Letter of Intent in College Sports Recruiting

Recently there have been a lot of news stories about athletes who are involved in college sports recruiting. They are being ‘picked up’ or signing letters of intent to college teams. Controversy seems to surround some of these events. And, although this is a time of great excitement for most, some athletes are greatly disappointed if things don’t work out as they dream they will.

So, the first thing that occurred to me is that I need to know what the word “intent” means and how it applies to college sports recruiting. I looked up the word and found that “intent” is from the Latin word “intentus” meaning an aim, or purpose. “Intent” is a past participle of “intendere”; to intend. This means to me that the word implies there will be an act that will take place soon. Also, noted is “the state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object.” A synonym for intent would be aim, plan or plot.

With an understanding of the word, I began to examine what a letter of intent might be used for. In the case of students and colleges, I surmised that a college would want a student to be committed, or locked in to attending. This way the college athletic director could begin to build a team for the next year; actually the next four years and plan a strategy for his teams’ success. Likewise, the student could be confident that the college would hold a spot for them. The student would be able to plan the next four years of their education and participation and even look further into the future to professional play. Any reasonable person, no matter which side of the table they are on, would be satisfied that a specific act would be taking place in the very near future. In this case, a college sports recruiting opportunity.

When I read about the young high school basketball player that had been accepted by a Utah university and rejected a few months later, I was disturbed. I thought of my son and his time in high school and how much he loved basketball. I remembered the rare occasion that a fellow team member was being courted by a college. This was a dream come true and a chance of a lifetime. With 700 students in his senior class, one percent was awarded athletic scholarships. What a disaster for the entire family to sign the letter of intent only to have the deal fall through.

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