Thursday, January 29, 2009

Belt Tightening in College Recruiting

From everything I've been reading lately, this is the topic du jour. When the NYT tackles it, you know it's for real. The gist of it is that with the economy in the slumps, college programs are allocating less resources for recruiting, so coaching staffs, and recruits both have to be more resourceful in finding each other.

As a recruit, you can't control what the coaching staff does but you can control what you do. You should assume that it will now be harder to be found and/or seen because there is less money for programs to get out there. But you should also assume that their needs haven't decreased--just their budgets. Your job is to work even harder to get your information into the hands of anyone you might be interested in. Get good quality video and post it on one or more of the websites that maintain recruiting info for student-athletes. Send a separate copy to a handful of the coaches on your A-list. Send a well written and personal letter to these coaches, directing them to where they can find your video and stats posted. By personal, I mean tell them enough about you to get them interested, and mention enough about what you know about their program (and how you would fit well into it) so they know you've done your homework and are really interested in them. Everyone wants to be wanted--coaches are no exception.

The opportunities are still out there, you just may have to work a little harder to make sure they find you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Role of JV in College Sports

Just read a personal story in The Chronicle about a girl who was recruited for D III sports and was relegated to the JV squad after expecting varsity play. The writer (her parent) was very upset and felt that she was recruited to bolster admissions numbers for this school--not because they really wanted her athletic ability. Apparently this is not an unheard of practice.

Makes me wonder just what is the role of JV in a D III school? Unlike D I programs where athletes move out because of the draft, or move in from Juco's with two years of college experience already, D III programs have kids that are likely to be playing for four years unless they quit the team on their own (which often happens if they're not playing later in their career). So it makes sense that if you're going to be playing against kids that are 3-4 years bigger, faster, and more experienced, a year of JV could help prepare you for what's to come. And it allows a broader group of kids to continue competing in college.

How would you feel if you were recruited, expecting varsity play, and ended up playing JV?

Friday, January 9, 2009

What happens to college recruiting when programs go under?

I hope this isn't the beginning of a trend. Just read an article about a D II school eliminating it's football program because of budget cuts and a $500,000 deficit that the program was running under every year. I guess they were able to swallow it when the economy was better but it became untenable in the current environment.

Is this just the beginning? Will we be seeing lots of cuts in collegiate athletics, particularly in the smaller, less funded sports? Will it affect the number or dollar amount of scholarships?

If you're on the recruiting trail, try to find out as much as you can about a program's financial health and future. You don't want to be the kid who starts out in a program and has the rug pulled out from under you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Why Does a Kid Lie About College Recruitment

I saw some ESPN footage today from a story about a high school football player who lied to his family, coaches, and community about getting recruited to play D I football--to the point where the school had an assembly for him to announce his college pick. He had fabricated the whole story because he wanted it so bad, didn't want to disappoint anyone (himself probably at the top of the list), and once he had started the lie, it escalated wildly before he could think of a way to stop it.

This is a sad commentary. It's not so much that sports plays such a dominant and important role in our culture. I get that. There's great value for both the participants and the spectators. It's that nothing was acceptable to him accept a major D I roster spot. No one from his community had ever played D I football and he had to have the bragging rights. And it basically shamed him and derailed his life.

His high school coach left his job over it, the kid ended up in therapy, and the community was pretty shocked by the whole thing. How can this happen?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Golden Opportunities for Girls in College Recruiting

There are tremendous opportunities for athletic scholarships for girls and I'm not sure how many people know about them.

The vast majority of men's athletic scholarships are awarded for football--between 63 (D-I AA) and 85 (D-I A) per NCAA school. The next highest number is only 18/school for D I men's ice hockey. Because there is no women's football, and because of the impact of Title IX, there are loads of athletic scholarships available to women to make up for this inequity.

There are 24 sports in which the NCAA allots scholarships for women compared to 17 for men. In the sports where scholarships are awarded for both genders, the number awarded to women is equal to or greater than the number awarded to men in all but one sport.

Here is a list of sports where scholarships are available to women and not to men: archery, badminton, bowling, equestrian, field hockey, rowing, rugby, softball, squash, synchronized swim, and team handball. The sports where scholarships are awarded to both genders: basketball, cross country/track and field, fencing, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, skiing, soccer, swimming/diving, tennis, volleyball, and water polo.

Obviously, not every school is going to offer all of these sports and some of these may not have been sports you've considered previously. But if you're in early high school and you're looking for something new to pick up, try one. It may pay off handsomely later.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

When the passion goes, what happens to college recruiting

Just saw a really interesting story here:

Here's a girl who was a stud basketball player with a full ride to U. Conn--but she lost her passion for basketball long ago and covered it up for 5 years so she wouldn't disappoint anyone or look weak. It finally caught up with her and she had the courage to come clean about it and move on to play volleyball at a smaller school because it made her happy.

You can imagine the disappointment of her coach, her teammates, her parents, and even herself as she came to this decision. But ultimately, they supported her and her parents, in particular, helped her move forward.

For everyone who wants to get recruited for college sports, it takes as much passion as skill and talent to play in college. Otherwise, it's just another job and one that will take far too much time to be worthwhile. And if you've got the passion, it can make up for shortcomings in other areas.

Friday, January 2, 2009

High school juniors, start thinking college recruiting

If you're a high school junior with hopes of playing in college, I hope you've begun doing your research and assembling a list of which colleges are right for you. If you haven't, please pick up Put Me In, Coach ( and work through the section on finding the right fit. It's now January and time to start putting together the information you want to get into the hands of college coaches for recruiting. You should get all of this out by spring time at the latest. Please don't wait until senior year. And you can also start contacting (e-mail) just to let them know you're out there, interested in their program, and planning to send them your information.

One more thing. You can "legally" contact coaches before they can contact you--so do it. A motivated kid who shows interest in a school is a good lead for a coach to start with. If you're not right for that program, don't expect much. But if you are, it will get you on the radar screen.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Are Parents Too Pushy in College Recruiting

Do you wonder how to strike the right balance between providing support and being too pushy?

I spend a lot of time in my book talking about the ways parents can help and the importance of their involvement, but I recently heard an anecdote from a very experienced D I coach who said that the best team is a team of orphans. I guess his point is for parents to keep their nose out of the coach/athlete business.

He's probably right. There's a lot of ways to be involved behind the scenes but parental intervention with a coach probably isn't going to get the outcomes you want. Any thoughts or experiences with this?