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Common Athletic Recruiting Questions

Varsityedge.com has fielded lots of questions over the years. Here are some of the more common questions we receive.

How many scholarships for d1 football?

Division 1 football teams are allowed to offer 85 athletic scholarships for their entire team and up to 25 new recruits each year. There is some discrepancy in football where teams can sign 28 players and then ask some to defer to the spring semester (gray shirt) which the NCAA frowns upon.

Can division 3 offer athletic scholarships?

No, athletic scholarships are only offered at the Division 1 and Division 2 level. You may, however, find a more attractive financial aid package at a Division 3 schools if you are an outstanding student and apply to colleges looking for students from your State or region to enroll.

How many division 1 baseball teams are there?

There are over 325 Division 1 baseball teams at the NCAA level as well as many at the NAIA and JUCO level.

How many scholarships for d1 basketball teams?

NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball teams can offer 13 athletic scholarships for their entire team and NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball teams can offer 15 athletic scholarships for their entire team. There are no partial scholarships at this level, you either receive a full scholarship or are considered a walk-on.

What percentage of high school athletes will play at the college level?

Below is a graphic the NCAA puts out which I despise because in no way does it factor in the number of players in each sport who were even interested in playing in college or who had the actual skills needed to play in college. This is not a probability chart in any way. If you have the skills to play in college and apply some effort to your recruiting process, your probability of playing in college is 100% If you do not have the skills and athletic ability to play at the college level, your probability is zero percent! Read more about participation numbers

NCAA Participation Numbers

How many scholarships for D1 baseball?

Division 1 baseball offers 11.7 athletic scholarships per team (11.78 if you want to be technical). These can be divided up to up to 27 players in the form of partial athletic scholarships. Please note, some teams will have more than 27 players on their roster but only 27 are allowed to receive aid per NCAA rules. The NCAA made several rules changes to D1 baseball a few years ago, among them: Rosters could not exceed 35 players. The Minimum athletic scholarship a player could receive was 25%. Players transferring from D1 to D1 in baseball must sit out one year. If a player on the fall roster is receiving aid and leaves the team, the coach cannot use his aid for the spring with another player. Coaches cannot use players in the spring that were ineligible in the fall. The 25% minimum scholarship rule creates a bit of a problem because many D1 baseball teams only have a few athletic scholarships to offer because it’s not a revenue generating sport. If a team has 3 total athletic scholarships available and divides that into 25% portions, they have twelve 25% portions to use. That means up to 20 players on the team will potentially receive no athletic scholarship money at all!

Can my athletic scholarship be taken away?

Yes and no. This is straight from the NCAA Division 1 Manual

15.3.5.3 Reduction or Nonrenewal Not Permitted

—After the Period of the Award. [A] If a student athlete receives athletically related financial aid in the academic year of his or her initial full-time enrollment at the certifying institution, the following factors shall not be considered in the reduction or nonrenewal of such aid for the following academic year or years of the student-athlete’s five-year period of eligibility:

(a) A student-athlete’s athletics ability, performance or contribution to a team’s success (e.g., financial aid contingent upon specified performance or playing a specific position)

(b) An injury, illness, or physical or mental medical condition; or

(c) Any other athletics reason.

15.3.4.2 Reduction or Cancellation Permitted. Institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability may be reduced or canceled during the period of the award if the recipient: (a) Renders himself or herself ineligible for intercollegiate competition;

(b) Fraudulently misrepresents any information on an application, letter of intent or financial aid agreement (see Bylaw 15.3.4.2.3);

(c) Engages in serious misconduct warranting substantial disciplinary penalty (see Bylaw 15.3.4.2.4); or

(d) Voluntarily (on his or her own initiative) withdraws from a sport at any time for personal reasons; however, the recipient’s financial aid may not be awarded to another student-athlete in the academic term in which the aid was reduced or canceled.

Do division 2 schools offer athletic scholarships?

Yes, the numbers are a little lower in a few sports compared to Division 1, but they are offered.

What are the new NCAA texting rules?

DIVISION 1

Men’s basketball: Electronic correspondence can begin June 15th after sophomore year.

Women’s basketball: Electronic correspondence can begin September 1st of junior year.

Football: Electronic correspondence can begin June 15th after sophomore year. This was just changed in April of 2016 to be in line with men’s basketball.

All Other sports: Electronic correspondence can begin September 1st of junior year.

Swimming & Diving, Cross Country, Track & Field: Only email and faxes allowed until you provide a written commitment to the NCAA school

DIVISION 2 & 3

Texting is also allowed at the D2 level on/after June 15th of a prospects sophomore year.

The NCAA D3 council voted in January of 2012 on text messaging and it is now allowed at the D3 level for every sport.

What does letter of intent mean?

The National Letter of Intent or NLI is a legal document signifying the award of athletic aid at an NCAA Division 1 or NCAA Division 2 school. When you sign an NLI, you must attend the institution with which you signed for a minimum of one year. Wondering what happens if you sign and then the coach leaves? You are stuck! You sign with a school, not a coach. You an appeal to the school for your release, but they do not have to let you out of it. This might be the first important legal document you sign, so when you sign it, understand with it comes responsibility and repercussions.

Can you uncommitted to a college?

A verbal commitment to a college has no legal authority until a college coach offers an award letter and a recruit signs a National Letter of Intent.

How do I respond to a college coach email?

By answering the questions the college coach asked. Even if you are not interested in the college at this time, respond to the coach in a professional manner by thanking him for contacting you. If you are truly not interested, we would advise you to say something like: “Coach (Name), Thank you for contacting me. Right now I am pursuing other opportunities, but if my situation changes I will contact you immediately!”

When can colleges offer scholarships?

When you are born. Yes, we have all heard about the 7th grade phenom who already has a standing athletic scholarship offer from some college. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt and trying to get a kid excited about a school. Most of these usually fall through because kids don’t pan out or the coach is long gone from the school. There are specific signing dates for NCAA sports, and athletic scholarship offers can come before those. The offers coaches make to 7th and 8th graders are not real!

What is juco football?

There are 120+ Junior College Football teams that compete at the NJCAA in three different divisions. These sports offer athletic scholarships and have national championships. See NJCCA.org

Is it too late to get recruited senior year?

It depends on the sport you play. If you play a spring sport like baseball or softball, it is too late to have any real recruiting impact because applications have already been sent in, and in reality, college coaches are recruiting sophomores and juniors in the spring. If you play a fall sport like football, or basketball, a strong senior season can impact your recruiting process if the college coach has time to evaluate you before applications are due. Since colleges have different application schedules, it can vary from school to school and coach to coach.

Can junior colleges offer athletic scholarships?

There are 3 divisions of Junior College (D1, D2 and D3). D1 can offer full athletic scholarships. D2 can offer scholarships for tuition and books but not room and board. D3 cannot offer any athletic scholarships.

When can division 1 coaches contact you? When can d3 coaches contact players? When can division 2 coaches contact you?

NCAA D1 – College coaches can begin to call you after September 1st at beginning of your junior year.
NCAA D2 – College coaches can begin to call you beginning June 15th before your junior year.
NCAA D3 – Unlike D1 and D2, there are no restrictions as to when a D3 coach can call a prospect in high school. The NCAA feels that smaller D3 schools do not have the time, money, or resources to abuse this privilege, which will often be true.

Football Specific (Junior Year): In Division I & IAA, one call from April 15 to May 31 of your junior year. Additional calls cannot be made before September 1st of your senior year

Men’s Basketball Specific: In the summer of 2012 The NCAA adopted new contact rules for men’s D1 basketball. Coaches will be allowed unlimited phone calls starting June 15 after a recruit’s sophomore year. Private messages on social networks also will be deregulated. Women’s basketball calls can begin on September 1st of your junior year. Once that begins, the calls from coaches are unlimited.

Women’s Ice Hockey – A college coach may call International college-bound student-athletes once on or after July 7th after sophomore year. One call per week beginning July 7th after junior year.

Men’s Ice Hockey – College coaches may begin calling on January 1st of your sophomore year.

Other Sports: Swimming & diving, cross country, track and field may not be made before July 1st following junior year.

What is the Academic Index or AI that Ivy colleges use?

As a league, the Ivy’s monitor athletic admissions via a concept called the Academic Index or AI. The academic index is not a secret, but it’s not something readily discussed by coaches and administrators. The academic index is a computed score of three components – SAT I, SAT II, and GPA (Class rank was removed in 2011 from the calculation).  The minimum AI for all IVY League Schools was raised to 176 in 2011 (the max is 240). Also, the mean score at each school depends on the quality of the student body; therefore, it will vary (slightly) from school to school, so Harvard will have a higher AI than Dartmouth.

Odds for an athletic scholarship do not depend on participation numbers

Some recruiting services pitch exposure as the ultimate recruiting tool and the number one reason that you won’t be recruited, using the theory that if college coaches do not know you, they cannot recruit you.

While exposure is important, it’s exposure at the right level coupled with what a coach needs for their team and what a coach looks for in a player. No amount of exposure will help you get recruited by any college coach in any sport if you lack the size or skill to play for that particular coach and/or team.

According to the National Federation of High Schools, the greatest participation by high school athletes is in high school football, with 1,023,142 boys participating at the high school level? What does this mean for your recruiting efforts? Well, nothing really!

A recent recruiting services pitch we came across was as follows…. “There are 6.9 million high school athletes, how will you stand out?” – “There are 254,000 seniors who play high school football. There are only 5,042 athletic scholarships awarded at the D1 level. Your odds are 1-50 that you get a scholarship.”

Let’s look at these figures a little more closely…

The “6.9 million high school athletes” participation figure has nothing to do with YOUR recruiting process mainly because over 6 million of those kids are underclassmen and don’t play your sport and quite frankly, it’s a meaningless number. If you want to know how meaningless it is, consider this – Nationally, out of 100 9th graders, 68 will graduate from high school, 40 will enter college directly, 27 are still enrolled in college in their second year, and 18 will graduate from college. – US Dept. of Education – So right away that that 6.9 million number has been shrunk greatly because not all of those kids will even make it out of high school, which will probably make it difficult for them to be college athletes.

Now let’s look at the second statement in more detail about high school football participation.

There are several problems with looking at the football participation number. First off, not every high school athlete who plays football in high school is interested in playing in college, just as not every person who goes to high school goes to college. Some students play sports in high school just to play sports and have no desire to continue after high school. My high school baseball team senior year had 6 seniors. Only myself and one other player attempted (and succeeded) to continue our baseball career at the college level. So the number of players I was competing against on my team dropped 66 percent because 4 of them didn’t try to get recruited.

Now let’s look at the second figure about 5,042 athletic scholarships each year at the D1 level for football.

D1 football team are required to offer 85 athletic scholarships (and no more per team) and there are roughly 119 football teams at the 1A level and you can divide 85 by 4 because each coach has about 21.25 scholarships per year. In reality, Division 1 football coaches can sign 28 recruits under the NLI program but can only have 25 players receive a scholarship in the new year, but for use of this example I will stick with 21.25 because they cannot have more than 85 players on the team under full scholarship.

At the D1 level, there are roughly 2,528 athletic football scholarships available each year. (21.25 scholarships x 119 schools) give or take a few scholarships as no coach can recruit .25 players.

There are 116 1-AA football teams. These teams are allowed to offer 63 athletic scholarships per team. 63 athletic scholarships divided by 4 years equals about 16 scholarships a year. 16 scholarships a year times 116 teams equals 1,856 athletic scholarships available per year. But wait, each football team in the Ivy League competes at the 1AA level, but they do not offer athletic scholarships. Now we have to deduct about 150 scholarships to maybe 1,706 at the 1AA level. It’s also unlikely that every 1AA team offers 63 scholarships but for the sake of argument, we will say they do.

Now, let’s say there are roughly 4,234 football scholarships (2,528+1,706) awarded at the Division 1 level and Division 1AA level each year, and that’s assuming every 1AA team offers the maximum of 63 athletic scholarships (highly unlikely).

Now to the important stuff!

Not every high school football player is going to play D1, wants to play D1, or can play D1. How can someone say that you are competing for a scholarship at the D1 level against a 150 pound backup receiver at pick a name high school who would be lucky to play at a low level D3 program if anywhere?

Let’s say 50% of all high school (senior) football players want to play in college (which I think is a very generous estimate), the total number drops to 127,000 senior football players. Now there are 119 1A teams, 116 1AA teams, 151 D2 teams and 229 D3 teams. That’s 615 teams. If each team had 50 players, there are enough spots for 30,750 high school football players to play in college. Some college programs carry over 100 players even 120 and sometimes might only have 40, it all depends on the program, but 50 per team I think is a fairly generous estimate on my part.

Let’s now say that out of those 127,000 kids who want to play football in college, only 20% have the skill, the size, the speed, and desire to play at the highest D1 level. Now the number is 25,400 players. A far cry from the 1-50 odds of getting a D1 scholarship and more like 1 in 6. (25,000+ players for roughly 4,000+ spots). This doesn’t factor in the fact that many of these players might be basketball or baseball players who have no interest of playing football in college, but are still playing football in high school and get counted in the pool of 1 million plus players. And this will go for many sports, as there is so much overlap at the high school level. If a football player is really a baseball player trying to get recruited for baseball only, you aren’t competing against that player for a college roster spot, because they aren’t interested in football at the college level.

It has nothing to do with numbers of high school players and all to do with how many players want to continue at the D1 level and have the skills to continue at the D1 level.

If you don’t have the size, speed and skill to play at the D1 level, you have NO odds (It would be like trying to win the lottery without actually purchasing a ticket!), but if you do have the size, speed, skill and desire to play D1 football, the odds of you receiving an athletic scholarship are better than people might lead you to believe. In reality, you are not competing against 254,000 other high school football players, you are competing against a few thousand kids who possess the size, skill and speed to play at that level. Again, while exposure is important, it’s exposure at the right level that will help you get recruited. No amount of exposure will make up for a lack of size, speed and skill, especially at the D1 football level (or any level for that matter).

These same arguments apply to any sport, regardless of exposure. In order to receive an athletic scholarship, three things have to happen. One, you have to find a program that has available scholarships to offer. Two – you have to find a program that has a pressing need that the coach is trying to fill, meaning if you are a catcher or a goalie and the coach has 3 catchers or 3 goalies already they might not be recruiting for your position despite your success or skills. And three, you have to be extremely talented and you have to contact the coach and find a way to display your skills to that coach. While there are hundreds of thousands of high school athletes, there are not hundreds of thousands of high school athletes that have the skills to compete at the high D1 level or the skills to be awarded an athletic scholarship.