In reply to: To put an even finer point on it posted by HTownND
ND offers a scholarship.
However, if the kid wants to accept the offer and commit on the spot, for some kids (higher up on the list) this is fine.
For others, they have an offer, but they cannot commit to ND because depending on how things shake out, they may not have room down the line.
Basically, we offer kids scholarships as backup plans, and they cannot commit to ND until we tell them they can.
It's playing the game. At least, for the most part, we are honest with the kids when that is the case (they are a backup plan), but I'm with jt on this, it's an unsavory practice.
As a contrast, Northwestern and Stanford absolutely do not do this.
I can't speak for now, but during the Harbaugh years Stanford absolutely did play this game. My neighbor's son "committed" to Stanford in the summer before his senior year. He stopped talking and visiting other schools and held firm to his commitment despite some early contact from other schools. In mid-December, he was told he still had to "pass admissions". The kid had a great GPA and test scores and nothing had changed about his academic profile from the time he committed until then. So he took this to mean that that Stanford was actively trying to replace him and after several phone calls he was finally able to get the strength and conditioning coach to confirm that the coaches did in fact have a lead on other offensive lineman whom they liked more. The kid had to scramble to reach out to other schools and find a good fit. He ended up having a fine career at NC State but he likely would have chosen a different school had Stanford not jerked him around late in the game.
in what ND does versus, say, Tennessee?
Or is the difference only that we're up-front with the kids.
I don't think making conditional offers, in general, is an unsavory practice, if it's clear what the conditions are. Waitlists are certainly not unique to college athletics.
That said, the way the recruiting system is set-up seems heavily weighted to favor schools' interests over students'.
Waitlists are generally not presented like this:
"We'd love you to join us, so here's an offer to do so. Of course, you can't accept our offer until we work our way through all four admissions rounds and have a better idea of who's coming. Then, if we have spots, we'll gladly take you."
Making a waitlist doesn't feel good. It stinks.
recruitniks get all upset because some kid flips at the last minute? No problem, we'll just input an early LOI date!
Now, the kid signs his LOI and the coach decides to leave for greener pastures? Hey, fuck you kid, you're bound to that scholarship unless you want to sit out a year (or more, if you want to go to an in conference school).
And whatever you do, do not allow the kid to profit off of his name, his image, or his likeness. Because, you know, some large corporation could come in and pay him money and that would be bad. Need to keep a level playing field.