Last week during the National Collegiate Hockey Conference media day, Commissioner Josh Fenton gave his state of the conference comments. One of his bullet points was recruiting and verbal commitments.
For the last two years, a committee of college hockey commissioners, athletic directors, and hockey coaches have been working on improving the college hockey recruitment process. One of the things to emerge from the committee; only a signed National Letter of Intent truly constitutes a commitment. Meaning that verbal commitments are only intentions.
Years ago, college hockey coaches entered a “gentleman’s agreement” not to recruit verbally committed players, but that era is gone.
“We’re not here to judge the ethics of honoring different types of commitments,” Commissioner Fenton said.
I asked UND head coach Brad Berry if the gentlemen’s agreement is dead. I think you’ll like his answer.
“You’d like to think not,” coach Berry said. “I hope it stays in effect. If someone commits, you stay away from somebody else’s player. I think for the most part we all try to take advantage of that honor system. But at the end of the day, I think a lot of times it comes from the players and the parents making alternative decisions because they made a choice at such a young age.
“We have a lot of respect for all of the coaching staffs in the country. For the most part, we adhere to the gentlemen’s agreement.”
Coach Berry says recruitment is about building relationships with your committed recruits. “You have to pay attention to the players and the parents and keep building that relationship going forward,” Berry said. “If you commit a kid you can’t just wait until they come in. You’ve got to keep building that relationship so you know it’s going to be a good relationship.”