may not ever meet.

4-Your commitment to this University, while voluntary, is binding. No, not from us to you, that would be silly because we might find players at your position who are better than you, or who have a greater understanding that football takes precedent over academics, and we can't be in the position of being forced to keep you on scholarship when another player would give us a better chance of winning. If you decide to back out of your commitment to this school, at any time and for any reason, we have the right to stop you from playing at any school for any reason as long as it suits this University.

5-Even though many of you selected this school based on the current coaches in the event of a coaching change, be it by our hand or his, you are still bound to this University. At this point, refer to bylaw 4. Remember coaches are free to move about the industry freely, with zero restrictions. If that adversely impacts you the player, well, rub a little dirt on in. What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger, right?

6-If you are found to have violated any of the NCAA's (1950's era) rules on amateurism you will be ridiculed and vilified in the university community by fans and others who believe that you are there only to serve their needs and desires. Even though your scholarship doesn't completely account for all the expenses incurred while attending school, should you take a few hundred dollars from a fan, sleep on a friend's couch, borrow a car, get comped at the local pizza joint or take $100,000 worth of jewelry on the promise of later paying the bill you, and you alone, will bear the brunt of the criticism while the University and the NCAA hide behind their stacks of money until the story fades away.

As a matter of course, keep in mind that in any situation regarding your stay at the University, what's good for the program comes first followed by what makes it easier/more convenient for the coaches. After that, what's good for you, within reason, will be considered. But, we're not making any promises.

Go team!

2 Comments

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  • uBnice Feb 7, 2014

    Thank you, Mr. Gold, for attempting to expose the exploitation these football players will go through.

    Pay the players!

  • Jeanne Gunn Feb 9, 2014

    #5 is the most unfair IMHO. Coaches are a huge reason a player chooses School A over School B, and if they're free to leave, so should the athlete who committed based on the coach actually being at the school.

    Yes, schools make millions off these athletes, and they definitely deserve a big slice of the pie that includes their image, jersey sales, etc. The athletes do benefit from their play, however, as schools have become farm systems for the NBA and NFL. Is it all fair? Of course not, and changes are needed, starting with the NCAA.

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