USF to honor Rafferty's scholarship offer
TAMPA, Jan 16, 2013 (Tampa Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The University of South Florida will honor all football scholarship offers made to prospects who had verbally committed to former coach Skip Holtz, USF spokesman Jeremy Sharpe said Wednesday.
That had seemed to be the plan all along.
During a Dec. 2 news conference to announce Holtz's firing, six days before Willie Taggart was hired at USF, Bulls athletic director Doug Woolard said, "We've entered into a partnership with those prospective athletes ... we're going to hold up our commitment."
But the last few days, USF has battled negative public perception after it appeared Taggart's staff had rescinded a scholarship offer to Robinson High offensive lineman Connor Rafferty, who verbally committed to Holtz last summer.
According to Rafferty's mother, Tracy, the player received a late-night telephone call Sunday from USF assistant coach Walt Wells. Essentially, the player was told to look elsewhere, that he was no longer a front-line priority.
Rafferty, 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, has since lined up a weekend trip to Eastern Kentucky and received an offer from Samford.
Rafferty, an honor student and a Class 5A second-team all-state selection, and his family have scheduled a meeting today with USF coaches to consider the possibilities.
According to NCAA rules, Taggart is not allowed to comment on any prospect until he is officially signed to a scholarship. National Signing Day is Feb. 6.
According to Rafferty's mother, the communication seemed clear that USF wanted to move on.
"We realize that new coaches come in and make their own decisions," Rafferty's mother said. "Had they said (when Taggart was hired), 'You may or may not have this scholarship,' then we could've opened it up and had time to look elsewhere.
"We thought everything was fine until we got that call about 10:30 Sunday night. We're looking at about three weeks before signing day. That puts you in a bind. Connor wasn't playing games with anybody. He committed to USF and stuck to it. Sometimes, it doesn't seem like it's a two-way street."
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