There 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.