The Big Bang of Body Types and Why It Matters in College Recruiting

big bang of bodiesIn recent years, there has been a lot of research into what makes athletes great. One of the biggest trends to emerge is what is being called “the big bang of body types.” In short, this is research into the changing physiological characteristics of elite athletes and how certain features (height, weight, the length of legs or arms) are key indicators of athletes who can perform at the elite level of their sport.

Having Elite Shape Doesn’t Guarantee Success, but It Increases Your Chances

This information is not intended to say that if you don’t have these elite characteristics you can’t play at the top level of college sports. The goal is instead to give you a better understanding of how this type of information is being used by college coaches to identify talent. There are examples at every level of competition of athletes who are undersized or too slow to compete and there always will be. But, as the research continues into what makes elite athletes elite, this information will be used by college coaches in recruiting.

Why Height Matters in Basketball and Volleyball

The number one reason athletes with elite size get so much more attention in the recruiting process is because it is so rare. When you look on a DI basketball court, it is easy to forget how rare it is for people to be tall. It might be surprising to know that only 4% of the US men’s population is a legit 6’2” or taller. The number of tall people decreases even faster when you begin looking for players who are 6’5” and taller, with less than 1% of the population being that tall or taller. While there might be over 500,000 high school basketball players, if a college coach is looking for players who are (or will be at least 6’5”)  the pool of players they will be interested is going to be less than 5,000 and that’s assuming every 6’5” person is going to be playing basketball (which they won’t).

It doesn’t get any easier for women’s sports where height is an advantage. Looking at a DI volleyball court you will routinely see players 5’10” or taller. In the US, only 1% of the women’s population is 5’10” or taller. Coaches know that if they find a talented 6’0” middle blocker, there are probably only a couple 100 of them in the country.

It’s Not Just About Size, It’s also About Shape

The research into the shape and size of elite athletes is showing some other, unexpected trends in other sports.

  • Most elite swimmers have big feet and hands, long arms, short legs and long torsos
  • Elite runners usually have abnormally long and skinny legs
  • Many elite tennis players have abnormally long forearms
  • It is common for elite baseball players have almost super human eyesight and average hand eye coordination

Not Having “It” Doesn’t Mean Your Career is Over

You don’t have to be the shape of a Michael Phelps or size of Anthony Davis to get recruited. The fact of the matter is, if college coaches were only going to recruit athletes with these types of unique adaptations, they wouldn’t find enough athletes to field a team. Finding an opportunity to play at the college level and get a scholarship is about finding the right fit. To help you identify schools that might be right for you, look at the athletes on the team or at that division level and see if you match up.

What do you think, does focusing too much on the size of an athlete over simply sports or is only a sign of things to come?


How do I Approach a Coach About Problems with My Student Athlete?

Athletics Cannot Guarantee School AcceptanceThe competitiveness of youth and college sports can lead to strained relationships between an athlete and their coach. I recommend parents encourage their athletes to handle the discussions with the coach as these can be some of the most critical teachable moments in a young person’s development. However, there comes a point as a parent where you might feel it is best for you to talk to the coach directly (when that is up to your own interpretation of the situation). In this article, I discuss how to approach the coach in a way that gives your family the best chance for maintaining a positive relationship with your child’s coach.

It’s About Your Student Athletes Well Being

The first point you need to establish with the coach is that you are approaching them with concern for your athlete’s well being. You are not approaching them about playing time, scholarship amount or how the coach runs their program. When coaches feel like you are there to discuss how they run their team, they can become very defensive and it leads to unproductive conversations. You are simply approaching the coach for clarification on your athlete’s unhappiness, that is it.

*My general rule of thumb for parents in this situation, the coach should be talking 90% of the time. You are on a fact finding mission, not to discuss the issues.

Step Away From the He Said She Said

In my experience, when an athlete is frustrated with a coach (whatever the reason), they tend to exaggerate the reasons why things are going badly. This is not to say their problems aren’t real, they are, but that the truth about what is going wrong is usually somewhere between what the athletes are saying and what the coaches are saying. When you approach the coach, you want to get clarification on the points your athlete is frustrated about (try to avoid making any judgments about what you think is right or wrong until you get all of your questions answered).  Once you’ve talked with the coach, go back and discuss all of the points with your athlete and come up with what you think are the best next steps.

Make a Plan on What to do Next

Once you’ve gathered all of the facts, the next step is making a plan with your athlete on what to do next. I have seen many “terrible” coach athlete relationships get turned around once the athlete and coach have had a sit down conversation about what is wrong and establish a clear understanding of what needs to be done moving forward. It helps tremendously if the coach feels the support of the athletes parents towards the goal of helping the athlete grow and mature.

Sometimes, despite the best intentions, the best thing to do is look for a new team. At the college level, this usually means requesting a transfer which is not a straight forward process and more details on that process are below.

More Resources on Transfers and NCAA Rules

NCAA Transfer Guide 2014-15

InformedAthlete.com

If you have questions about how to approach a problem with a coach, leave your question in the comments below or contact our website through email.


Isn’t My High School Coach Supposed to Get Me Recruited?

football contact period

It used to be that a high school coach was the most important person in an athlete’s recruiting process. It was their job to have established relationships with the colleges in the region and they would contact these schools on behalf of their athletes. With college coaches changing jobs more frequently, colleges recruiting nationwide/internationally and spread of travel teams, high school coaches don’t play the same role in an athlete’s recruiting process as they used to. It is not your coaches job to get you recruited.

Most Colleges are Now Recruiting Nationwide

With the advent of online video and databases of athlete profiles, colleges are recruiting athletes from across the country and internationally. It used to be that coaches recruited the majority of their athletes from their local region because it was the best way to use their limited recruiting budget. Now, coaches can watch film of athletes online, visit one showcase event and watch teams from across the country and request info on athletes from national athlete databases (like ours). This means the old relationship between a local high school/club team coach and the local university aren’t as important as they used to be.

Your Coach Might Not Have Any Experience in Recruiting

The majority of high programs don’t have very many (if any) athletes go on to play at the college level. This is especially true for athletes that go on to play at the major DI level. If your school or team doesn’t have a track record of getting athletes to the next level, don’t expect that coach to have a lot of experience in the recruiting process. This doesn’t mean you should only be looking for a high school that sends a lot of athletes to college (you need to go to the right school for you), but that you should understand your coaches experience level with getting recruited.

They Can’t Get Every Athlete Recruited

In my experience, coaches are usually willing to help an athlete in the recruiting process (how much varies on the coach) but they don’t have the time to “get you recruited.” On top of their work as a coach and family obligations, they don’t have the hours of work needed to contact colleges and find interested programs for all of their athletes. Your coach’s job is to be a great reference for you and help colleges with things like getting film and academic info. It is your job to generate interest from schools you think you would like to attend.

Establish Recruiting Guidelines Before Recruiting Starts

The number one reason athletes/families and coaches have issues around recruiting is because the topic usually isn’t discussed until it is very late in the process. You need to discuss what you want from the recruiting process before the recruiting process starts. With recruiting starting your freshman year or earlier, this means you need to be talking to your high school/club coaches as soon as you are in high school.

Are you having problems in the recruiting process? Contact our scouting team by creating a free recruiting profile.


What to do if You Can’t Afford a Club Team

basketball showcases tournamentsClub and travel teams have become an important part of the recruiting process for the majority of sports. With the increased recruiting exposure and concentration of college coaches at their events, it can seem like your only option for getting recruited is to play for a travel team. However, for many families it is just too expensive and laying out the thousands of dollars a year isn’t an option. This leaves many families to ask “what if we can’t afford a travel team?”

Look for Travel Teams That Offer Scholarships

Some club or travel teams offer “scholarships” to the best players. This means all of the other team members will pay a little extra in order for the club to be able to offer free spots on the team for couple players. These types of positions on a paying club team are difficult to find, but if you are good enough, they can be an excellent opportunity. The best way to find these scholarship opportunities is review the websites of the club teams in your area. If the information isn’t available on the website, contact the club director and see if they offer scholarships.

Off-Set Costs by Working for the Club

If you are a U16-U18 athlete, you might have the opportunity to off-set your club fees by coaching some of the younger teams in your club. Many clubs offer the opportunity for older players to help coach or run the camps for younger players and “pay you” by offering you a reduced fee for your club dues. This is another arrangement not available at all clubs and usually only a limited number of coaching positions are available. Contact the clubs in your area and see if this is an option.

Start Early and Build a Relationship with Your Local Club Directors

Attempting to get a scholarship position on a travel team is much like going through the recruiting process, except you are going to start even earlier. While you might begin the recruiting process in the 8th grade, you will need to begin contacting your local club teams in the 5th or 6th grade. You need to approach each club like you are trying to build a long term relationship. You might not be good enough for the scholarship in your first year, but if you improve, you could be offered in your second or third year.

Focus on Camps, Combines and Your High School Team

If your local cub teams aren’t going to work our financially, you will have to focus on the areas that will. Rather than spending thousands of dollars a year on a travel team, maybe you can only afford a couple camps or combines. To get maximum value from these camps or combines focus on reaching out to the coaches and recruiters who will be at these camps and let them know you are coming. Send them film or stats so they get an idea of what kind of player you are. If you aren’t getting any responses from the coaches or staff of a camp, consider attending a camp elsewhere, where they are showing interest.

Your high school team might not offer the same type of focused recruiting opportunities as a club team, but it can still provide you with a lot of exposure. Your high school competitions won’t have several college coaches in attendance, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be watching. Use your high school games to build your highlight video and game film library. You can generate a lot of interest by sending your highlight film to the right programs.

Are you having trouble getting recruited? Leave your questions in the comments below or create a free recruiting profile and one of our scouts can contact you.


Where Does a College Coach Have You Ranked

national siging day John WaltersOnce you have established contact with a program, it is important you figure out how interested that school is. The challenge with this is that coaches aren’t just going to tell you exactly where they have you ranked. As a recruit or a parent, you will have to read between the lines to figure this out. In this article I explain some of the common things that happen in the recruiting process and how they be used to gauge a programs level of interest.

Scholarship Size Doesn’t Always Mean a Higher Ranking

In sports that divide their scholarships, getting a larger scholarships amount doesn’t mean you are a more valuable recruit. For example, in a sport like Softball or Baseball, pitchers get far more of the scholarship money than other positions. So you might be the top ranked recruit at your position and receiving a smaller scholarship offer than the 4th or 5th best pitcher. Another example is in track and field. Each event coach might have a limited amount of scholarship money. Because sprinters can score more points than an athlete competing in a single event, the 3rd or 4th best sprinter will often get a better scholarship offer than the 1st or 2nd best single event athlete. Don’t assume that just because you aren’t getting a significant scholarship, coaches aren’t interested in you.

How Long Do You Have to Decide on Your Offer?

In the race to lock down recruits early, coaches are routinely making verbal scholarship offers. Many times these offers these offers comes with a time limit, where a coach will need to know if you accept the offer in a few days or weeks. Based on how long you have to decide, you will get a sense for where the coach has you ranked:

  • Offers made to multiple athletes and first one to commit gets it – If a coach has several recruits they have ranked about the same, they will offer all of the athletes at the same time and let them know the first one to commit gets the scholarship. The coach thinks enough of you to offer, but they are willing to take other commitments ahead of you.
  • You have days or weeks to decide – As a program begins to hit or miss on commitments from their top recruits, they make offers to their secondary recruits. This can be the athletes ranked 3-5 depending on the class size.
  • There is no timeline, just let us know – This type of offer is reserved for the top recruits in a class. The coach is basically saying, “We are willing to wait (for right now) because there is no one else we would rather have.” If you are fortunate enough to be in this position, you should still seek to get some sort of timeline even if it if your own.

Things Aren’t as Bad as You Think

Most of the time, the only time recruits or families are really concerned about “where they stand with coaches” is when they think something is wrong. In general, things are not as bad as you think. If a coach has gone a few days or weeks without contacting you, it doesn’t mean all is lost. It is best to relax, make sure there wasn’t anything you were supposed to get back to them with (film, transcripts, test scores) and then contact them to check in. Coaches are busy people and wearing many different hats (coach, recruiter, spouse, parent) and it is easy for things to get lost in the shuffle.

Are you having trouble in your recruiting? Leave your questions below or create a free recruiting profile and speak with one of our scouts.


When Good Recruiting Advice is Bad

unlimited phone call college recruitingGood advice is hard to find and that is doubly true in recruiting. No two people have the same recruiting process and taking one person’s advice as “the right way” can be dangerous. Too often we hear of people who receive well-meaning advice on what to do, that is the wrong advice for them. Below are the common situations where good advice is actually bad.

85 Football Scholarships Are Not the Same as 9.9 Baseball Scholarships

It seems obvious, but too many recruits assume negotiating for a scholarship in one sport, is like negotiating for a scholarship in another. For example, negotiating for one of the 85 DI FBS Football Scholarships per team, is very different than negotiating for one of the 9.9 DII Baseball Scholarships per team. FBS football are all full-ride scholarships where as a DII baseball program is dividing up 9.9 scholarships among 30+ players. If you are looking for advice on getting better scholarship offers, you need to talk to other recruits who have received scholarships for your sport and division level.

Recruiting Can Start in 7th Grade and Finish in Your Senior Year

Some sports and division levels are recruiting very early, while others aren’t finished recruiting until senior year. If you ask someone who is being recruited by a women’s DI soccer program when to start the recruiting process, it is 7th or 8th grade. In DI women’s soccer, the top recruits are committed by their sophomore year. The opposite would be in a sport like DI basketball where coaches are recruiting right until signing day because recruits are constantly flipping their verbal commitments. If you are looking to get started in recruiting, get a realistic view of what level you can play and align your recruiting with that timeline.

Don’t Treat All Areas of the Country the Same

Colleges in different geographic locations will recruit differently. For example, California baseball programs are routinely over-stocked with talent (having 40+ players trying out) and rely heavily on players going to JC to continue to develop. Programs in less populated areas might not have the same overflow of players, thus recruiting and scholarships are divided up very differently. Where you are from and where you are willing to go to school can have a huge impact on what type of opportunities you can find. Again, the best advice is talk to recruits with a similar situation to yourself.

Camps, Combines and Travel Ball Isn’t Always the Most Important Thing

Depending on what recruit or parent you talk to, you will get different answers on the importance of camps, combines or travel teams. From time to time I’ll hear comments like, “we went to a bunch of camps and didn’t get any interest. Our travel team played in one showcase and all of the recruiting interest came from there. Camps are a waste of time.” The rule of recruiting aren’t black and white. Some camps are better than others, some athletes don’t show well at camps and need to be seen in games, really, it depends on the athlete, position and what is best for the family. Determining the right camps, combines and travel team depends entirely on what schools and sports the athlete is targeting. You need to know that programs recruiting habits, including the events and teams/organizations they recruit from.

Take All Advice With a Grain of Salt

The truth is no one is going to have the same recruiting experience as you. Doing exactly what someone else did and expecting the same results will set you up for disappointment. The best thing you can do is find other recruits or families who have played your sport, went to your division level and to a similar region.

Are you having troubling in your recruiting process? You can create a free recruiting profile to connect with our scouting team or leave your questions in the comments below.


It Is Not All About the Scholarship

should college athletes get paidThere is a lot of talk in the college sports world about the proposed “four year scholarship.” The push for these types of guaranteed scholarships are being touted as a solution to what many feel is an unfair practice of college coaches pulling an athlete’s scholarship. You can lose your scholarship due to injury, loss of eligibility or for no reason other than the coach wants to give it to another athlete. Even though the number of athletes who have their scholarship pulled is very low, it is a problem that needs to be addressed. On the surface a guaranteed scholarship seems like the solution to this problem, but it isn’t.

Would You Take a Scholarship If You Weren’t on the Team?

The guaranteed scholarships that are currently available don’t mean the athlete is guaranteed a spot on the team. The larger conversation any recruit should have is, “how sure am I that this program is right for me?” To answer that, you need to look beyond the athletic scholarship. What recently happened at University of Tennessee highlights how important this can be. 6 athletes were dismissed from the track team but kept their scholarships. How would you feel in that situation? Probably just like the athletes in the story; your scholarship means nothing if you aren’t playing the sport you love

If a coach can cut you from the team whenever they want, how can you find a school where this is less likely to happen?

What Can You Do During the Recruiting Process

The short answer is, there is nothing you can do to guarantee your spot on a team. However, there are questions you can ask and traits to look for during the recruiting process to reduce the chances of losing your spot on a team.

  • Go to the school showing the most interest for the longest time – Many times we see athletes who are always looking for a bigger or better offer. One of the risks of this strategy is that the teams who come to you late in the recruiting process are coming to you because they missed on their higher ranked recruits. For a more stable position on a team, go with the school showing the most interest for the longest time.
  • The higher the division level, the more pressure to win – College sports at the NCAA DI level is big business and the pressure to win is high. Coaches at this level are more likely to make the type of decisions that could cause an athlete to lose their spot on the team.
  • Coaches with a long tenure at a school are safer choices – As an athlete you want to find a stable program and generally, if a coach has been at the program for a while, that means the program is stable. However, it can also mean a coach is close to retirement or if the programs record is bad, they could be up for a coaching change. Make sure you look into how long a coach has been a school if you are considering that program.
  • Losing programs are at risk of a shakeup – It doesn’t matter what division level, if a program has several years of losing in a row the likelihood of a coaching change coming is increased. Sometimes you will go to a losing program because the coach speaks passionately about turning things around. That is a fine and it can be something special to be part of a turnaround, but understand the risks that come with the decision.
  • Be wary of programs with high roster turnover – It is always a good idea look over the roster of any program you are interested in. One thing to look for is if athletes are leaving the program before their eligibility is gone. Look at the roster from one and two years ago and look at the underclassmen. How many of them are still on the team? If the underclassmen aren’t staying on the team it should raise a red flag that maybe something is wrong and you should try to talk to the athlete who left before committing to the school.

Do you have any recruiting questions? Are you having trouble finding the right school? Leave your questions in the comments below.


Transfer Review Shows NCAA Needs Many Voices

ncaa transfer rulesThe governance reform effort which will kick into high gear at this month’s NCAA convention has been based around two assumptions. First, that larger schools should not necessarily be bound by limits based on competitive equity with and financial restrictions of smaller athletic departments. And second, that athletic directors rather than university presidents should take the lead when it comes to the day-to-day governance of the NCAA.

It is undeniable that too much was expected of university presidents, especially over the last few years. Presidents already struggle to balance keeping tabs on athletics with the running the rest of the university. Many complain of spending 10–20% of their time on something which amounts to less than 5% of the university budget. A single athletic department can overwhelm a college president. It is no surprise they struggled to oversee hundreds of other athletic departments in their spare time.

Beyond the time demands, presidents were ill-suited to craft nuts-and-bolts rules because they are in many cases out of touch with the realities of what goes on in an athletic department. They rarely feel the issues facing coaches, student-athletes, and administrators. The results are initiatives which are grand, potentially transformative, but which run into issue with implementation by those on the front lines. The proposed solution is to put much of the authority for translating the details of broad policy dictated by college presidents into the hands of athletic directors.

But the ongoing review of transfer rules is an example of the folly of putting too much authority in the hands of any one of the NCAA’s constituent groups. Athletic directors, being closer to coaches, athletes, and critics, were put in charge of determining whether changes needed to be made to the NCAA’s transfer rules and what those changes should look like.

Last year, the subcommittee of the Division I Leadership Council working on the issue came up with a transfer model which would have radically altered the landscape in Division I revenue sports. It would have created a general transfer exception based on academics, lessened the penalty for any athlete transferring, and potentially done away with athletes needing to ask permission from their current institution to be recruited by another.

A few months later, faced with research that transfers only account for a small minority of student-athletes, the new model was scrapped. Instead, permission-to-contact became the focus, although talk of a self-release seemed to have ended as well. At the very least though, the subcommittee was questioning whether one school should be able to prohibit another school from giving a student-athlete financial aid.

Fast forward to now and all talk about loosening transfer restrictions is gone. Instead, the transfer subcommittee is now looking at tightening up waivers and graduate transfers. A general transfer exception (which might have solved many of the waiver problems) is off the table for now, as it seems are changes to permission-to-contact (which many argue is a bigger problem with transferring than athletes having to sit out a year). Instead the focus is on abuse and inconsistent decisions in the waiver process as well as the perceived “free agency” created by the graduate transfer exception and waiver.

The change in tune from the subcommittee tracks closely with the criticism of the NCAA’s transfer rules over the last couple of years. When the subcommittee was coming up with the initial model in Fall 2012, two summers of intense debate over transfer rules had just ended. While most athletes transferred without incident, there were multiple high profile battles between institutions and student-athletes over permission-to-contact and support to play immediately. By April 2013, much of the venom was gone, but opposition to permission-to-contact remained strong.

The summer of 2013 was quieter in terms of transfer debate. The most intense criticism of schools restricting athletes was aimed at the National Letter of Intent and incoming prospects, not transfers of enrolled student-athletes. Critics of the transfer process focused on waivers, which seemed to be more common and more inconsistent than ever, although the NCAA would likely dispute both those claims.

It is impossible to separate the path the transfer subcommittee has taken with the waves of criticism. If this were in the hands of the presidents on the Board of Directors, a proposal resembling the model initially outlined a year ago would have gone to the membership. It might have been defeated, overridden, or caused chaos if it had been adopted. But the presidents would have been much more likely to at least put the initial model to a vote, even if it was out of touch with what coaches and administrators knew was happening with transfers.

If this is any indication, it does not bode well for athletic directors as a transformative force in the NCAA. They are too close to the action to ignore what is in favor of what should be when necessary. Giving too much authority to athletic directors may mean a return to one of the reasons the NCAA Manual got so big in the first place: putting rulemaking in the hands of people trying first and foremost to protect their own turf or get a leg up on their neighbors.

Rather than trying to find the one group that should run the NCAA, the national office and the members need to find a way to make sure presidents, administrators, coaches, and athletes all have a voice in governance. The challenge is to make that happen while still keeping the legislative process nimble enough to respond quickly when needed.


Spare Change: How to Get a Bowling Scholarship in College

college bowlingBowling, that time-honored bad-weather and/or birthday party activity for kids, might also be an outstanding way to put yourself through college. That is, if you are a female.

Collegiate bowling is currently in the midst of its tenth season as an NCAA-sanctioned sport for women only, and what a lengthy season it is. “It’s the longest season in NCAA sports,” says Stan Bradley, the sports information director at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, the two-time defending national champions. “It begins in October and extends all the way to the national championships in mid-April.”

If you are keeping score, then, college football’s bowl season lasts about three weeks. Bowling season extends over literally three seasons: autumn, winter and spring.

Like the sport of rifle, this is one sport in which one’s sex should have little bearing on one’s success. However, unlike rifle, in which men and women compete together and against one another, bowling exists as an NCAA-sanctioned sport for women only. The legal parameters of Title IX, which guarantees against sexual discrimination in terms of athletic opportunities at the collegiate level, were the greatest impetus for the inception of bowling as a women’s-only collegiate sport.

That’s terrific news for any teenage girl who is able to roll a seven-ten split with any frequency. The NCAA allows up to five scholarships per school in bowling. In 2012, a total of 113 schools, approximately one-third of which (36) are Division I institutions, offered varsity collegiate bowling for women. That’s a total of 565 bowling full scholarships out there waiting to be claimed by female high school students.

“The NCAA has no mandate on whether you split up the scholarships (e.g., two bowlers splitting a full scholarship comprised of two half-scholarships),” says Bradley, “but here we award them as five individual full scholarships.”

Maryland-Eastern Shore can afford to be selective and to request that its lesser contributors compete as walk-ons. Last April it became the first institution to win both the NCAA Bowling Championship and the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Intercollegiate Team Championships in the same season. The Lady Hawks are currently ranked second in the nation behind Central Missouri and last weekend bowled a perfect 300 game in Baker play (in which five teammates each bowl two frames in compiling a score) for only the second time in school history.

There are approximately 50,000 competitive high school female bowlers in the United States. Do the math and you will discern that that should translate to about 1% of them earning bowling scholarships at U.S. colleges. The number is actually less due to an influx of keggling talent from abroad.

At Maryland-Eastern Shore (UMES), for example, four of the five scholarship bowlers are international students (two hail from Colombia, one is from Mexico and a fourth is from Puerto Rico). In fact, UMES is what is known as an HBC (Historically Black College) and yet none of the bowlers is African-American. Neither is head coach Kristina Frahm. Only four of the nine bowlers on the roster are American.

One reason for that: bowling is an easily quantifiable sport, one in which conditions and competition are minor if non-existent factors. Lanes, pins and balls are pretty much uniform no matter what continent one hails from, while a bowler’s main competition is herself. A high school senior who regularly bowls a 170 in Bogota, Colombia, is going to have that same average stateside.

Speaking of which – and, remember UMES is the apex of collegiate bowling – the individuals at Maryland-Eastern Shore average between 180 and 200 per game, while one has rolled as high as a 265 game. The standards at other schools are not that high.

Do your homework. Find out if any of the schools you are interested in offer bowling as a collegiate sport. Then, just as you might see how your SAT or ACT scores measure up to their standards, compare your bowling average to their bowlers’ averages. You’ll probably need somewhere in the vicinity of a 170 average to be considered for a scholarship.

Chances are that currently you fall south of that 170 standard. With practice and dedication, though, there may be time to improve your score. And, let’s face it: it’s a lot more fun to work on your bowling than it is to work on calculus.


Josh Malone and the Future of Recruiting

Josh Malone and the Future of RecruitingJosh Malone, four-star receiver from Tennessee, has opted to stay at home and play for the Tennessee Volunteers. Flipping the normal routine, Malone had signed with three other schools (Clemson, Georgia, and Florida State) prior to committing. That lead to the odd situation where college coaches were able to talk about Malone before he had committed. Malone also had four scholarship offers that while not set in stone were far more secure than a verbal scholarship offer or a written offer he could not sign. Malone was in this position because he was a highly-touted midyear enrollee. He was able to sign before the February signing date because he was on track to graduate in December, which the NCAA clarified in an interpretation earlier this year. Because he was such a sought-after recruit, at least four coaches were willing to commit a scholarship to Malone without any binding commitment (or commitment at all) from him. Malone’s recruitment is a big win for opponents of restrictions on athletes, especially the National Letter of Intent. Not only did Malone prove that top recruits can get binding scholarship offers without an NLI attached, he still has the freedom to change his mind anytime before he enrolls at Tennessee. This is yet another advantage to being an early enrollee vs. a regular signee and may push the trend toward more football players graduating high school in December. Josh Malone also provided a blueprint to deregulate football recruiting. Deregulation runs into scale problems with football. Despite the large coaching staff, coming up with a recruiting class of 15–25+ prospects means casting a large net. Combine that with the resources and pressures in major college football and many coaches are worried things will get out of hand. The result is that after a major push for deregulation and review of the recruiting model, football recruiting emerged even more tightly controlled than before. Malone showed the middle way between accepting numerous minor violations as a cost of doing business and the Wild West. When Malone signed with a school, not only did he get a scholarship without limiting himself, most significant recruiting restrictions were also lifted for that institution. Coaches could talk about him publicly and call and text him as much as they wanted. There were no limits on the number of off-campus contacts he had with those coaching staffs and the coaches could ignore dead periods. With one prospect this is manageable for coaches. Expand it to 50 or 100 and it may get out of hand. But if this freedom in recruiting stays tied to signing a scholarship, it is naturally limited to the prospects an institution is willing to sign without getting an NLI commitment in return. Even if only top prospects had this luxury, that would still cover the recruits who generate the most recruiting activity and thus more chances for violations. The NCAA could also put a hard cap on how many recruits each school can contact without limits by changing football’s signing rules. Currently institutions are limited to 25 signees between December 1 and May 31. Starting that limit on August 1 and allowing all prospects, not just midyear enrollees, to sign scholarship agreements on that date would mean each institution would have a group of 25 prospects (give or take) that made the university one of their finalists. Those prospects (and only those prospects) could be recruited without many limits during the final stages of the process. This solves the problem for coaches of unlimited contact with potentially hundreds of prospects. But it also gives the prospect a powerful tool to control his recruitment. Prospects would not have to hope coaches respect their wishes with regards to how much they want to be contacted. If a prospect wants to have unlimited communication with a coach or staff, he can sign with that school (assuming a scholarship is offered). If a prospect decides to drop a school, he can forfeit the scholarship, which cuts the coaching staff back to normal contact limits and frees them up to sign another prospect. The biggest downside would be for prospects in the tiers below the top. They would likely have to wait for written scholarship offers, as many programs will try to stay in with as many of their top targets as long as possible. Once top prospects holding a number of signed scholarship offers start to commit or trim their finalists, more scholarships will open up and start to trickle down. Even this negative has a silver lining, since it would mean a more honest assessment of how secure their offers actually are. If one of the worst things that happens is a coach not offering a scholarship that was subject to being pulled anyway, it is at least worth looking into. It would provide more security to prospects, more flexibility to coaches, and would do so without completely removing limits that make sense in many cases.