Understanding the NCAA Recruitment Process

By Tracy Wright

If you are the parent of a high school student-athlete, you may be wondering what your child needs to do to play at the collegiate level. 

Timing is important. While some athletes are recruited as early as middle school for high demand sports, this is not the norm. Most students begin the recruiting process by the end of their sophomore or beginning of their junior year. 

Besides sports, academics are paramount in high school. Getting good grades and a good score on the ACT and SAT are important in the process of qualifying and maintaining eligibility. Depending on the sport and the type of school they are applying to, a full athletic scholarship may not be possible. Many schools supplement a partial athletic scholarship with an academic scholarship, said MaxPreps.com, a high school sports website. 

Honestly assessing your child’s athletic ability is important. Keep an open line of communication with your child’s high school coach to properly understand their athletic ability and potential. Ask them if they are willing to reach out to colleges on behalf of your child. 

There are different types of colleges as well. In addition to the well-known NCAA Division I schools, there are also Division II, III and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) schools that can offer different types of support and experiences for your student-athlete. 

It’s important to be very open with your child about their needs. Remember this is your child’s recruiting process and they need to be happy with their decision. The right fit matters more than the level of athletic program, Field Level says. 

There are several things that both parents and students can do to help the recruiting process. 

The first step is to register at the NCAA Eligibility Center. Create a certification account to make official visits to Division I and II schools or to sign a National Letter of Intent, says the NCAA Eligibility Center. If your child is undecided on whether they will be pursuing athletics at a Division I, II, III or NAIA school, create a free profile page and NCAA ID to get updates. Once you register, make sure both of you are staying current on their eligibility. 

Consider registering with a recruiting website that can give you a higher profile with coaches. Sites like BeRecruited or Field Level allow your child to create a free or paid profile. Take quality video and create a highlights package to send to coaches who request it or post to YouTube or a recruiting site. Reach out to coaches at schools of interest. 

Remember that nobody receives a four-year athletic scholarship. Scholarships are renewed annually so families should consider this when selecting schools and their financial commitment. Even full scholarships don’t typically cover all costs. 

Enjoy the process and let your child take the lead. As one parent on Field Level advises, “Relax! Just take the time to enjoy this journey with your kids. Appreciate the fact that you get to spend lots of time with them figuring this stuff out. Try and create some amazing memories doing it. Let them lead the way and find their own path. 


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