Anyone who was ever curious about how quickly top high school sports prospects react to negative news about a school they have committed to got a case study this week, when the NCAA announced a series of harsh sanctions against both the men's basketball and football programs at Georgia Tech.
Consider this timeline:
Early Thursday afternoon, the NCAA announced that Georgia Tech would be forced to vacate its 2009 ACC football title and would face four years of probation, a period which officially began on July 14 and will end July 13, 2015.
By 9 p.m. Thursday night, Dennis Andrews Jr., the Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby High quarterback who many consider to be the school's "quarterback of the future," told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was re-opening his recruiting process. Andrews Jr. had been considered a rock solid commitment to the Yellow Jackets up until the moment when the sanctions against the school were announced.
"It may affect my commitment; I'm going to talk to my dad about it and then we'll see what we want to do," Andrews told the Journal-Constitution. "I know my dad [former Florida State fullback Dennis Andrews Sr.] isn't a fan of NCAA probation at all. They had a bad experience with it when my uncle was at Alabama."
To be fair, Andrews is clearly the exception more than the rule. The athletic dual-threat passer was the only one of the six Class of 2012 Georgia Tech recruits contact by the AJC who claimed he was having second thoughts about his future following the sanctions.
Still, Andrews is as high profile a recruit as Georgia Tech can expect to land in the school's forthcoming class. The rising senior was ranked the 53rd best "athlete" in the nation by Rivals.com, and is one of only two Georgia Tech pledges who is ranked at his position by Rivals.
While it might not be a surprise to have an top high school athlete have some doubts about a program that was heading into sanctions, the fact that Andrews so openly moved away from any commitment to the Yellow Jackets within a matter hours is a striking statement in just how much NCAA scandal can affect a recruit's perception.
If nothing else, such a series of events must paint an ominous picture for programs like Georgia Tech, Ohio State and USC, which have found themselves in the press more for potential NCAA violations than success in recent months.
In the meantime, Georgia Tech has to hope that it hears more notes of confirmation from other recruits like Gulf Shores (Ala.) High linebacker Tyler Stargel.
"One of my friends texted me about it and I thought they were kidding," said linebacker Tyler Stargel of Gulf Shores, Ala. "Then I saw it for myself and read about it. I think it's a major thing for any school when they get NCAA probation. But it's not like Georgia Tech was paying anybody.
"Everybody knows that kind of stuff goes on at every school. It doesn't really get caught. But every once in a while, someone does get caught for something."
Stargel said he remains committed to the Yellow Jackets. "I don't think the NCAA probation affects me in the four years I'll be there. It doesn't make me feel any different about Georgia Tech. I'm still going there."
- Georgia Tech