This Friday, a new law takes effect in Connecticut that will require colleges to disclose exactly what student-athletes are agreeing to when they accept an athletic scholarship.
The law, which passed the Connecticut House by a 140-to-3 vote and was unanimously approved in the Senate, seeks to keep recruits informed that scholarships are only good for one year and are subject to renewal at the discretion of the school. It also mandates full disclosure of how sports-related medical expenses are covered and what out-of-pocket expenses a student-athlete can expect to pay. Schools must post such details online and make the link available to recruits, according to an Associated Press report by Pat Eaton-Robb and Rusty Miller.
"Families very often rely on schmoozing from recruiters who say things like, 'The school will take care of you,' " state representative Pat Dillon (D-New Haven) told the AP. "They don't necessarily know what they are getting into when they start signing documents."
Similar legislation, signed into law in 2010, takes full effect next year in California. "Recruiters are fueling a lot of myths," added National College Players Association founder Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA linebacker who helped sponsor the California legislation. "Chief among them is the four-year scholarship. Four-year scholarships don't exist, so this bill will show recruits the truth and point out things they need to consider when making a choice."
Out-of-pocket expense estimates can vary widely between institutions. If those are clearly spelled out for recruits, they will be better able to comparison shop. "I want to send my son or daughter to a school where they treat them not as commodities, but as valuable human beings," University of New Haven sports management professor Allen Sack told the AP. "This kind of legislation will create competition among schools."
James Jackson is one student-athlete who would have chosen differently had he known the score up front. Jackson, a wide receiver, had been under the assumption when he signed with Ohio State that the university would finance his ongoing pursuit of a degree, so long as he received satisfactory grades and stayed out of trouble. He says he was encouraged to transfer two years into his college career to free up a scholarship for another, more promising OSU prospect. Jackson now attends Division II Wayne State in Michigan.
"My main goal coming out of high school was to get a degree from a Division I program," Jackson told the AP. "If I had known they wouldn't keep me in school for four to five years, no matter what, I would have gone somewhere else."