Last month, the head of the Texas High School Coaches Association used his letter to coaches in the association’s monthly magazine to criticize IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), saying that the academy could “destroy our profession.”
That came on the heels of three top Texas players transferring to IMG. THSCA president Glen West later clarified that he was not specifically talking about IMG only, but rather using IMG as an example. No other school was mentioned. He also urged Texas schools not to schedule games against IMG.
Former NFL Pro Bowler and current football operations executive vice president Troy Vincent understands the decision that parents of top players have to make when it comes to IMG. His son, Taron, is among the top defensive tackles in 2018 and transferred from Gilman (Baltimore) to IMG.
Taron Vincent has 19 reported offers, including Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and Florida State.
“It was conducive to what we thought our child needed,” Vincent said Friday at the Texas Lyceum conference at TCU, according to the Dallas Morning News. “At the end of the day that’s a parent’s choice. … That’s what he wanted. The everyday specialized training.
“When I hear plucking our kids, that’s my son. I was paying $30,000 a year for his education for at Gilman. Per year. So I was already paying for his education. Now I get the chance to really fill his cup.”
Vincent’s older son, Troy Jr., was a four-star recruit who signed with North Carolina State and then transferred to Iowa State. He attended Gilman.
Here is the text of West’s letter that references IMG:
As president of THSCA, I would like to make you aware of a growing movement that I feel can destroy our profession as we know it. At the current moment, IMG Academy has actively recruited three of our top Texas high school football players to play their senior season for their traveling football team. The reason given for these young athletes to attend this academy is to better prepare for the next level of competition. I adamantly disagree with that reasoning. With every fiber of my body, I feel that the best people to prepare them for the next level are YOU, the COACHES IN THIS STATE. It is my opinion these athletes were cherry picked to attend these academies to build their resumes. The intent is for other athletes with big dreams to also attend these academies for a large price. The paying athletes would attend hoping for the same opportunities as those that were recruited. You, as coaches, can stand proud knowing that WE are in this business not to profit off of our athletes.
There are ways our schools can keep these organizations from co-mingling with our student athlete. 1) Make your parents aware of camps and combines designed to recruit traveling teams. 2) Don’t schedule these traveling teams for competition. 3) Don’t allow your facilities to be used for these events. I will leave you with a quote from the IMG Academy Showcase Brochure, “Preps2Prospect serves as a bridge between the athlete and college coach.” Coaches, we have to FIGHT to remain our athlete’s mentors as they make life decisions.
At the time of the criticism from West, IMG athletic director and co-managing director said in a statement: “We understand and respect THSCA president Glen West’s position with regards to the challenges facing high school coaches in this increasingly competitive athletic environment. IMG Academy is a very unique environment set up to maximize a student-athlete’s development, and we recognize it is not for everyone. Enrolling at IMG requires a special commitment and sacrifice by a family. There are excellent coaches and programs available at public and private schools around the nation and ultimately a family needs to choose what is best for their child to maximize development.”