Where there's smoke, there's fire.
In this case, most Pirate fans have just been exposed to the fire that is the Aquille Carr situation after being subjected to inhaling its smoke for months. Matt Bracken of the Baltimore Sun spoke with Van Whitfield, head coach at Princeton Day (Md.), who told the Sun what has been predicted for some time: Aquille Carr will not sign with Seton Hall in the fall signing period, which begins tomorrow and runs through November 21st.
Despite the admission that Carr will not sign in the fall, Van Whitfield told Matt Bracken that Aquille is still committed to the Pirates. "Absolutely," said Van Whitfield, Carr's coach at Princeton Day Academy in Beltsville, Maryland. "We actually play at St. Benedict's [in Newark] on Thursday." While Bracken's article title says that Carr will sign in the spring, it is interesting to note that there is no direct quote from Van Whitfield that this will indeed happen, just the assumption that if Carr doesn't sign in the fall that means he will sign in the spring.
What this means: First off, lets establish that it is not required for recruits to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) nor is it required for schools to use NLIs. The purpose of a NLI, in the eyes of a school, is that it prohibits other schools from recruiting a signed recruit, whereas a "verbal commitment" does nothing of the sort. From a recruit's perspective, signing a NLI guarantees an athletic scholarship for a minimum of one full academic year and squelches any doubters of their commitment to a particular school.
So, with the general NLI guidelines fleshed out, why would Aquille Carr not sign a NLI? NLIs are binding in that if a recruit who signs one does not complete a full academic year at the institution they signed with, they will lose a year of eligibility if they transfer and do not receive a release from the school they are transferring from. A player would receive a release if a head coach is fired or in other uncommon situations. However, NLIs are rendered null and void if a signee is deemed a non-qualifier by the NCAA, which is particularly relevant to Aquille Carr's case.
After looking over all of the evidence at hand, I would deduce that some sort of concrete academic issues have been communicated between Carr and the Seton Hall staff. After being thought over, both parties came to the conclusion that it would not be beneficial to sign in the fall and potentially not at all.
This is certainly not a conclusion to the Aquille Carr saga. As stated, NLIs do not have to be signed; Carr can pull off what some sources would call a statistical improbability and qualify. However, what is indisputably curious is the fact that a player who has been committed to a particular school for over ten months decided not to sign a NLI with that school, which would formally commit themselves to their suitor.
So, in conclusion, I ask: If there isn't any fire, why is there so much damn smoke?