College Recruitment and Athletic Eligibility
Many of our student-athletes express an interest in continuing their athletic participation at the collegiate level. While there are many opportunities for our athletes to play at the next level, athletic scholarships are limited and are available primarily for the “elite athlete’.
The term “scholarship” very often has been used in an all-inclusive way. It should be noted that the term “scholarship” is referred to in different ways throughout varied sources. It could include any one or combination of other terms, such as financial aid, grants, loans, work study program and aid from private or government sources. Very often the amount and method of scholarship is dependent on the level or division of play at which a particular college competes. It is important for the student-athlete and parents to understand:
- The type of financial package (if applicable) being discussed; and,
- The obligations, terms, conditions and longevity of such arrangements; and,
- How the financial package compares to the actual cost of attending the institution.
The following associations govern the conduct of collegiate athletics, the eligibility of the student-athlete and the availability of athletic scholarships:
- The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
- The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)
There are other associations of colleges and conferences that may or may not affiliate with larger associations and abide by their rules. It is important to inquire about the school’s affiliation, to ensure that eligibility standards are met and that appropriate recruitment guidelines are followed.
Athletes who aspire to participate at the collegiate level and their parents should discuss potential collegiate opportunities for play with the head varsity coach and guidance counselor in order to determine the “best fit” with respect to schools that match a student athlete’s academic and athletic potential. Although the appropriate time to discuss college options should be at the end of the athlete’s junior year, planning for collegiate participation begins much earlier.
Academic Preparation for the College-Bound Athlete
The process is a long and selective one and the athlete must be fully prepared for the expectations and demands of participation at the collegiate level. Academic eligibility must be planned for well in advance. Athletes need to be aware of the academic requirements for collegiate eligibility when they enter the ninth grade. Communication with guidance counselors is essential, as core course requirements and standards for academic eligibility at the collegiate level must be met. Student-athletes must have eligibility for practice and competition in their freshman year certified by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. Information brochures/forms have been made available to the guidance offices. The NCAA Clearinghouse reviews required core courses and high school transcripts for all prospective Division I and Division II student-athletes (not Division III). An athlete must submit a “Student Release Form”, along with his/her official high school transcripts, ACT and/or SAT scores and a payment fee, to the Clearinghouse. After review, a preliminary certification report will be made available to the student-athlete and the colleges that he or she has selected to receive this information. After graduation, the Clearinghouse will review the final transcript and make a final certification decision. This process must be initiated, through the Guidance Counselor, at the beginning of the student-athlete’s senior year. The standards established for NCAA eligibility by the Clearinghouse are different for Division I and Division II and are occasionally modified. It is essential that parents and student-athletes consult with their counselors to discuss future goals, plan the academic portfolio and obtain the following:
Athletic Participation for the College-Bound Athlete
Playing at the collegiate level requires an intense commitment to a sport. “Scholarships” only come to those that are considered to be “elite” athletes with outstanding accomplishments. Some of the components that athletes can do to increase their potential as a collegiate recruit are as follows:
- Participate on other interscholastic teams year-round if possible. This gives the student-athlete a wider overall perspective and a more impressive resume.
- Participate in summer sport camps.
- Try out for all-star or select teams, such as the Empire State Games Teams, etc., to gain added exposure and visibility.
- Have your current skills evaluated on an ongoing basis.
- Participate in outside community and recreational teams.
- Participate in effective strength and conditioning programs year-round to ensure peak performance.
- Maintain peak performance standards with a commitment to appropriate nutrition.
- Involvement with community, religious organizations, school on a voluntary basis.
When athletes begin play at the varsity level, they should begin to develop a sports resume that includes a listing of their athletic achievements, awards, media coverage, etc., in addition to their academic accomplishments. This resume should be updated periodically.
More specific information about the recruiting process, eligibility guidelines, the athletic profile, campus visitations, and planning for the college-bound athlete is available in “The Guide For College-Bound Student-Athletes and Their Parents” which can be obtained from high school guidance counselors or the athletic office.