Athletic Recruiting and Attrition
Attrition is the enemy of many college coaches, particularly in the Ivy League because there are not athletic scholarships. Student-athletes in the Ivy League are thus not financially bound to compete in the sport for which they were recruited through their four years of college. If they quit, they don’t forfeit scholarship dollars. But as these students were recruited to compete in these sports, it is the right thing to do, to honor their end of this pact they strike with coaches. It’s too bad that so many student-athletes choose not to meet this obligation. It’s too bad that so many of them choose to quit during their college careers. It’s not something they should be proud of as, in many cases, a key reason why these students were granted admission was to complete in their sport.
What’s even more unsettling to many college coaches, particularly in the Ivy League, is when athletes quit during the first week of freshman year, or — in some cases — before school even begins. We feel for these coaches. These students had no intention of competing in their sport in college. They simply used the coaches to get in. And that’s not right. It’s not right to the coaches. It’s not right to the walk-ons, the student-athletes who weren’t good enough to get recruited but earned admission on their own and worked hard to compete anyway. It’s not as though we speak from personal experience. Wink. Ever see “Rudy”? It’s a great movie. Remember this speech?: “You’re 5 foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, and you have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football players in the land for two years. And you’re gonna walk outta here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself. And after what you’ve gone through, if you haven’t done that by now, it ain’t gonna never happen. Now go on back.”
And while we are critical of student-athletes who use sports to get in but have no intention of competing in these sports come the time they enroll, coaches don’t always do right by students either. We often hear from student-athletes that a coach really loves an applicant, that he or she is going to recruit this student. Sometimes they even say something like, “Johnny has such good SAT scores and such good grades that he might even be able to get in on his own.” That is a major red flag! Here’s our translation of that sentence (in the coach’s mind): “I think Johnny can get in on his own. I don’t have to waste a slot to recruit him. I only get so many slots. I’m going to roll the dice and see if Johnny gets in on his own. This way, I can get all of my top recruits! Oh boy! What should I have for dinner? Maybe I’ll make a meatloaf.” Get the idea? As Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust, but verify.” This famous saying applies to athletic recruits as they deal with college coaches, too.
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