Do you dream about sinking that winning buzzer shot in the Sweet Sixteen tournament? How about celebrating New Year’s Day with a touchdown at the Rose Bowl? While nearly 60 percent of U.S. high school students participate in athletics, according to the NCAA, only between three and 10 percent of those students (depending on the sport) will compete beyond the high school interscholastic level. If you want to get your game on in college, many schools offer club and/or intramural sports programs in addition to their NCAA Division I, II or III varsity sports teams, giving students of all interests and skill levels an opportunity to play. For those students who are interested in or considering athletic recruitment for varsity sports, our experts are here to address some of the most common myths about the process so you can get the ball rolling!
Myth: If you are being recruited, ability trumps academics.
TRUTH: Academics count! No matter how gifted you are or how much a coach wants you to play on his or her team, the coach cannot guarantee your admission! All recruited athletes need to meet specific GPA requirements and must complete a specific number of courses in a core curriculum from grades 9 through 12. All prospective student-athletes must also achieve an adequate score on either the SAT or the ACT (usually comparable to other students who are applying). The requirements vary based on the division and level of the program to which you are being recruited. You can review the NCAA eligibility guidelines at http://www.ncaa.org. Once in college, you must maintain your eligibility from year to year by maintaining your GPA and completing a specified percentage of your degree requirements.
Myth: If you are a gifted athlete, you will easily get a free ride through college.
TRUTH: Only NCAA Division I and II colleges can offer athletic scholarships. Even if you receive an athletic scholarship, you must maintain your academic performance so as not to jeopardize your eligibility. Division III programs can offer only financial aid and academic grant money to qualified students. Also note that schools in the Ivy League do not offer athletic scholarships.
Myth: If you receive a letter from a coach, you are being recruited.
TRUTH: Coaches send out thousands of letters to high school athletes. This preliminary letter means that a coach (or in some cases just a database) knows your name and that you play the sport they coach. Until the coach calls you, invites you to the school, and makes you a formal offer to join their program, you are not being recruited. In addition, coaches cannot contact you directly until June 15th of your junior year or later.
Myth: If you are talented enough, the coaches will find you.
TRUTH: The ball is in your court! If you want to compete at the varsity level, you need to proactively contact coaches and get yourself noticed. Begin by asking your high school coach what level he/she believes you could play in college. After this initial assessment, look at the athletic programs at the colleges on your list and where appropriate, send your athletic resume to the respective coaches. Follow up with a phone call and your best-game video. If you play a spring sport such as baseball or lacrosse, your junior year will be the only opportunity for a college to evaluate your play. Keep track of your timeline!
At the completion of your junior year, make sure to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse/ Eligibility Center so that they can certify your eligibility to play college-level varsity sports. To do so, your guidance counselor will need to send transcripts demonstrating that you have completed at least six semesters of appropriate coursework.
In sports, it’s important to know and follow the rules that applies to the recruitment process too! The world of collegiate athletics can be complex, and as a student-athlete, it’s up to you to stay on top of the requirements for eligibility, recruitment, and financial aid. If you would benefit from extra guidance in these areas, our expert athletic counselors can help assess your goals, analyze your skills and performances, and provide counsel on collegiate athletic options. If you stay organized and focus on finding the athletic programs and schools that are the best fit for you, academically and socially, your college search is sure to be a slam dunk!