Why Planning is Necessary for Recruiting Success

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Today's college athletic climate is much different than it was 20 years ago. Coaches are under tremendous pressure to achieve two important goals: winning games and raising money. One directly affects the other. Alumni will enthusiastically support a winning team [and the opposite is also true]. The cost of effectively managing a successful athletics department has increased dramatically, while support from university subvention has, in most cases, increased slightly or not at all.

Recruitment is essential for the collegiate coach to maximize future team advancement. It is achieved through active cultivation of strong relationships with high school coaches, prospects and their families. College coaches use many tools to reach prospects, coaches and families, but must abide by strict NCAA rules and regulations.

Through the use of telephone, electronic messaging, home visits and the offer of official college visits, the college coach will attempt to cultivate a relationship that will hopefully result in matching a prospect with his or her institution.

A strong college coach and talented recruiter will approach each family with respect, offering real and honest information regarding the university and the prospect's chances in both admission to the school and recruitment to the team. He or she will answer every question the family asks and will work diligently to avoid gray areas, especially when it involves athletic scholarships and, in the case of non-scholarship schools, the chance for acceptance.

A productive family effort will be well-planned and impeccably executed. It will involve a team approach that may consist of the following players: parents, prospect, high school/club coach, college adviser, guidance counselor and personal mentor. Each team player will have a specific role to play to ensure the prospect's best chance at achieving the goal. Advance goals should be set with clarity and purpose. The well-prepared approach will, in the end, have the best chance of achieving success.

Knowledgeable consumers have a clear edge over the general population in garnering any worthy product. I believe the same holds true in the college search. It is the obligation of the family to make every effort to accumulate pertinent information regarding the process and to execute well-designed plans.

The college recruiting process is both exciting and daunting. It requires a disciplined and yet flexible approach, especially when timelines get tight and situations become challenging. Clear communication (on both sides) is vital, and effective participants will build mutually strong and respectful relationships and maximize communication to achieve the desired results.

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Tom Kovic is the founder and president of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he advises families and prospective student-athletes in developing and executing personal plans for the college search. Kovic has delivered nearly 300 presentations and seminars to over 3,500 participants. He is the author of Reaching for Excellence, an educational guide to college athletics recruiting, and he is a regular contributor to numerous educational and sports publications.

Prior to founding his own company, Kovic coached gymnastics at The University of Pennsylvania. He has coached 34 individual Ivy League Champions, three ECAC athletes of the year and more than 160 NCAA Academic All-Americans. He was named ECAC Coach of the Year twice.

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