NEW YORK — Highly regarded prospect Brandon Knight signed a financial-aid offer rather than a national letter of intent to play basketball for Kentucky. There's a difference.
A financial-aid offer gives Knight greater freedom to play for another school if conditions arose that changed his mind on playing for Kentucky.
If Knight signed a national letter of intent and then decided he didn't want to play for UK, he would have to go through an appeals process with no guarantee of gaining his athletic freedom.
But Knight said keeping his options open was not the reason he signed a financial- aid offer rather than a national letter of intent.
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"My parents advised me to do it," he said Friday. "I'm not sure why."
When asked how firm he was committed to play for UK, Knight said, "Pretty firm. That's why I committed. And I don't plan on going anywhere else."
UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy said Knight's family alerted all schools involved in the recruiting process that the player would not sign a binding national letter of intent.
"We're satisfied," said Peevy, who described the financial-aid offer as more significant than a verbal commitment but less binding than a national letter of intent.
Dave Telep, a longtime analyst for the recruiting service Scout.com, said that such agreements are not prevalent, but do occur "every now and then."
Usually, a prospect and school enter into that kind of agreement because the official signing period has expired, Telep said.
Under rules for the national letter of intent, an athlete is bound to the school even if the coach leaves. That would not be the case with a financial-aid offer.
In Calipari's final recruiting year for Memphis, recruits signed modified national letters of intent that included language nullifying the agreement if the coach left the school. Calipari indeed departed after the season for UK. Within weeks, news broke of an NCAA investigation of the Memphis program.
The NCAA subsequently banned such modifications of the national letter of intent.