• Jason

Why College Coaches Should Be More Honest With Athletes

It's a really long title, I know...I'm sorry.

I am always appreciative of my friends in the college coach community that reach out to me with statements like...

"She isn't really what we are looking for..."

"We aren't recruiting that position right now..."

"We already have a list of athletes we are confident about..."

These kind of responses are insanely helpful in the recruiting process. The only issue, is that they probably aren't said enough. Less than 4% of high school volleyball players are playing volleyball in college at the NCAA level (D1, D2 and D3). That means that athletes are either weeding themselves out or getting the hint when college coaches don't respond to emails.

So, why should college coaches be MORE honest with athletes? Because it will help the recruiting process for substantially more athletes go smoother, be less stressful and benefit both the athlete and the coach.

While it is almost impossible to respond to every single email a college coach gets, the more often a college coach responds with a "no" email, it increases the chance of getting at least one less email from that athlete down the road. This will also enable the athlete to be more focused on schools that are a better fit both athletically and academically.

I'm not a fan of the tiered recruiting system (I talk about that HERE) because while the top group and even the top 2 or 3 of that group, are making campus visits, doing virtual tours and meeting with current athletes over Zoom, the other group (or tier) is calmly waiting to hear back from the coach and trying to move forward with the process but can't.

I think this begins to send the wrong message to athletes. Yes, ANYTHING can happen in recruiting. But once you start talking about being outside of a school's "Top 5" there is very little chance, if any, that the school is going to make it down their list to where this athlete is sitting. But, we still ask athletes to hold on to that hope.

Why don't college coaches say "No" more often? Well, sitting in that chair, you are worried about all of the crazy things that could happen and you telling that kid "No" 3 months ago means that you can't call them up and see if they are still interested. I will say this though, depending on the school and the situation, I know a TON more families that would be okay with jumping back into the mix with a school that had said "no" before. It happened a year or so ago with an athlete I know. She, nor the family, was like "Well, they didn't want us the first time," they were instead eager and excited about the opportunity with the school. Sure, some athletes and even college coaches would be hurt by being told no, but being told no is always and forever part of the process. There was a part of me when I took my first head coaching job that was like "they didn't want me the first time," but lucky for me I had some really good friends tell me "If it's something you want, you can't always dictate how that happens and you can't be mad about the process." So I took the job and had 3 amazing years as a head coach, getting to coach with some of my favorite people and was able to coach some awesome athletes and people, that literally put everything they had on the line physically and mentally in order to be the best that they could be.

The other reason college coaches don't say "no" more often is because of camp. They want/need the camp numbers to be as high as possible to supplement their assistant coaches and other program needs. The only thing wrong with this is how misleading it is to the 80% of athletes that come to camp. Now, obviously not every single athlete is hoping for a full-ride from each specific camp they go to, but camps are a huge deal and spending time, energy and money on a camp that will not give them an opportunity to play at that school, or that the coaching staff has 0 interest in recruiting is certainly misleading. I know that several times we told a specific athlete that we were done with her class and position and told her she should go to a different camp. In one instance we refunded the athlete. Not to put myself above any other coach, but this is important process and we as college coaches should be the first to understand the negative cost of an athlete attending a camp they have no businesses in attending.

Maybe it's too simplistic, but I would think the evaluation of "Do I want this athlete to come play for me?" should be a question that is answered and answered quickly. I get that right now with COVID, NCAA eligibility issues and only really being able to recruit off of film makes answering this question all the more difficult. I just think we can help this process go a lot smoother for athletes across a wide spectrum if we were more honest about where we really are in the recruiting process.

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