VETTEL: Loss Of Mack Just One Of Those Things

The confirmation that top shooting guard prospect Doneal Mack won't be enrolling at UF is unfortunate, but it is far from the disaster many on this site have referred to it as being. This piece has nothing to do with the basketball implications of not having Mack in Orange and Blue, but will look at the process and the issues that often have to be dealt with.

To begin with, there is no one at the UF Admissions office who is trying to do damage to Gator sports. The admissions officials have a role to play in the recruiting game, just as many others do. An examination of that might help illustrate the way things can happen.

System Leads to Conflicts, Disagreements

If the University of Florida is recruiting a potential student-athlete with borderline academic credentials, it goes through a process that can often make folks angry along the way. First, the assistant coach will work with, and often lobby the head coach to go to bat for this particular individual. The basis for that decision resides in an evaluation of many factors. They look at a combination of the student-athlete's athletic skill, academic potential, family situation and character. Sometimes the head coach will say, no. That makes the assistant mad, but he/she will get over it.

Sometimes the head coach says yes and the issue is then taken to the academic folks. If there is a rejection there, Athletic Director Jeremy Foley can be enlisted to "go to bat" for the youngster in question. Again, sometimes Foley will agree and sometimes he won't. And that can make the head coach rather angry.

On and on the process goes, occasionally to the point where the University Provost may get involved in the final decision whether or not a kid will be accepted. The Provost will sometimes side with academics/admissions folks and sometimes with athletics. Thus someone is bound to be unhappy.

It generally works pretty well, though never to anyone's complete satisfaction. Still, a system of checks and balances is important to ensure a reasonably balanced approach is taken to these types of situations. To me, that's a good thing.

Higher Standards Are Worthwhile

Many of you on this site have praised Urban Meyer for his line "the best one percent of one percent" that indicates how highly he views the opportunity to attend the University of Florida. I completely agree with the sentiment and the attitude that goes with it. As a UF grad, I agree that it's a special place, and thus Gator coaches should aim as high a possible to get the best student-athletes out there. And for the most part, they do.

However, high standards come with a price. When you set as a matter of doing business that you are looking for the best and brightest, exceptions for the more borderline individuals are going to be harder to get through the system. One coach, one athletic director, one admissions officer should not and will not have the unilateral authority to determine who is deserving of that "waiver." It has to be a collaborative process. Unfortunately when that happens, people don't get their way and sometimes youngsters can get hurt.

Even before the NCAA began its crackdown on questionable "diploma factory" type schools the University of Florida had a track record of being more difficult to pleaser when it came to transcripts. Many times through the years prospects who had "qualified" under NCAA rules were denied even an official visit to UF. I'm not saying that is the case here. What I am saying is that these things will continue to happen in the future, and they will NEVER cost UF a coach.

Keep in mind that UF denied admission to Derwin Kitchen last December much to the chagrin of many inside and outside the basketball program. The basketball season turned out pretty well. The bottom line is when you talk the talk about higher standards you have to walk the walk. Sometimes that can be unpleasant, but not as much as lowering the standards would be in the long run.

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