The athletic component to college admission has been both overrated and underrated, all too often at the expense of the prospective student-athlete. It is true that significant athletic ability and the capacity to contribute to an athletic program can be a component in the college admissions process. It is also true that many college applicants invest all of their (college admission) hope in their athletic prowess, which is often nullified by the peer competition or, more likely, by the lack of academic performance. In almost all cases, selective colleges and universities in the U.S., no matter what anybody says, are looking for student-athletes, young men and women who can do the academic work with success.
Students who desire to compete athletically must make that intention clear to prospective coaches and athletic programs. Do not assume that coaches will find recruits. Also do not assume that, by sending a video and personal stats, you are being pushy. Briefly stated: ‘Recruit Thyself. Each prospective student-athlete MUST make his intentions clear to his high school coach (to enlist support) and the college coaching staff. The use of video and a summary of personal statistics (via an athletic résumé) will be very helpful.
To best position your case, you should:
Prepare an athletic résumé to be sent to athletic departments is recommended for most prospective athletes. It should be a simple one page résumé including name, uniform number, position, statistics, recognitions, address, phone number, school name, address and phone number, GPA, SAT/ACT info, high school or club coaches’ names and contact info.
Plan for an evaluation— With very rare exceptions, college coaches will need to see you play in some way or another. This is why film is helpful. Understand that in the current age, almost all evaluation in almost all sports occurs in the summer. Those student-athletes who are active in summer leagues and tournaments are much more likely to be recruited than those who do not compete in the summer.
Make a video. Yes, videos help. Many college coaches have stacks of videos on their desks. You must ask the coach what kind of video is preferred – game footage, skills, etc. Have your video sent directly to that athletic program.
Gather letters of recommendation. Recommendations from your current coach are most useful when they are sent to other coaches. When a college application asks for a teacher recommendation, they mean a classroom teacher.
Make use of technology and the Internet – Most athletic programs have links at their sites specifically designated for the prospective student-athlete. These links often lead to a questionnaire or an email that will notify the coaching staff of your interest.
Remember that NCAA regulations apply to the coaching staffs. “Contact periods” and the like are not an obstacle for you to visit a college campus and meet with a coach. We recommend that student-athletes do not wait for an official visit invitation that may or may not come. The prudent student-athlete will embark upon an informed and engaged college search in much the same way all other students will do.
Beware of companies that offer to help get you recruited through their apparent connections to athletic programs. The services they offer are often identical to the steps you can take for yourself.
Please do not believe those who would define the term ‘recruit’ as describing something that begins with a college coach. If you want to be recruited, you must make that clear to prospective schools and athletic programs.
Please remember that the college admission office is the final arbiter in granting admission, not the college coach.
If you are considering schools that are NCAA division I or II, you must complete the NCAA initial eligibility review. The NCAA Clearinghouse is notoriously understaffed and overburdened. It is in your best interest to begin this process no later than the summer before your senior year.
Some of you will be interested in establishing eligibility to play sports in an NCAA Division I or II program. The procedure is as follows: