Blog Entry

Rice coach understands what commitment means

Posted on: February 4, 2012 10:51 am
Edited on: February 5, 2012 2:46 am

Like thousands of other gifted high school football recruits, David Wilganowski and his family probably took a big sigh of relief and celebrated that the madness that has become National Signing Day was finally behind them.

It's around this time--just a few days after colleges announce who they've landed--that we tend to start learning about those other kids, who may have bought into hollow promises only to realize that they've been left out in the margins, squeezed by the world of big-time college sports. It happens so much now that we shrug our shoulders at coaches making cutthroat "business" decisions or when both players and coaches mangle the definition of the word "commitment" that the details behind the 6-4, 230-pound defensive end's signing with the Rice Owls Wednesday should make you smile.

Oh, Wilganowski, like the rest of the recruits who faxed in their letters a few days ago, was a big deal in his hometown. He'd committed to play D1 football on a full scholarship (to Rice) in June. He was a team captain and Homecoming King as a senior and starred in other sports (track and power lifting). The kid from Rudder High School in Bryan, Texas was also Academic All-State and picked the Owls over offers from among others, Army, Navy and Air Force.

Then, Wilganowski's life took a dramatic turn. At the start of Wilganowski's senior season, he collapsed during a game. His heart had given out. Paramedics had to revive him. Wilganowski was diagnosed with something called Long Q-T Syndrome. He had a heart defibrillator implanted into his chest. Doctors informed him his football career was over.

His mom, Susan told Fox Sports Houston she thought there was "no chance" her son would be on an athletic scholarship this fall.

However, Rice head coach David Bailiff remained committed to the kid and to his promise to welcome him as part of the Owls football program. On Wednesday, the coach was proud to announce that Wilganowski was getting that full scholarship.

We ask those young men to commit to us, and we tell them we're gonna be there through thick and thin," Bailiff said. "That's how that works. Your word has to be good."

Sadly, that's something that seems like it's becoming pretty rare these days.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Rice

Since: Feb 14, 2010
Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:47 pm

Rice coach understands what commitment means

Cudos to the NCAA for making it possible for coaches and Universities to act in such an honorable manner.  In Oklahomas' 2012 class they too have a kid who will never see the field as a player.  Laith Harlow a TE from Godby HS in Tallahassee commited early to OU, then suffered a career ending injury to his back.   
The fact is, this type of scholarship does not count agaist the programs limit of 85.  These kids will be moved to a "Medical Scholarship" and will lose all future NCAA eligability, the University will still pick up all the costs associated with a "Full Boat" scholarship,  So cudos to Rice, Oklahoma and any other University with such courage, honor and commitment. 
Thank you to the NCAA and the University Presidents.  You got this one Right! 

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:53 am

Rice coach understands what commitment means

Much respect goes out to the the coach and university. Well done.

Since: May 22, 2008
Posted on: February 6, 2012 8:11 am

Rice coach understands what commitment means

Got to love this story personally tired of the drama on both sides with signing day kids with 10 hats on table oull one out of bag recuiters offering broken promises these are the kind of stories we need more of

Since: May 7, 2011
Posted on: February 6, 2012 6:24 am

Rice coach understands what commitment means

"Much Respect!!!" goes out to Rice University as well as the coach....."Nuff Said!!!".CoolCoolCool

Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: February 5, 2012 11:33 pm

Rice coach understands what commitment means

Wow this is really inspiring and exciting to hear.  I wish more coaches would show this kind of character!

Since: Aug 7, 2011
Posted on: February 5, 2012 11:07 pm

Rice coach understands what commitment means

nicolas saban could learn from this.

Since: Oct 1, 2009
Posted on: February 5, 2012 9:59 pm

Rice coach understands what commitment means

Great story, that's the kind of coach I would want my son to play for.

Since: Jan 2, 2012
Posted on: February 5, 2012 7:00 pm

Rice coach understands what commitment means

I remember the Rice Owls. They used to be a football power of sorts in the South-west Conference in the 50s and early '60s. The last time they were in an important Bowl Game was way back in 1961 when Jake Gibbs led the Old Miss Rebels to a 14-6 victory over Rice. The Owls actually played a pretty good game. But, that was then, and this is now.

It is probably easier to do the 'right' thing when you are a football lightweight; however, the right thing was done. This is a heartwarming story, and it is hoped the young man will be able to contribute to Rice University both on and off the field. Coach Bailiff has earned much good will, and shown other coaches how it is done correctly. Let's hope the Owls have a stellar season and rise to football glory again. The same goes for Ole Miss!

Since: Mar 7, 2007
Posted on: February 5, 2012 5:37 pm

Rice coach understands what commitment means

Mack Brown offered Matt Nader, a 4 star OL, from Austin Westlake, when he was a Junior.  During his Senior season he collapsed on the field during a football game.  Fortunately, there was a defib and his heart started beating properly after he was shocked.  Mack honored his offer and Matt graduated last year on a full scholarship. He worked the sidelines as an assistant his entire career. His father was a doctor and could have easily paid his son's way through school.<br />

Since: Oct 14, 2011
Posted on: February 5, 2012 5:22 pm

Rice coach understands what commitment means

Great story

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