Thursday, June 24, 2010

Report: Dartmouth Recruit Spurns Wisconsin, Going to Dartmouth

The soap opera involving forward Matt Lindblad, who played last season for Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League, took a (perhaps final) turn this week.

Last week, it was widely reported that Lindblad, who had long ago committed to Dartmouth, was going to Wisconsin instead.

This brought outrage from some fans, who decided Wisconsin was the Axis of Evil for poaching someone else's recruit. That Dartmouth doesn't offer athletic scholarships complicated things a bit, because there is nothing tying Lindblad to that commitment until he starts taking classes. There is no letter of intent.

It appears, however, that Dartmouth gets the last laugh on this.

According to sources, Lindblad, making a lot of news in college hockey before ever playing an NCAA game, has decided to turn down Wisconsin, and will attend Dartmouth after all.

Badger blogger Chuck Schwartz confirms.
I've heard multiple stories from multiple people that there is a lot more to the Lindblad story that meets the eye, and since he's officially going back to Dartmouth, it's not worth publishing. I will say this, It was Lindblad's decision to originally decommit from Dartmouth and look into Wisconsin as well as a host of other schools. The criticism that Eaves has faced for allegedly recruiting a committed player (no matter your opinion on the subject), is totally unwarranted.

In that same blog post, Schwartz notes that 2012 commit Jordan Schmaltz, who gave his verbal at age 14, is reopening his commitment and will not attend Wisconsin.

If this is the case, it's clear that Wisconsin is not the Axis of Evil. At least, not because of this.

Either way, the Lindblad and Schmaltz stories showcase a problem in college athletics. Our favorite team -- no matter who it is -- has made a business out of getting commitments from young men who sometimes aren't ready to make those major life decisions. They can end up succumbing to family pressures, girlfriend pressures, peer pressures, and other things that keep them from being able to make sound decisions they can stick to.

When these kids change their minds, as many are prone to doing at that age, we assume something nefarious happened, when that's not always the case.

In the cases of Lindblad and Schmaltz, they can consider themselves lucky. Oftentimes, these decisions aren't questioned or second-guessed until names have been placed on dotted lines. That written agreement makes it virtually impossible to make this kind of change.

Either way, we're probably too far gone now to reinvent the wheel, or to seriously rethink the way colleges recruit.

Instead, fans are going to have to get used to players sometimes changing their minds. It doesn't mean we automatically indict someone for immoral -- even if not illegal -- behavior.

Sometimes, it isn't about that.

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