OT: Alabama assistant allegedly advised recruit to transfer HS to get "eligible"

Submitted by Leaders And Best on August 8th, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Alabama assistant Jeremy Pruitt allegedly pushed one of Alabama's 2013 recruits to transfer from Pensacola, FL to Foley HS in Alabama because they "could take care of him academically." The recruit actually transferred to Foley yesterday for his senior year right after fall football camp started. Pruitt worked together with Foley HS head coach Todd Watson at Hoover HS in the 2000s. In order for him to be eligible to play football this year, his entire family had to move to Foley (Alabama) school district from Florida.  I'm sure this is all on the up and up.


I think we are going to end up seeing a lot more of this in the future with the looming changes in the NCAA eligibility requirements in 2016.  If you haven't heard about these changes, this ESPN article breaks it down pretty well:


Some schools or handlers are going to start pushing borderline recruits to transfer earlier in HS to feeder high schools to get them eligible through shady grades.



August 8th, 2012 at 2:14 PM ^

I didn't, nor would I ever, neg for an opposing viewpoint.  I actually upvoted you when I saw you were negged down.  Your point is very valid.  If this were a one time shady event, I would dismiss it.  It seems that, in the SEC, shady things happen more than in most conferences.  You will never hear me say shady things only happen in the SEC, but they do seem to push the rules further than any other conference.


August 8th, 2012 at 8:00 PM ^

a) We mods don't label or rate posts. Other users do. We don't have time or inclination to read every post and label it. There's like three of us, and two of us are drunk at any given time.

2) You can change your settings so that you can read stuff that is rated as -1.

d) You're that guy who shows up at the party uninvited and complains about the music, aren't you?

Leaders And Best

August 8th, 2012 at 1:14 PM ^

And why Foley HS in Alabama? There are no other high schools in his school district that could provide educational support? Where is it documented that Foley HS is some kind of academic power that can help teach a troubled student in one year what he needs to know to be able to succeed in college? Where is it documented that Pensacola HS isn't looking out for their students' best interests? And most of all, how would you know any of this?

Pensacola HS wouldn't allow him to take extra classes? Should a student in academic trouble be taking extra classes he may not be prepared for? Taking a whole bunch of extra classes in a student's senior year is a red flag for the whole thing being dirty and the motivation behind the NCAA rule changes in 2016.  Is the goal to get eligible or to be prepared for college? For example, how can a student possibly take geometry and algebra at the same time? There is a natural order for students to learn many subjects especially math and science.

It is not illegal for him to transfer high schools. It is illegal for a college coach to steer him to a high school. I'm sorry, but this whole story stinks of shady grades and dirty dealings for Alabama to get a recruit eligible and Foley HS to get a star athlete more than a bitter ex-coach.

snarling wolverine

August 8th, 2012 at 1:10 PM ^

Hes going to a school that is better academiclly that will allow him to take extra classes to make up for previous bad grades.

OK, so the kid couldn't handle a regular high school academic schedule, so now the plan is for him to take an overloaded schedule? I'm sure everything will be handled above board.


August 8th, 2012 at 1:13 PM ^


But he makes solid points)


Pruitt and Alabama can’t defend themselves against allegations like this because NCAA by-laws expressly forbid them from discussing prospective student-athletes that they may or may not be recruiting.

So, allow me.

Hell Yeah, Pruitt steered Paige to Foley and there’s not a damned thing anyone can do about it, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. There are no NCAA by-laws forbidding him or anyone else answering an inquiry about steps a kid can take to become eligible to play college football. That includes advice on which schools are better suited to getting him where he needs to be.

So screw all y’all raising the ruckus over Paige’s midnight move across the state line. Whatcha gonna do about it?

Instead, go look into Reuben Foster’s transfer to Auburn High School and subsequent commitment switch from Alabama to Auburn. Want to know why Foster transferred? Because he needs help to qualify academically and he was leaving a program that just lost its coach. Sounds a lot like the Paige deal, doesn’t it?

It’s all on the up-and-up, folks. Don’t ask me. Ask John Infante, author of the only blog dedicated to coverage and discussion of NCAA compliance rules.

Not only does this transfer appear to be on the up-and-up, but the explanation given is even commendable. If a kid needs to play catch-up with the eligibility requirements, you’d much rather he do it in a regular classroom,” Infante said today on Twitter.

“Regular classroom” means during the normal fall semester setting rather than summer school, which is much less structured. It also means in a “block system” that allows a player to take additional courses (eight rather than six) and improve his academic performance. His old school didn’t offer that. His new one does.

So, Hell Yeah. Pruitt not only (probably) did steer Paige to Foley, he did the kid a great favor in the process and does so with the blessing of the NCAA.

Leaders And Best

August 8th, 2012 at 1:39 PM ^

I Bleed Crimson Red: truly an institution in the world of journalism and investigative reporting.  Is that where Mike Wallace and Bob Woodward cut their teeth?

I have no dog in the Alabama/Auburn rivalry and don't know much in the details regarding the Reuben Foster transfer, but I do know that Auburn HS is recognized as one of the best high schools in Alabama, and I doubt he transferred there to get "eligible."

As I said before, I don't think there is anything wrong with kids transferring to different high schools to seek better educations or athletic competition. But I do think there is something extremely wrong with college coaches steering kids to high schools to get eligible and cut corners on their education by getting grades they didn't earn.

Feat of Clay

August 8th, 2012 at 3:01 PM ^

I don't have a dog in this fight either, but I think it bears acknowledging that these coaches & recruiters have had the opportunity to see a lot of prospects at a lot of high schools over the years.  They've seen athletes face the challenge of getting and staying eligible and how that has played out at dozens of high schools with their various requirements, coaching staff, teachers, special programs, support systems and athletic-academic relations.  Their knowledge of high schools probably extends pretty far beyond which ones cut athletes the most slack.

There are a number of things that can make a school a better or worse fit for an aspiring athlete whose grades/credits aren't where they need to be.  Being "easy" isn't the only one.  It's too bad that college coaches' professional interests mean that knowledge may be applied in shady ways, because they are probably the best informed people to advise a young person on this topic.

snarling wolverine

August 8th, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

Ah, that's it!  He's just one of those kids who needs a block schedule instead of traditional one.   With the wonderful benefits of block scheduling, he'll suddenly be able to pass eight classes in a semester after not being able to pass six before!  And of course, there are absolutely no schools in the state of Alabama that use block scheduling, so he must attend this school.

Please.  He's going to this school because they'll cut him breaks that his old school wouldn't.  If you don't believe that, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you. 


snarling wolverine

August 8th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

I could buy the "block schedule will help him" argument if he were taking the same number of classes - I taught at a school with block schedules, and in some ways it can help kids manage their time better, because they don't necessarily have as much homework per night.   But not when he has two additional classes in his courseload.  That pretty much offsets the gains from the schedule switch.  And when it's final exam time, good luck passing eight of those when you couldn't pass six before.




August 8th, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

Actually I would say it almost definitely doesn't happen at Michigan. 

See: Burbridge, Aaron and Dorsey, Demar

Michigan didnt even try to gamble with Burbridge potentially being ineligible and we all know that Dorsey was denied even after he worked his tail off to make the minimum standard.


August 8th, 2012 at 1:56 PM ^

I imagine this will not result in an NCAA violation, because Saban seems like the kind of guy who scours the rule book to find whatever loopholes he can (e.g., his use of the medical exception).  I'm sure this kid's grades will dramatically improve at his new school.  The how and why that improvement will occur is another story.  




August 8th, 2012 at 11:40 AM ^

Please don't get excited, because nothing will be done. Saban cold pay a recruit on camera while smoking weed..Nick.... The recruit dropped the money and I didn't inhale........ NCAA...... Sounds good Nick.


August 8th, 2012 at 11:41 AM ^

This definitely looks shady, but I also find it depressing that some basic competency standards for HS athletes (a 2.3 GPA, 10 core classes in english, math, and science, etc.) are still not met by around 1/3 of all football players entering college.  I know this will come off as arrogant, but the fact that these standards are causing consternation with large swaths of HS football players is one of the more depressing things I've read today. 


August 8th, 2012 at 11:56 AM ^

It's very frustrating. I teach at the university level, and truth be told, there is nothing more frustrating than dealing with athletes. Not all of them are poor students, some are fantastic, but as rule the propensity for poor performance is something to be aware of. That and the expectation of getting a good grade.

"I need to get an 'A'"

Then earn your grade. Some people pay they way through college. You get scholarships to do it. The least you can do it show some respect for the extraordinary opportunity that you've been given.


State Street

August 8th, 2012 at 3:33 PM ^

They do get special treatment - it's called a Full Scholarship.  This means FREE education to the University of Michigan, not to mention free food (lots of it - over $1 million worth annually for the football team alone), exclusive and useful study resources like tutors, and oh yeah, rent checks.

Rent checks ARE your stipend.  Each athlete gets $1000/month for rent alone.  Most places where the athletes stay (usually closer to South Campus) go for $600/month tops.  Where does the other $400+/month go? In their pockets.

Ever wonder why someone like Denard, who gave the speech talking about his rough roots, can be seen taking videos in the Sugar Bowl locker room on a new iPad?  Or why he can rock expensive Polo sweaters that most regular students can't even afford at basketball games?  Rent checks.

NCAA athletes are not hurting for cash.


August 8th, 2012 at 12:30 PM ^

If students are now allowed to major in "Dance" and "Theater", couldn't we solve this problem by allowing athletes to "major" in their sport of choice?  I'd imagine many aren't destined to become nuclear physicists, nor do they want to be, so why force them to take classes they don't want to?  It is such a farce for the NCAA to push the whole "student-athlete" mantra.



August 8th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

So I'm not 100% sure of your tone, but while people can certainly major in "Dance" and "Theatre", they still have to take other courses beyond their discipline.  I'd be fine with athletes earning a degree in "exercise science" or whatever you want to call it, but they still should have to take english, math, science, history, etc. courses like everyone else, and pass them.  The issue here seems to be that a subset of athletes can't even reach the minimal bars set for them in the classroom, and yet they still get passed along because of their football skills.  All those dance and theatre majors (and basically anyone else) can leave school whenever they want and try to make it in their field without a degree, and some are successful.  Athletes have that route as well, and while the barrier is incredily high for them to succeed this way, if they are going to go the "easier" way through college, then they have to meet those standards.


August 8th, 2012 at 2:48 PM ^


I know they have a million responsibilities, but so do other people who find a way to get through their courses.  And again, they don't need to be geniuses, but when I was at UM I noticed that some athletes in my courses truly worked hard to earn the grades they did while others figured it was just HS+. 

snarling wolverine

August 8th, 2012 at 1:16 PM ^

There's nothing arrogant about that.  It's ridiculous how many kids out there put all their eggs in the athletic basket.  There are 310 million people in this country and fewer than 4,000 roster spots in the four major sports leagues (and those spots aren't reserved for Americans, either). To plan for sports to be your career long-term is madness.



August 8th, 2012 at 11:55 AM ^

Reading what constitutes a "bona fide move" in the eyes of the Alabama High School Athletic Association certainly makes this seem like it was no small task to make this happen, and because Paige was indeed academically ineligible in the spring makes it definitely seem like that is at least part of the motivation (as well as Pruitt saying that Foley would "take care of him academically")

I have to wonder if the OP is onto something here - will the inequities across districts and schools be exploited, at least in some places to make as much talent as possible eligible under the new rules? I could definitely see  transfers happening among those "on the line" academically as well if they were that motivated to play at the collegiate level. After all, not every school's 16 core courses and 2.3 minimum GPA in said courses are alike, and sadly, it seems like it could very easily become a game in itself of sorts unless it is monitored closely.


August 8th, 2012 at 11:52 AM ^

I'm from Pensacola, and my youngest brother played football for Washington High. He is going to HATE this kid with every single ounce of his being. I can't say I blame him either. What a douchey way to teach your son that there is no accountability for your actions. 

Also, Troy Faucheaux (the AD) was one of my football coaches when I played for Woodham High in Pensacola. He will (hopefully) sort this out as best as he can.

Feat of Clay

August 8th, 2012 at 1:41 PM ^

If your kid was struggling academically, so much so that his future plans were threatened, and someone who knew about various high schools suggested he transfer to a place where he's likely to struggle less, what would you do?  A lot of parents would transfer the kid.  I'd sure consider it.

Don't we all know someone who chose a less-selective college because they thought they'd have a better shot at med school having top grades from East Back Porch University than with mediocre grades from Fancy Private?  Same deal.

Yeah yeah, I get why it COULD be shady, and I understand that it's problematic that the person giving the advice stands to benefit from the transfer.  I understand the concern that "better able to take care of you" could mean "will give you a free pass on all things academic."  But we don't know all the details, and I wouldn't trust a disappointed former high school coach to deliver them fully either.

Leaders And Best

August 8th, 2012 at 2:07 PM ^

 I imagine it would be difficult as a parent to make a decision on allowing your child to cut corners on their education in order to receive a scholarship to a university.

But I think this is separate from the issue of a college coach steering a recruit to a high school to potentially bend rules academically to get a kid eligible.


August 8th, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

I was wondering how the parents could afford to get new jobs in a new community, but it looks like the schools are only 54 minutes away from each other.

While it is certainly shady that the college coach is telling the player where to go in order to get good grades, the practice doesn't seem that much different from basketball players who transfer to private prep schools their senior year or even a fifth year of H.S. in order to get eligible.  Athletes that go to those private academies never end up ineligible. 

Clarence Beeks

August 8th, 2012 at 1:47 PM ^

I get that the general reaction here is "OMG that's outrageous", but the OP omitted something substantially important from the narration of this story: Foley, AL is less than 30 miles from Pensacola, FL. Yes, the family would have to actually move to Alabama, but that's it. No need for parents to change jobs, not leaving friends, etc. This relocation requires him to move a shorter distance than many kids who live in Detroit and travel to attend Catholic Central or Brother Rice.

Leaders And Best

August 8th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

The reasons for a student to transfer to a Brother Rice or CC are different than the reasons stated in this story. How many times have you heard of a college coach steering a recruit to transfer to a feeder high school to get "taken care of academically?"

Foley HS is not just some random HS. The Alabama assistant worked with the Foley HS head coach in the past. Numerous players on the Alabama roster have come from Foley like Julio Jones, DJ Fluker, and Robert Lester.

Clarence Beeks

August 8th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

Come on, man. Don't go there. That happens all the time in any state that had school of choice. For lots of reasons, but most often to get a better education (which often translates into better grades). Take out the fact that this was across state lines and an Alabama coach is involved, and this is pretty much a non-story.

Leaders And Best

August 8th, 2012 at 2:58 PM ^

This Alabama assistant coach was part of a staff at Hoover HS that was involved in academic fraud involving unauthorized grade changes and pressuring faculty into better grades for their athletes.  How is that better education? All evidence points to the conclusion that there is very likely little educating going on here.

Leaders And Best

August 8th, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

This recruit is going to be taking a heavier credit load at new school to get eligible. No school of "better education" would do that with new transfer student with a bad academic record.  It is your opinion and assumption this is "better education" with absolutely no evidence at all. If anything you are the one pretending here.

Clarence Beeks

August 8th, 2012 at 2:10 PM ^

Edit (to address your edit): Who cares? That also happens all the time. I'm willing to bet at least one of the players you mentioned moved, at some point in their youth (even if just within the district), to attend that school. Which also happens all the time, for academic AND athletic reasons. Happened between the two high schools where I grew up in MI all the time; just usually in middle school.

Leaders And Best

August 8th, 2012 at 2:24 PM ^

I see no problem with a student transferring high schools to seek a better education or athletic opportunities. But I do see a problem in a college coach steering a recruit to a high school to get "taken care of academically." This may or may not involve academic fraud, but this Alabama assistant coach coached at Hoover HS when it was cited in an academic fraud case involving athletes, unauthorized grade changes, and pressuring teachers to give athletes better grades.