RECRUITING 2.0 | Scholastic.com
“If You Are Good Enough, They Will Find You”
August , 2007
By Chris Krause, President and CEO
National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA)
n 1983 when I was a junior in high school, I received a good piece of advice: "If you are
good enough, they will find you."
When my first three recruiting letters arrived from college coaches from Michigan,
Tennessee and Notre Dame, I figured I would have my choice of schools.
I could not have been more mistaken. It wasn't until I called the coaches to express my
interest that they requested videotape. My father and I made 10 highlight tapes and we
sent them out for evaluation.
It was only then that we received invitations for official visits and scholarship offers. Had I
not gotten involved at the right time, I would have missed out on the once-in-a-life-time
opportunity to receive a full athletic scholarship (room, board, books, tuition, and fees) to
Not to mention the fact that they took care of my application fees and, most importantly,
aided in the admissions process. The technology we used was a telephone and a VCR.
In addition to telephones and VCRs there are now a lot more modes of communication that
have expedited the recruiting process. Over the last 20 years, changes in NCAA rules, an
increase in student-athlete participation levels and technology such as cell phones, text
messages, emails, and the Internet have drastically changed the landscape of the college
recruiting world from the way coaches contact students to how recruiting budgets are
stretched and so much more.
An example of NCAA rule changes include the introduction of title IX in 1972, which prohibits
sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal financial assistance.
At that time, only 1 out of 27 participating student-athletes were women. In 1998, that
number rose to 1 and 3. Colleges are now inching closer towards the 50:50 ratio of women
athletes to men. Furthermore, the number of Division I-A full scholarships for football has
declined over the last two decades, showing how scholarship money has spread to other
sports throughout the years.
NCAA rules now afford much tighter communication. Colleges can send only one letter with
a questionnaire to a prospect before September 1 of his or her junior year.
Student-athletes can call a college coach anytime, but coaches cannot officially call for most
sports until July 1 of their senior year.
This opens the line of communication. Student-athletes now take unlimited visits, starting
with their freshman year. However, they are limited to only five official visits, which are
paid for by the colleges and are usually taken during their senior year.
With all these changes, I strongly believe the role of the high school coach and athletic
director is more important in the recruiting process than ever before. The best thing that
high school coaches and athletic directors are doing today is providing recruiting education
workshops to athletes and parents. That is what our college coaches are looking for: The
roles of the student-athlete and the parent and how to navigate the waters of NCAA rules.
However, high school ADs and coaches have their hands full when it comes to assisting
student-athletes make that leap to college athletics. There are more student-athletes now
then ever before.
In 1981, there were 642 baseball programs, and in 2007, more than 1,000. In 1981,
40,000 football players suited up in uniform and today (2007) there are 79,000 strong.
This leaves us with a lot of thirsty kids for sports and a lot of college coaches with more
prospects to choose from, but with less recruiting money to evaluate talent.
With all this talent in the recruiting pool and with such stiff competition, student-athletes,
now more then ever, must assume the leadership role in building relationships to find the
right college fit
The current technology helps college coaches develop savvy recruiting systems, but most
importantly helps them expand shrinking budgets. Previously, our coaches
players from local scouts and high school coaches with whom they had developed a relationship. If they were lucky, they might be able to find some VHS video of the athlete.
Coaches today are exposed to a vastly larger number of potential prospects from different
parts of the country, just by the power of the Internet, making their recruiting dollars go
An example of this occurred at the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)
Convention in January 2007, where I met with football coaches from Marist College.
This DI-AA school in Poughkeepsie, NY, now recruits players from Chicago, Las Vegas, and
California. New technology such as streaming video, allows this previously provincial
recruiting college to expand its recruiting presence nationally.
Another experience I witnessed first hand involved Jason Straight, an inner city Chicago
student-athlete, who initially just considered immediate Chicago-area universities with
whom to continue his basketball career.
Once college coaches at the U. of Wyoming caught his talent online, they offered Straight a
full scholarship. Straight started four years at Wyoming, was All-Mountain West Conference,
graduated on time, and is now playing professional basketball in Israel.
A wider selection pool is very beneficial, but it can also bring countless unsolicited emails
and packages a day, from high school coaches (on behalf of students), families and
E-mails, for the most part, have been an easier way to quickly evaluate a student, making
it simpler to request more video, or to decline them based on their statistics.
Collegiate scouting and recruiting services like the National Collegiate Scouting Association
(NCSA) have permission - based e-mail services for entire coaching staffs. They deliver
emails with student-athlete information and video in a format that college coach's desire.
Reliable scouting organizations even require college coaches to detail preferences for
potential recruits in terms of academics, athletics, and geography and can even call out
specific positions they are looking to fill.
These services have also proven a benefit to student-athletes, who are allowed to see which
coaches access their information and when they viewed their video.
Since coaches now have spam filters and blockers, some e-mailed information from recruits
doesn't go through, so student-athletes must make sure that the coaches actually received
the information and read their emails.
Bob Chmiel, former Notre Dame and U. of Michigan Asst. Football Coach and Recruiting
Coordinator, suggests that another important tool is using computers to generate mail that
appears to be very personal.
The introduction of the letter is personalized; the body of the letter contains another
personal reference, and yet another in the close. The letters go out by the thousands,
erring on the side of more.
"This differs from letters I sent stating ‘Dear Future Fighting Irish' or ‘Dear Prospect'," says
Chmiel. He goes on to note that coaches and players alike are able to market themselves
much more efficiently. They can deliver the messages and videos that they want certain
people to see.
Coaches can now sit in their offices and view hundreds of videos for no more than the cost
of an Internet connection or a DVD player; a pittance compared to expensive airfare and
long distance phone conversations.
Even though coaches still can find out about student-athletes through reliable sources:
combines, coach networks, and NCSA, they seldom do recruit kids just at camps.
When I was a featured speaker at a national combine at the U. of Notre Dame, of the 300+
top prospects, Charlie Weis told me there was only one he'd make an offer to.
Coaches now use Google alerts to see every press clipping written about a player, they can
see if they made the news on the field or off it. For the price of blank DVD's and basic
editing software parents can save themselves a great deal of frustration and money
through financial aid packages that athletic achievements help to deliver.
However, it's important to remind any student-athlete interested in playing in college to
send things only to the specific coach who requested it.
Video can be tricky on many levels. For example, sometimes parents and student-athletes
will only show the absolute best footage of their potential collegiate athlete, masking any
potential bad plays. However, they may think they are showing the best highlights with
video they created, but they could be masking some even better highlights that the coaches
are looking for, or, even worse, families could be putting in the wrong plays. So, even with
highlights videos, some coaches still want full game tape and may be prompted to see a
player in person.
Initial evaluations are made online, but final decisions are generally made face-to-face
when coaches get a sense of a potential player's character and interpersonal skills, all which
make an impact on and off playing fields.
The Internet and technology can, however, give coaches an extra level of evaluation for a recruit's talent and attitude.
A student-athlete's character can be helped or damaged by the images, and Web presence that student-athletes themselves create. Students have recently discovered that by creating a fun or party-style Web page on the popular site, www.myspace.com, professors
and potential coaches can get a sense of a student's extra-curricular interests.
Coaches aren't the only ones that are using the Internet for research. Student-athletes now
evaluate and approach schools on the Internet more than ever before. They are more
realistic today about what levels they can probably compete at and focus their search on
reviewing collegiate recruiting guidelines.
Just by Googling collegiate-recruiting guidelines, students learn everything from a college's
academic requirements to preferred athletic ability, such as the desired speed, amount of
weight they should be able to lift, and so much more. Savvy student-athlete recruits are
well aware of the guidelines, helping them to set future goals and to avoid sending
frivolous information and video to colleges whom they realistically don't stand a chance of
The advent of these recruiting guidelines also shows that some of the best opportunities
can be found outside of Division I.
In fact, less than half of the colleges/universities listed in The US News & World Report's
annual ranking of colleges are true Division I-A powerhouses.
Students use these collegiate power rankings and other objective sources to evaluate
potential college/universities' graduation rates and athletic prowess.
As I previously stated, the NCAA strictly limits contact between coaches and recruits. These
restrictions make it challenging for a coach to develop any kind of meaningful relationship
with the players they recruit, thus making it even more difficult for student-athletes to
initiate and to maintain that relationship.
This may offer a good indication of the coach's level of interest. The NCAA has very few
restrictions on text messaging, however.
A coach must wait until the same recruiting deadlines to begin contacting a player by text
message, but after that it's a free for all. Any number of text messages can be sent at any
A coach can now have instant access to players 24 hours a day. Not only that, but he can use
text messaging to get a player to call him.
Some student-athletes report that about 50 percent of the text messages they receive
include the words, "Give me a call." Coaches are not only able to communicate with players
by text message, but get recruits to call them more often then they otherwise would.
However, student-athletes complain that coaches text them frequently late at night or
when they are in class.
In an ESPN.com article, George Mason U. Head Basketball Coach Jim Larranaga, says, "Now
that we have found that the prospect can call us, we'll text message him and he'll call us,
and that doesn't count."
Larranaga went on to say, "So every time a rule is made, some bright young assistant finds a
way around it." Coaches are using this technology to remain a constant in the student's
decision-making process. They are using it to try to remain in favor in the ever-changing
This reliance of text messaging and email has created a more casual environment for
student-athletes and college coaches to interact. In some ways, it's very similar to online
dating. It allows both parties to develop a comfort level with one another before they have to commit to anything.
High school students have become masters at navigating and using the Internet and an
assortment of other electrical devices. They have learned how to use the Internet to
market themselves in an extremely effective manner.
Student-athlete Conner Kempe, a QB, has created his own Web site,
www.connerkempe.com for coaches to learn more about him. The Web site contains
Kempe's statistics along with his lifting numbers and running times.
He has also posted video of himself, allowing coaches to see who he is on the Internet.
Anyone searching for a QB will find it very simple to see what he can do.
It sometimes seems that student-athletes rely too much on email and not enough on
developing their interpersonal skills and really breaking through to coaches. Twenty years
ago, aggressive phone calls and unofficial visits showed how much a student-athlete wanted
to play at a college/university and how that student would fit into the student body.
College coaches are still highly impressed with student-athletes who reach out over the
phone and visit colleges early and often and present themselves in a professional manner,
looking a coach in the eye, giving him a firm handshake, and asking intelligent questions.
Since student-athletes can take unofficial visits as early as their freshman year, this
becomes an easy yet critical way to show how serious a student is about making an impact in
I stress to anyone in the recruiting process, whether it's a parent, a student-athlete, or a
coach/AD new to the industry that you can never start too early to get into the recruiting
game, or receive too much help.
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