GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s use of written offers of admission in this year’s recruiting cycle could soon have other schools following suit.
The Gators signed wide receiver Isaiah Johnson and seven other mid-year recruits to written offers of admission instead of financial aid agreements.
As discovered by Florida’s compliance office, the NCAA’s Michelle Hosick explained to SEC Country that if a recruit signs only a written offer of admission and not a financial aid agreement, a school is not in violation of NCAA rules should that recruit decide to enroll elsewhere.
But when a financial aid agreement alone is signed and its benefits are acted upon, the school has committed a recruiting violation if that mid-year signee fails to enroll. This happened to LSU with offensive lineman Matt Womack during the 2015 cycle.
If 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason had flipped from UGA to Florida in this year’s class, Georgia would have faced NCAA sanctions because former coach Mark Richt publicized Eason and discussed him to the media. Had Eason signed a written offer of admission instead of his financial aid agreement, the Bulldogs wouldn’t have been at risk.
A written offer of admission is straightforward — “a written offer of admission to a specific member school for a prospective student-athlete,” per Hosick. Once signed, it admits the mid-year recruit into school but is not binding for him/her. Johnson, for example, simply has to withdraw from Florida and be admitted at Washington State, his new school of choice.
A financial aid agreement can be signed earlier (Aug. 1) than a written offer of admission and also doesn’t bind the recruit to the school. It’s just a written offer of guaranteed aid as opposed to admission.
Both provide the same benefits, among others, to the school and mid-year enrollee:
- Dead periods no longer apply after a financial aid agreement, written offer of admission or letter of intent has been signed.
- Phone calls restrictions are lifted.
- Publicity restrictions lifted.
- Changes allowable timing for official and unofficial visits.
- Coaches still can’t make in-person, off-campus contact between the April 15-May 31 evaluation period, even if one of the three documents has been signed.
The biggest — and essentially the only — difference between a financial aid agreement and written offer of admission is that one can lead to an NCAA violation and the other can’t.
And that’s an important distinction.