Over the past year, cost of attendance has become one of the most important tools for college recruiters. Programs have gone out of their way to highlight what they can offer over another school as a lure to get prospects to sign with their school.
So when Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster told reporters at Wednesday’s practice the Hokies would explore withholding cost-of-attendance funds from players as a fine for disciplinary issues, it raised some eyebrows with fellow recruiters. Hokies athletics director Whit Babcock quickly backtracked from Foster’s statement, saying those types of fines would immediately be removed from the players' handbook. But when Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said something similar to Foster on Thursday and was supported by Bearcats athletic director Mike Bohn, coaches across the country asked themselves how it would be received on the recruiting trail.
Many agreed it wouldn't go over all too well.
“If they’re allowed to go through with it, then it will absolutely hurt their recruiting efforts,” a Big 12 assistant said. “It blows my mind that they even think of doing this in the first place and think it won’t hurt their recruiting in some way. Student-athletes are already struggling, and there are other effective ways to get their attention. I can already guarantee somebody out there is preparing a message that will be used against Cincinnati and others if they go through with this.”
A Pac-12 assistant agreed and said rival recruiters will quickly jump on this topic and ask recruits, "Why would you want to a place where the coaches don’t have your back."
“Of course this is going to be used against them,” he said. “That’s what everyone will do. [Tuberville] had to know that. I know if I was recruiting against them, or anybody that does this, it would be something I definitely bring up.”
However, another Pac-12 recruiter did think that it could be both a positive and a negative for any school that employed a fine system that dipped into cost-of-attendance funds.
“Tough parents and families will want it and love how a coach is trying to instill discipline and character with their children,” he said. “While other, softer-mannered parents will think it is probably stealing. I know there are some schools that if you fail a summer school class, you have to pay a percentage back, and that hasn’t really impacted anything. I’ll be surprised if this did in the long run.
“Plus, nobody will take money from their kids that come from nothing or are their stars. I’m sure it’s mainly lip service.”
A SEC assistant said it’s going to be critical for Tuberville, or any coach that goes this route, to ensure they have a strong relationships with recruits going in. But if they do and are upfront about the fine situation, then it could easily become something that becomes a positive.
“If you tell them, ‘Hey, we are paying you like pros and you want to play in the pros, so you will be treated like pros,” he said. “Miss meetings, show lack of character and discipline, you will get fined like you're a pro. Some kids and families will eat it up.
“Plus, it’s better than running suicide sprints. Almost every player would trade pizza money for not having to run sprints.”