Here's how important national letters of intent are in the recruiting process: you can't just sign one whenever you want.
The NCAA has specific time periods in place for inking such important agreements. They vary by sport, and there are a lot of sports. So it's easy for recruits to commit to a school but really have no idea when they're supposed to sign their letter of intent to make it official.
Here is a breakdown of when national letters of intent are signed for athletes wanting to earn a scholarship for the 2009-10 school year, according to the NCAA website:
Basketball (regular period): April 15-May 20, 2009
Football (mid-year junior college transfers): Dec. 17, 2008-Jan. 15, 2009
Football (regular period): Feb. 4-April 1, 2009
All Other Sports (early period): Nov. 12-19, 2008
All Other Sports (regular period): April 8-Aug. 1, 2009
The coaches of most sports seemed satisfied with the calendar in place, but there are discussions of implementing an early-signing period for high school football recruits. In recent years, football prospects have committed, decommitted, recommitted, decommitted and committed elsewhere, filling all the time they have to make a decision before February.
One Division I coach told me he uses 25 percent of his recruiting budget "babysitting" recruits, or visiting recruits who have already committed to make sure they don't stray.
Nothing is imminent, though, so the dates in place will be a good forecast of years to come.
Last weekend marked the 35th anniversary of Title IX, the legislation credited with increasing gender equity in sports. According to the Women���s Sports Foundation, since its enactment in 1972, female athletic participation has increased by a staggering 904 percent in high school and by 456 percent in college.
As someone who has benefited from Title IX, softball star Jennie Finch is quick to share her appreciation for those women that came before her. "I'm truly grateful for people who have paved the way, and have fought the fight," Finch said in the Daily Freeman. "I'm happy they broke down barriers to give women like myself the opportunity to be successful athletes and make a living playing a sport that I love."
I���m no softball star, but I am also thankful for the positive influence of Title IX in my life and the opportunity to play ball in college. Here are some other women who have enjoyed the effects of Title IX and are part of my favorite moments in sports history:
1996 | New Women's Olympic Sports. Women's softball and soccer made their Olympic debut at the Summer Games in Atlanta, and the U.S. dominated, winning the gold in both sports, as well as in basketball, gymnastics and synchronized swimming. The Atlanta Games made stars of Lisa Leslie, Mia Hamm and Lisa Fernandez, giving rise to professional softball and soccer leagues for women in the U.S.
1999 | Women's World Cup. A billion TV viewers and a stadium crowd of 90,000 witness the celebration as the U.S. wins the Women's World Cup in an overtime shoot-out against China. Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring the winning goal, giving little girls someone besides a model to look at for a strong, beautiful body. And for the first time, a women's soccer team got as much attention a men's squad usually does.
2007 | Equal Pay at Wimbledon. After 123 years of awarding more prize money to men than women, Wimbledon yielded to public pressure and announced on Feb. 22, that it will offer equal pay through all rounds at this year's tournament.
2006 | Winningest Coach in NCAA History. Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball historymale or femaleearned her 900th career win as the Tennessee Lady Vols beat Vanderbilt, 80-68. That year, Summitt signed a $1.125 million deal for the 2006-07 season, making her the first women's basketball coach in history to be paid a million dollars or more.
2003 | Annika Plays a PGA Tour Event. Annika Sorenstam became the first woman since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945 to compete in a PGA Tour event. Sorenstam missed the cut at the Colonialin Fort Worth, Texasby four strokes, but walked off the course to a standing ovation.
1997 | The WNBA is Born. The WNBA kicked off its inaugural season with eight teams, but unlike the other women's pro basketball leagues before it, this one has enjoyed longevity, this year celebrating its 10th year of existence.
2001 | Increased Exposure for the Women's Tournament. The NCAA and ESPN announced an 11-year agreement for the cable outlet to televise every game of the women's national championship basketball tournament.
Six years ago, 12-year-old Morgan Pressel was the youngest to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. Last week she showed the ladies how to get it done when she became the youngest major champion in LPGA Tour history at 18 years of age.
At the other end of the spectrum, this past weekend 102-year-old Elsie McLean showed the entire world of sports how to get it done when she became the oldest golfer ever to make a hole-in-one on a regulation course. McLean, who used at driver on the 100-yard par-3 fourth hole at Bidwell Park in California, broke the record set by 101-year-old Harold Stilson in 2001.
What a beautiful and crazy sport golf is -- a 12-year-old can qualify to play with the pros and a 102-year-old can make the best shot of her life and achieve something many golfers never do. I tip my hat to the both of them and will get to work on correcting my slice so that, even if I don't have a good chance at acing a hole, I might at least hit the fairway.
This isn't so much about golfor even genderbut about whether a young girl was rushed to the big state of PGA golf. Many golfers are quietly saying this reinforces the idea that women do not BELONG in professional men's golf. Do you think that's true? Or is this a case of too much, too soon--with the promise of endorsements being too tempting to pass up.
Well it���s official���Tiger Woods is pretty good. After a few weeks off from being the world���s most dominant athelete, Tiger announced he is back with a victory Sunday at the Buick Invitational in San Diego. Mr. Nike survived a sudden death playoff round to take home his record 4th Buick invitational trophy and begin his quest to defend his title as 2005 Player of the Year.
What was most striking was Tiger���s insistence that his ���laundry list of things to work on��� was still very prominent in his future plans. Which got me to thinking- if the greatest golfer in the history of the universe has a written list of things to improve upon-then maybe so should I.
My basketball laundry list as created this morning:
1) Get my shooting percentage over 30%
2) Get more offensive rebounds.
3) Use my pivot foot more.
4) Don���t let Bernie elbow me in the face anymore..