The state of Florida is teeming with public universities across the state. Most people know the big ones: FSU, UF, Miami, USF, and UCF. There are a few more, including Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers with around 14,000 undergraduate students. They’re currently a top-ranked school for undergraduate ‘Entrepreneurship’.
Florida Gulf Coast University, or FGCU, is a member of the NCAA and operates in 15 intercollegiate sports. You might remember the FGCU Eagles Basketball team from March Madness in 2013 where they made a run all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. The FGCU Men’s Basketball team has actually appeared in the NCAA Tournament three times (2013, 2016, and 2017) which is pretty damn legit for such a small school.
Unlike the other main colleges in Florida, FGCU does not have an NCAA football team. They have a student-ran club team and that caused MASSIVE confusion when a volunteer for this student club sent out ‘offers’ to 100 recruits asking them to come play football at Florida Gulf Coast for a non-existent team.
This prompted the school to have to release a statement about how they don’t even have an NCAA team and the student-run club team is all about recreation. Part of the statement reads:
“Unfortunately, we have been notified that a non-employee, volunteer with the football sport club has extended ‘offers’ to come to FGCU and play football to more than 100 individuals across the country,” the statement said. “This has been done without FGCU’s knowledge or sanction, and has caused a great deal of confusion to not only the individuals receiving the ‘offers,’ but to others reading accounts on social media.”
Here’s the full statement released by the school:
Players took to Twitter to announce these ‘offers’ from FGCU’s non-existent football team:
Quick to respond to these ‘offers’ (more explanation on what was actually offered below), University Vice President and Chief of Staff Susan Evans gave this statement to NaplesNews.com:
“There’s just been a large amount of social media chatter, young people congratulating each other on offers to play football at FGCU,” Evans said. “We just wanted to clear up a few things in case there was some confusion. First off, these offers aren’t being made by anyone in the athletic program as the football club isn’t affiliated with our athletic program. Second, any of these players getting so-called offers would have to apply for admission to the school just like anyone else. And third, there are no plans for football to be added as an NCAA sport.”
This volunteer really dug himself in the trenches this week when things escalate to the point of the school’s top officials having to respond.
So what exactly was offered by this club volunteer? Here’s what Naples Daily News has to say about that:
What he did offer per a form email he sent to players was, “If you would like to post that you have been offered a spot on our roster you can certainly do that. However, please do not post anything false, such as you have been offered a full scholarship or any scholarship please. Or that you have a D1 offer, we are a club team, not D1. You are however, offered a spot on our roster.”
Van Duser described his team in the email as “FGCU club football” and states “We are not in the NCAA and we are not affiliated with the FGCU athletic department.” It added that, “As a club team, we do not have any scholarships for players. You would have to pay for your schooling and housing, etc.”
I think it’s safe to say that by now, all 100 ‘recruits’ have been informed that these weren’t NCAA scholarship offers because FGCU doesn’t even have an NCAA team.
In an era of the NCAA being absolutely insane about the enforcement of their rules, how this volunteer could’ve conceivably thought it was a good idea to send out these ‘offers’ to 100 recruits is fucking beyond me. You’d think this person would’ve run this idea past a thousand higher-ups for approval before ever contacted recruits, and it would’ve most likely been shut down the second it was mentioned to anyone else at the school.
In defense of the volunteer, one of the recruits who received an ‘offer’, Ethan Pratt, told Naples News it was all explained pretty well:
Palmetto Ridge defensive end Ethan Pratt was one of the players receiving an offer, and he re-iterated what Van Duser said in the email.
“It was all explained to us really well,” Pratt said. “They’re offering roster spots, not a scholarship.”
Van Duser said local businesses have offered to donate $2,000 scholarships over the next four years, but the club has not received any of those or assigned them to players.
Since FGCU doesn’t have an NCAA football team and they have no plans to put together an NCAA football team at any point in the future, I sincerely doubt the NCAA will have a case to punish their other sports but it is the NCAA we’re talking about so there’s no telling of what comes next.
For more on this story, you can click here to read the full NaplesNews article.