The college recruiting process can be a daunting effort if it is not well planned and executed with organization and enthusiasm from start to finish. Below is a simple snapshot of terms and athletic recruiting rules and procedures you will run into as you navigate the college search for athletes.
Recruiting contacts are essential for both college coaches and families to become familiar with each other. Remember, the college coach will directly influence the prospect, especially during the four-year college experience. It is important to respectfully acquaint the family with the coach, the program and the coach’s philosophy to determine the likelihood of a good match. Coaches are bound by NCAA rules that prohibit them from contacting prospects and families during certain times. Families, on the other hand, can contact coaches at any time, with rare exceptions.
These are opportunities for college coaches to assess the academic and athletic ability of a prospect. Evaluations typically occur off-campus and coaches are permitted no more than 7 “recruiting opportunities” (contacts and/or evaluations), with no more than 3 opportunities resulting in face-to-face contact. (There are individual sport exceptions.)
Evaluation timetables are sport-specific. Recruiting calendars for your sport of interest can be found in the NCAA Manual and are available to view at http://www.ncaa.org. The evaluation offers the coach a chance to get an early read on future prospects. It is also used as a recruiting tactic by college coaches in order to create visibility. This “celebrity effect” can have a powerful impact on a prospect and the family, especially if the evaluation is timed and communicated properly.
The NCAA Eligibility Center is an organization that collaborates with the NCAA in the area of student-athlete eligibility. Basically, the job of the EligibilityCenter is to determine eligibility for all incoming Division I and Division II freshmen student-athletes. This is achieved through the evaluation of high school academic records. Each division has individual standards for entering freshmen.Student-athletes can register with the EligibilityCenter either at their high school, or online at http://web1.ncaa.org/eligibilitycenter/common/.
Unofficial Visit: The unofficial visit is a great way for prospects and families to begin to become familiar with a number of colleges and universities. It is a visit that is made at the expense of the family and can be taken at any time (with few exceptions), including before July 1 following the junior year in high school. Institutions typically offer information sessions and tours which can be very useful in gathering general information. (Before visiting, contact the Admissions Office to determine times and dates for information sessions and tours).
Official Visit: The official visit is one that is paid in part or in full by the institution, can be taken beginning the first day of classes in the senior year of high school and is typically the “clincher” when a prospect and family are narrowing down their final choices. These visits provide a great opportunity for the family to witness first-hand, how the entire process (social interaction with team, team practice, attending classes, living in the dormitories etc.) operates from a “production” standpoint.
- Telephone contact: College coaches are bound by very strict rules to when and how often they are permitted to contact prospects. On the other hand, prospects and families have virtually no limitations here.
- E-mail: Probably the most effective means of communicating with the college coaches. Coaches can begin initiating e-mail contact beginning September 1st in the prospects junior year in high school.
- Face to Face Contact: There is no better way to present oneself than through a face to face meeting and you can achieve this well before the senior year!
- Control the Field: As a former college Coach I remember clearly the edge I had over families and their children during the recruiting process. That said, I suggest making a concerted effort to grow an educational awareness of NCAA procedures and develop a clear plan to how your personal college search quest will proceed. Remember…This is a major “life decision” our children will make.
This article is only the “tip of the iceberg” about information you should gather before launching your college search effort. An educational approach where we see the brass ring and understand how to bridge the gap between start and finish will not only give families an edge in college recruiting, it will make it an enjoyable and memorable journey.
Victory Collegiate Consulting