The immediate thought for collegiate athletes facing coaching changes is, "Where does this leave my scholarship?" In the final installment of our series with new UTEP Miners head football coach Sean Kugler, we cover your most pressing concerns about scholarships and recruiting after a coaching change.
According to Kugler, college coaches spend much of their off-season recruiting and maintaining connections with big-name high school programs. A new coach does not want to mess up relationships that the old staff had established—meaning your scholarship is pretty safe. "[UTEP] honored all of our commitments to players previously recruited by staff before us," Kugler says, "As the coach, you look at all the players as your own, you take on that responsibility when accepting the job. I treat them just as if I had personally recruited them."
This is good news if you're a new recruit to a program undergoing a coaching change, but remember that there are always exceptions to the rule. Before athletes get to retain their scholarships or spots on the roster, they're evaluated by the new staff, and the evaluations aren't always purely performance based. They can also include intangibles like maturity. "I would back out of a scholarship offer if an athlete demonstrated bad character or unsalvageable grades," Kugler says.
Hesitating on your decision if you haven't signed yet or just made a verbal commitment? Unless you're absolutely convinced the new program is not for you, you shouldn't retract. "Both players and coaches have to be extremely careful about backing out of a scholarship, because it causes bad relationships," Kugler says.
Just like a new coach wants to stay in the good graces of high school programs, pulling out of a scholarship commitment could potentially reflect badly on you and your current high school coach. In the coaching profession, relationships are everything, and coaches talk pretty regularly among themselves about players. Bottom line: keep your reputation clean.
A new coach and staff can be scary for athletes, but it's important to look at the coaching carousal as a new opportunity. Take advantage of that opportunity to renew your focus and reevaluate yourself to stay mentally sharp.
Did you enjoy this series? Check back for some final advice from Kugler in the coming weeks. Also, check out the first two installments below.