Q: Could you please address what a “verbal agreement” is? When someone has verbally agreed to a school does the player or school have to honor it? Or can either get out of the deal if they come across a better situation prior to signing the Letter of Intent?
A: The verbal agreement is not binding in any way.
A verbal offer is made by the sport’s coaching staff and not by the school or athletic department. Because the offer is not binding, either the athlete or the university can back out of the commitment at any time. Many athletes do, but it is not recommended. In fact, if you aren’t an elite, five-star athlete, you can face some roadblocks in your recruiting if you get a reputation for not honoring your commitments. Even if they aren’t legally binding.
Coaches can also withdraw their commitments, but there are a few reasons that they would stay loyal to a recruit they offered a scholarship to:
- The PR of withdrawing a spot from a committed player is tough to overcome, especially with the athlete’s high school. It may take a college coach a long time to heal that wound.
- Other college coaches might use it against them as long as it is effective, saying that a player can’t trust the coach’s word, which is huge in recruiting.
For many coaches, when they offer a scholarship, nothing short of legal problems, a major violation of high school rules or academic failures would be cause for rescinding a committed player’s scholarship. Open communication with a coach or program is the best way to avoid any unpleasant surprises… on either end!