Imagine this: you're a top high school recruit in your respective sport and your dreams seem like they're coming to fruition. Multiple division one schools are now hounding at your door for you to come play them. It's always portrayed that being recruited by a college athletics program is this fairy tale process. For many athletes in today's world, this just isn't the case.
College recruiting can become a vicious thing to go through as many top athletes see some dark sides of the recruiting process. Some coaches are willing to do anything to get a player to come to School A over School B. Vulgarities towards other coaching staffs, bringing up the issue of race, and skewing stats and numbers in any way possible are just the surface of this problem.
Negative recruiting is easily one of the bigger issues that face the recruiting process today. When we say the term "negative recruiting", we mean what is mentioned above. It is one thing to boast about your institution having better academics and opportunities such as being a Power-5 school instead of a mid-major; but when you lie to a player to meet your agenda of getting a good recruit, you have gone too far.
This problem is continuing to grow and the mainstream media is staring to cover it more. During the process of writing this article, more sources have came forward anonymously throughout the college ranks. So what is being said to these student-athletes? What is the extent of this "negative recruiting"? The bulk of this has already been touched upon but the best place to read up on it is through the works of ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree. The writer has written a piece that entails negative recruiting through anonymous sources and a piece talking with a certain "Coach X".
Many would think that this may only be a problem for the four and five star recruits that are going to end up at Power-5 programs. Surprisingly enough, the Mid-American Conference is also a breeding ground for negative recruiting. After speaking with various sources (who do not wish to be named), it also happens to recruits who eventually choose to call Buffalo their home for four years.
Buffalo has been poked at and called a "racist city" to many recruits. Which, in all honesty is kind of true especially after recent studies. Unfortunately, this puts the school in a light that simply isn't true. If anything, Buffalo has one of the best records in diversity. There was a time where the school had an African American athletic director, football coach, and men's basketball coach. For those that don't remember, that would be Warde Manuel, Turner Gill, and Reggie Witherspoon respectively. Two of those names were hired away for better opportunities and the only reason the other was fired was because of a distinct lack of MAC championships.
There is no doubt that this isn't all that's said about the flagship school of the SUNY system. Imagine everything that has happened in the past few years that could be used against the school. The White Death Era is a great place to start. A recruit can easily be scared away when they're being told by other recruiting staffs that they won't be in a stable situation when it comes to coaching. When Danny White arrived, he did everything but clear house and made the hires he felt were needed. Just about all of the hires have been successful but in the art of negative recruiting, this isn't something an opposing team would say.
This isn't even the worst of it though. We now have the cases of the Justin Moss incident, the Lamonte Bearden suspension, and the Shannon Evans media firestorm. That's just from the basketball front. When it comes to Football, it's easy for a recruit to be told that Lance Leipold's only successes have been at Division-III thus far and how his program is going nowhere (which I highly disagree). The same could be said about Blair Brown Lipsitz, especially after the large criticism that she received for getting the job for Buffalo's volleyball team.
Almost nothing has been said from the NCAA regarding this matter. After hearing about specific cases within a MAC school like Buffalo, it is obvious that it needs to be addressed***. Many conferences have a rule against negative recruiting but rarely is it enforced. Former MAC commissioner Rick Chryst has publicly said that actual enforcement of a similar policy to those of other conferences wasn't the point of its creation. Instead, it was more of a guideline to promote a better recruiting culture. It makes no sense to not enforce a rule. Why are we taking this problem and sweeping it under the rug?
I strongly urge the NCAA to do something. This isn't coming from a fan and supporter of UB Athletics, but as a fan of college athletics in general. Athletics is one of the greatest driving forces in creating a prideful community within any university. Something that could even slightly jeopardize that needs to be stopped. A student-athlete should not have fear tactics placed upon them. They should go to the school that they like the most and not be scared away because of skewed statistics and lies.
The NCAA isn't the only party that needs to take action. Athletes also need to step up and report unjust actions done in the recruiting process so that the recruiting environment is at it's highest level. Policies within conferences against negative recruiting need to actually be enforced as well.
I understand that it may take a bit to get to that point. It will be hard to be able to divide a fine line between what is and isn't negative recruiting. A discussion needs to take place throughout the NCAA or this problem will only worsen with time.
It is cruel to scare a student from an option that they think will be the best opportunity to succeed on and off their respective playing surfaces. In my honest opinion, a coach who does that doesn't even deserve to be a coach because they aren't trying to shape the student-athlete into a better person. They just want them for their talent.
***Due to Bull Run's utmost respect for the confidentiality and privacy of unnamed sources, we refuse to make specific cases that can harm someone's well being public.***