NCAA Letters, calls and emails from college coaches
Knowing how to respond to a coach and what to do when you get these responses is a crucial process in securing a sport scholarship. For coaches giving out scholarships is like running a business, think of yourself as an employee, the coach is trying to get the best players they can for as little money each as they can afford. A general rule coaches will enforce is you can’t lose scholarship money but you can increase what you are getting. Despite this, full scholarships are a possibility.
How soon will coaches contact me?
It is during your sophomore year of high school (10th Grade) that college coaches will generally begin showing interest in potential athletes. However, it is not until a student’s junior year (11th Grade) that any commitment or official visits can be made. A good rule of thumb is to try and begin your recruiting process a year or two in advance. If you leave yourself less than six months, especially an international student, you will have a difficult time getting everything done. Most coaches build athlete portfolios and will anticipate different athletes on their teams a couple years in advance. This being the case it makes it very difficult to have a coach show much interest if you tell them you are looking at starting college in six months’ time. If a coach is interested in you at late notice they may not necessarily have any scholarship money available for you.
If you have done your research, contacted coaches and received a promise of an academic or athletic advancement you are probably really excited. Although this can be an exciting time you need to know what it means.
It is not possible to be committed during your sophomore year of high school. Colleges are not allowed to contact you before September 1 of your junior year except in basketball where coaches can send you mail by June 15 of your sophomore year. Although the schools cannot contact you at this time, you should know that you can get in touch with the coaches at your own will. You may receive a questionnaire from a coach at some stage during high school; this is a positive sign that a coach is interested in you. If you receive a questionnaire from a college you should complete it and send it back as soon as possible because you won’t be the only athlete filling out the same questionnaire. A coach may see tardiness as disinterest, especially if someone else gets it back within a week of receiving it. If you are contacted by a coach before the set time frame you and the coach are in breach of NCAA rules and regulations. If a coach does contact you prior to September 1 of your junior year, it becomes your responsibility to let the coach know that they are in breach of the rules and should wait until the required date. Although this kind of thing is unlikely it could happen and it is important to know how to deal with it.
Many athletes call coaches before these dates by using toll free calls. This makes it difficult for the NCAA to monitor calls. Just because this happens doesn’t mean it’s okay, you would be breaking the rules and could lose your eligibility if caught communicating with a college coach when you are not allowed to.
To keep up to date with any new changes to the recruitment guidelines you can visit the NCAA website. www1.ncaa.org/membership/membership_svcs/recruiting_calenders/index.html
What coaches want to see
College coaches want to know that you will be able to stay in school, stay out of trouble and become a key part of the team. Coaches want you to work towards a goal and complete your studies. Coaches hate when you say “I don’t know what I want to do or I just want to play sports.” This is not the answer a coach is looking for. Going to college is not just about competing in your sport you also have to go to class.
Coaches want to be able to understand you and make sure you will fit well into the program. When talking with coaches you should do the following:
– Make sure you know your stats, your strengths and what you can offer to the team and program
– Know your class grades (GPA)
– Know your goals
– Be prepared to speak about what you want to achieve from college
– Have a list of question you would like to ask the coach about the team and college, even what type of classes and academic programs you can study.
You should always have a copy of your sports ebook nearby in case a coach calls you, this is the best way to tell the coach your latest information and stats. You should also have a notebook with possible questions to ask the coach, you can obtain possible questions from the Athletes USA website. Anytime you think of something to ask a coach write it down straight away so you won’t forget it.
If a coach comes to your home there is a pretty good chance the coach is very interested in having you on their team. The purpose of a house visit will be to give you the chance to ask questions about the program. You will also be able to see what the coach is like as a person.
In the old days athletes had to sign in front of coaches, not anymore, however verbal commitments are used more often during home visits and over the phone. Try not to be pressured into doing something you don’t feel comfortable with, a coach will use a house visit to talk about their program and how good they think it is. They are probably going to try and get you to commit while they are there but be sure you are ready to do so if you do. If you don’t decide while they are with you, a coach will generally give you a week to get back to them. If you wait any longer than the allotted time there is a chance you’ll be dropped from their recruiting list so don’t be tardy.
A verbal commitment means giving a coach your commitment to him either in person, over the phone or through email. It doesn’t mean you are legally committed in any contract. Many athletes believe when they verbally commit they are signed to the college. This is partly true, the college is not likely to turn you away after verbally committing unless you do something to break the rules or become ineligible. A common misconception is that when you have verbally committed is you’re guaranteed a scholarship, this is something you must be careful of, it is still up to you to negotiate with the coach to try and get that scholarship.
Knowing the college recruiting rules
Knowing the rules of the NCAA you will have will help you make more informed decisions. Make sure you know the recruiting dates, which you read in an earlier post. Rules and regulations can change so you should keep yourself up to date with the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA websites. The different athletic associations have very strict rules about how coaches can recruit; these rules also regulate how coaches can behave during recruitment periods.
Coaches may talk badly about other colleges but do understand they are competing with each other for athletes, talking poorly about location, weak academic rankings, party reputation, or coaching program are just a couple of things you may hear. Remember you are the one deciding so do your own research and make the choice yourself. Many athletes aren’t recruited because they don’t understand the recruitment process. You may miss a deadline, academic requirement or even spoke to a coach at the wrong time; it is your responsibility to know these rules ahead of time.
If you excel in your sport and are a prospect to a number of schools you need to make sure that all the coaches are aware of your age and year in high school. It is not likely that the NCAA will penalize you for notifying coaches of this information as you are acting in the best interest of the coaches and avoiding any trouble.
What coaches wish you knew
After speaking with many coaches they have all said that they wished that the athletes were more informed about the recruitment process. Coaches also feel that parents should have a better understanding too. Parents get confused easily by the recruitment process, often misunderstanding what school records a coach needs and not knowing that just because a coach contacts their child that they won’t necessarily get a scholarship.
Both parents and athletes must understand that you can only be eligible for recruitment when you enter the correct time frame for recruitment and are eligible academically.
Letters of interest are sent to athletes simply to see which athletes respond. These letters help coaches know which athletes are interested in playing on their team. Coaches expect you to know how the recruiting process works and are not required to help you every step of the way.