AUSTRALIAN coaches greet the news that young athletes are taking up a scholarship at a US college with a sigh and a resigned shrug.
To borrow a line from The Sopranos, they mutter "waddaya gonna do"? A free education and the experience of a lifetime beckon.
The fear is the athletes are lost to the system here and lost in the system there. The colleges work the kids like huskies with a pale regard for how it develops them as an athlete.
Steve Solomon is acutely aware of the perception. He is also aware of ensuring his reality does not match the perception. Solomon is a man who knows his mind, knows his body and speaks his mind. He is not a person to be cowed by others.
He laboured long on the college dilemma: Would they force him to run himself ragged? How would he go leaving his long-term coach?
Eventually, he accepted the offer from Stanford to study medicine, but resolved to do so on his terms.
"It was a big worry for me coming to the decision because there is a great concern about that among Australian coaches and Australian athletes that when you go to college on a scholarship that you are their athlete and they are getting the most out of you, and sometimes the priority of developing an athlete for an entire career gets lost in developing an athlete to score points at the next NCAA championships," he said while in Australia for the New Year break.
"But that was part of the reason I chose Stanford, because I didn't see that that was going to be the case there. The main thing is I dictate my races at Stanford. That is something I made very clear to the coaching staff when I got there and we will basically race where needed.
"We are going to work on making sure we pay attention to make sure I am performing for my college, which I really want to do, but also to make sure I am in top shape for the major championships later in the year."
How he got there is a whirlwind story. Within two years of running seriously - while in year 12 in 2011 - he won the Australian 400-metre title, which he defended in 2012.
Within the space of another eight months, he went on to take bronze in the world junior championships in a personal best and then to make the Olympic final.
Solomon has done much in a short time, but is mindful that it bears remembering that the two men ahead of him on the podium at the world junior championships in Barcelona were also on the dais in London.
"That motivates me," he said.