Each and every scholarship athlete has worked hard and deserves personal credit for his or her successes. However, these athletes also received support and guidance from many important adults in their lives. The support athletes receive ranges from washing their uniforms, carpooling to practices and games, cheering at their events, to coaching and teaching sportsmanship and maturity. As student athletes make the transition to collegiate competition they need support and advice from the adults in their life more than ever.
Parents are well aware of current college costs and are looking for ways to help their sons and daughters pay for their college education. Athletic scholarships are not available to everyone, but talented athletes can often combine the positive experience of college sports with education and receive a huge financial benefit. Parents understand this and want to help their student athletes help themselves by securing scholarships.
Every student-athlete has two choices—either wait passively by the phone hoping that coaches will call or take an active role themselves in the recruiting process. Which will it be? Let’s face it…it’s easier to wait by the phone for the call. Unfortunately, this passive approach is also encouraged by the image that the NCAA would like you to have of sports recruiting—that all worthy athletes will be contacted by excellent coaches from top-notch colleges and get offered scholarships to compete. This image is a myth.
There are plenty of reasons to avoid making the effort yourself. It’s not “cool” to make the effort yourself, and it’s hard work! You might be thinking, “Greg, Beth, and John all got called by a coach and they got scholarships. Why should I make the effort? If I’m a good enough athlete, I’ll get the calls.”
It’s true that many top prospects will get called without making any effort at all. Was it from a coach they had chosen? Was it from a school they had especially wanted to attend? In reality, not all calls are the ones that an athlete was wishing for. Even for athletes who are almost certain to get recruiting calls, it is very worthwhile for them to let coaches know of their interests in a sports program and in a school. Taking the initiative is never a bad thing.
Most student athletes do not get serious about college plans until their senior year of high school. We have talked with hundreds of high school counselors over the past several years. Unfortunately, we have learned that these professionals also think that college sports recruiting is an activity that is only for seniors. Parents must motivate students to start the recruiting process early. The earlier an athlete starts, the better the athlete’s chances of attaining the best college sports situation.
The enterprising high school athlete can get a big head start on the recruiting process because students who start early have the advantage! Students who start early and initiate contacts with coaches help both themselves and the coach! With only a couple of exceptions, coaches cannot initiate a contact until after the athlete’s junior year in high school. However, an athlete can contact a coach almost any time.
NCAA rules also define when and under what conditions a recruited athlete can visit at the school’s expense, but parents and their student athletes can visit a school at any time at their own expense. On such a visit, you can meet with school officials and coaches. The sooner the choices get narrowed down, the better off the athlete is when his or her official recruiting season starts.
The pitches from so-called “recruiting services” and “sports marketing services” are appealing. These companies say that they can put your athlete’s name in front of a hundred coaches. They have testimonials from athletes and coaches who sing their praises. Every year in almost every school, there are parents who pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to these services. Almost every parent we have spoken with who has paid for such a service has said it was worth it. Their athlete got some letters from schools showing interest. On the other hand, almost none of the athletes I talked with who went this route ended up attending a school identified by a recruiting service.
In almost every high school, there are senior athletes who get recruited by college coaches. It is very typical that the level of this recruitment and the size of the scholarship offers are exaggerated. What is a “full ride?” More than once, you are likely to hear that some athlete received a “full ride” scholarship offer. Athletes and their parents are anxious for recognition and the gold standard for sports scholarships is the “full ride.” Therefore, it is not surprising to hear offers received that range from a semester of tuition to a full grant-in-aid (commonly referred to as a “full ride.”) Do not feel that your athlete is in competition with the offers received by other student athletes. Situations don’t compare evenly, sports don’t compare, and schools don’t compare.
What constitutes as a good scholarship offer varies widely from college to college, the division the college competes in, the sport, the talents of the individual athlete and even the athlete’s gender. Rather than worrying about someone else’s scholarship offer, you and your student athlete should be looking for the best college option for him or her. It made mean a full ride, or a partial ride, or it may mean the chance to attend a great school while having fun competing in college level sports. The recruiting process is the chance to evaluate everything about a college offer. Judge the opportunity as a whole and look at the full picture, not simply the dollar amount of the award.
Parent support starts with encouragement and it ends with supporting the student athlete’s decision about which opportunity to accept. In the middle of the process, it will help to keep in mind that it is the student’s talent, the student’s hard work, the student’s success, and the student’s life—not yours. The line between supporting the student and living through the student’s success is one that can be hard to negotiate at times. Try to recognize when you cross that line and make an adjustment.
The NAIA Eligibility Center will determine your eligibility based upon your academic record and additional information you provide. Here’s how it works:
In 2007, the NCAA established the “NCAA Eligibility Center LLC,” in Indianapolis, IN. This new call center replaced the Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse which was operated by the ACT. The new center will ensure that student-athletes are held to the same standards that were established by the NCAA in order to play as a freshman in college. They will also certify the student-athletes’ amateur status and assist high schools with the process of maintaining their core course listings. The certification process is only started when a NCAA institution makes a request on a student-athlete. Therefore, counselors should send completed transcripts to the center in a timely manner so it does not impede the certification process.
WARNING – Ensure that all documentation sent to the Eligibility Center is accurate and that ALL core courses are listed on the school’s approved core course list. Once the eligibility center has received all required documentation, including a final high school transcript with proof of graduation, they will NOT accept any revised documentation. A waiver procedure must now be initiated by the NCAA institution recruiting the student athlete.
Who Needs to Register? Any student-athlete that wishes to complete in college at the NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 level must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
When Do You Need to Register? Student-athletes should register with the Eligibility Center during the spring of their junior year.
How Do You Register? You may ONLY register electronically online at http://www.eligibilitycenter.org/
What are the Fees for Sending Test Scores to the Center? - If students take the test before registering with the Eligibility Center then they must pay $12.50 for SAT scores or $8.50 for ACT scores to have the scores sent to the Eligibility Center.
If students register with the Eligibility Center first then take the SAT or ACT test, they will NOT pay a fee to have the scores sent as long as they put the code “9999” where they are asked to indicate where the scores are to be sent.
*For NCAA purposes, ALL SAT or ACT test scores must come directly from the testing agency and will NOT be accepted via an official high school transcript.
Can Courses Taken in Eight Grade Count? Courses taken in the eighth grade MAY be used to meet core course requirements, provided they are approved high school core courses (e.g. Algebra 1, Spanish 1, Freshman Composition). In order for these courses to count towards eligibility, the courses taken in eighth grade MUST appear on the student’s high school transcript and they must also count towards high school graduation credit.
What if a Student-Athlete Transfers to Another High School? If a student transfers from one high school to another, courses taken at “High School A” must be accompanied by an official transcript from that school, to the new high school. They may NOT just be added to the transcript of “High School B.”