I was hired at an advertising agency after telling the CEO this anecdote:
I worked at a software company in the engineering department (although I was only a technical writer). I understood the product; the sales staff did not. The salesman asked me to join him on sales calls because, he said, unlike the actual engineers in the department, I could talk about it with prospects in some kind of human-like way (I paraphrase - God forbid I should have to testify about this long-ago moment under oath.) I told the salesman that though I had always disdained selling, I thought I could do it in this case because "I believe in the product." I'll never forget his response: he laughed out loud. "That's not selling. Anyone can sell something if they believe in it."
My future CEO also laughed, and then said the difference at the ad agency was "We always believe in what we are selling." (I later realized that that meant we always "come to believe" what our paychecks depended on us believing - which is not dissimilar to any other place I worked.)
Anyway, the problem with the carefrontation stories is that they all assume that basketball is the most important thing for the kid. In 99 percent of the athletes' cases (and 100 percent of the coaches' cases), that may be right. But what the NW case suggests is another possibility: the kid likes Northwestern, values the degree he will get there, and is content to compete for a spot on the floor and not get it while getting a Northwestern education.
I am sure it is naïveté to imagine that's mostly or even often the case. However, the narrative the coaches spin seems to disregard it.
And it does make everything they were selling BS.
I'm with Del Wilson - there needs to be a search firm for recruited athletes.