#10 Recruiting Corner: Walking-on at a University and Multi-year Scholarships

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Joshua: And we’re back for another round of The Recruiting Corner, bringing you the latest breaking news in college recruiting. David, what is on our schedule today?

David: Lots of things going on. We go back to multi-year scholarships. NCAA Division II Lacrosse packs up and moves down to Florida. We’ve got US Soccer Development Academy makes a huge move that’s going to impact soccer recruiting from now until forever. We get to play NCAA President and make our one rule change to the NCAA.

Joshua: A little bit of rule changes?

David: And we’re going to be answering three Facebook questions this week, so we have a lot to cover. We’ll get right to it.

One of our favorite sites, BusinessofCollegeSports.com, they cover multi-year scholarships again. Why don’t you tell our audience what’s the story there and what did they bring up?

Joshua: Basically, obviously, a little while ago schools’ Division I programs elected to have multi-year scholarships outside of the normal year-to-year scholarship renewal program. Right now, as of two days ago, there are votes going on. If five-eighths of all Division I programs decide to vote against multi-year scholarships, they will be out.

Now the deal with the multi-year scholarships is this. Number one, the schools that can afford them are going to have massive recruiting advantages against schools that can’t. So that’s one issue they are looking at. For recruits out there, you have to look out for your best interests as well.

It may not be the greatest idea, again, to sign a multi-year scholarship, depending. If they offer you a small multi-year scholarship in the beginning and you sign that, you are locked in, whereas maybe the first year you play for that small single-year scholarship, you do really well, and all of a sudden they find out you’re valuable and they want to offer you more money.

It’s an interesting thing there. I believe that they also said for the athletes that are signing the multi-year scholarships, that signed them back in October, it’s going to be interesting for them as well because they might have them taken away. There are some legality battles around that.

David: It’ll be interesting to see. I think the multi-year scholarships was a hastily-made rule. I don’t anticipate it passing, but it’s a step in the right direction, giving more control to the student athletes.

Joshua: Another hastily-made rule in the history of the NCAA.

David: Shocking.

Joshua: They have a nice history of doing this.

David: Division II Lacrosse is not a huge sport at that division level for colleges, but they are making a strong push down in Florida. What’s going on?

Joshua: They are. Lacrosse, obviously everybody knows, is a northeastern sport. There aren’t a ton of schools in the South that play. But it’s growing with high school athletes, and therefore it’s starting to make the move south.

There are five schools in Florida now that have Division II programs, so it’s pretty neat. The school that just adopted it is University of Tampa, so a shout-out to UT. Thanks for bringing on another program and giving more high school lacrosse players an opportunity to play in college.

David: Definitely. So if you’re a lacrosse player and maybe you want to get out of that cold Northeast, go down to sunny Florida and play some lacrosse for a developing program. It could be a good opportunity.

Joshua: They actually mentioned in the article about the recruiting advantages that Florida has because they do take these kids out of the snow and offer them sunshine and beaches. Who doesn’t like that?

David: Big news coming from the US Soccer Development Academy. If you don’t know, this is the agency that is in charge of developing US soccer talent for our men’s national team and competing at the international level. They just created a new rule where they standardized the Development Academy’s season to a 10-month long club soccer season. This is going to kill high school soccer and has major implications for soccer recruiting. Give us the rundown.

Joshua: I don’t necessarily agree with the fact that it’s going to kill high school soccer. I have some numbers here to present. Number one, I will say that making this 10-month season club soccer will hurt high school soccer for a certain sport. It is also going to price out a lot of families because of the fact that, with only 75 teams nationwide, there’s a lot of travel involved. I believe David and I were discussing that there’s probably going to be at least four or five flights a year that these teams are going to have to take, which are going to be paid for by the families. A lot of families will not be able to afford to play this high level of elite club soccer.

But let’s look at high school soccer overall. Right now, boy’s soccer, there are roughly 383,000 kids playing high school soccer. The limited club is really only 3,000 kids. Well, that’s less than 1% of all high school athletes that will be affected by this.

Technically speaking, there are over 5,000 kids playing Division I boys soccer, which means that less than 75%-ish of the students that would be playing this high-level elite club soccer would even play Division I. There are 2,000 kids that are able to play Division I, another 4,500 play Division II, and then over 10,000 play Division III.

As far as high school recruiting is concerned in high school soccer, I think there’s still plenty of opportunity to get recruited, to move up into the higher ranks, even if the first 3,000 slots are taken by all of these athletes. The same thing goes for girls. Over 346,000 students, again, less than 1% playing in its elite club, and then over 7,000 playing in Division I, and over 5,000 in Division II, and again over 10,000 in Division III. So there are still great opportunities.

But at the same time, I do understand the implications of getting these kids away from the high school soccer.

David: I think you’re right on. There are plenty of opportunities outside of these elite clubs. But I think what you’re going to see is more clubs seek to join and become a US Development Academy club, and if you start getting 150 clubs nationwide playing in this academy, they are really going to put that Division I recruiting on lockdown. It will be something to watch going forward, and of course we’ll be covering it.

The next bit of news coming from Brad Wolverton, one of our favorite columnists over at The Chronicle, he asked, “What would you do if you could change one NCAA rule?”

Joshua: I would like to change more than one. I definitely think that the NCAA is just a bunch of hoopla, basically. I think that they are very reactive instead of proactive as far the rule changes.

The one thing I would like to see changed is I would like to see harsher penalties for coaches that cheat. I don’t care if you’re a football coach that’s cheating or a bowling coach that’s cheating. I think if you’re a coach that’s caught in cheating scandal, something like what happened to Jim Tressel this year among other coaches, I think you should be barred from the game for about five years. I don’t think you should be able to jump into the NFL because I believe that’s a scapegoat.

I also think that the penalties for players should be harsher. I think if you’re caught cheating, you’re off. You’re done. Not, “Go find another team,” not, “Jump in the NFL”. I think your football career is completely over with. If you’re cheating as a freshman, you can try and make the jump to the NFL, but it makes it that much more unlikely.

The whole situation with Terrelle Pryor just upset me for the fact that he was able to cheat. But it’s like, “You cheated. You knew you cheated. You basically screwed your school, yet you went to the NFL and got a $7 million contract or something like that. Happy millionaire, thanks for cheating.”

David: Yeah. I think those are definitely valid rules to change. For me, I think one of the biggest disconnects right now is kids are being asked to commit as sophomores and juniors in high school, and they’re not being given the opportunity to communicate with coaches that openly or take visits to schools. I think we need to get rid of those rules that bar coaches from contacting kids before their senior or even junior year. If you’re going to start recruiting a kid as a freshman and a sophomore, you should be allowed to communicate with them and bring them on to a visit to a campus before you ask them to make a verbal commitment.

That’s a rule I would like to see changed. Where it is, they are going to be addressing the contact rules with the NCAA pretty soon here, so maybe we’ll get to see that wish come true.

Joshua: Yeah, I definitely agree that the athletes should have contact before, and I believe the rule that’s in place that they are trying to change right now is to make it after June 15th of your sophomore year. It will give you two good years of pure contact with coaches, whereas right now you have less than one.

David: Right, exactly. A great question we asked on our Facebook page and we’ve got a ton of great questions that we want to address. We asked, “Would you consider making a walk-on attempt at a campus, and is that something that you are considering?”

The first question is from Raul. He asked, “What does a walk-on even mean?”

Joshua: All right, guys. Well, walk-on means is that you are part of the team if you make it. There are two types. There’s a preferred walk-on, which is a recruited athlete that is basically told by the coach, “Hey, we don’t have a scholarship for you at this point. We’d love for you to be part of our team. We need you to walk on.” Then there’s a regular walk-on, which means you enroll at the school and then you decide to try out for the program.

Those are two different distinctions. With a preferred walk-on, a roster spot is held for you, whereas if you walk on, you’re basically going and trying out. It’s important to understand that coaches look for walk-ons because not every sport has enough scholarships for every player. College sports are fueled by walk-on athletes.

David: All right. Great. The next question comes from Renaud [SP]. He asks, “Who do I talk to about walking on?”

Joshua: Basically, to get a walk-on opportunity you want to contact the coaching staff. Just like you would for a scholarship, you want to tell them, “Hey, this is what I’m capable of. I would like to walk on.” Be specific in those words, because that means all of a sudden you might get the coach’s attention. You’re a free athlete.

David: Exactly, and that’s the important part to remember. You are trying to get that preferred walk-on, so you’re contacting coaches to try and get them to give you that preferred walk-on status. It’s just like any other effort of contacting coaches and finding out about that try-out.

The last question coming from Adrian, he goes, “I want to know is there a list of walk-on opportunities that I can find online.”

Joshua: There is not a specific list of walk-on opportunities, but you have to understand every program is open to walk-on athletes. The fact that you are not going to cost them any money, just keep that in mind. They will be open as long as you’re talented enough to provide something quality to their team.

David: Right. There’s not a standard process for walking on. Some football teams have a couple-week camp for walk-ons. Some programs have a couple of days. It just depends. Each school is a little bit different. So contact the coaches and get the word from them.

Joshua: Guys, it’s important to understand when you do walk on, if you are not a recruited preferred walk-on and you’re just trying out for the team, if you don’t make it, you are a student at that university for at least that semester. You have to be a student to be able to walk on. So keep that in mind. Make sure you’re trying to walk on a program that you really, really want to go to school at.

David: That’s a very good point. All right. Last weekend you went to the AT&T. How was it?

Joshua: I did. It was awesome. I followed Tiger and Phil, as did the rest of the three million people that were there. That’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but there were a lot. What was really neat is, as we were leaving, I looked up and . . . Mercedes gives all the players rental cars and it’s all done through Hertz. As I was leaving, I noticed a white Mercedes SUV sitting right in front of us, and in the driver seat was Tiger Woods, about five feet from me. So that was pretty cool.

David: Right on. So how are you going to top it this weekend? What are you up to?

Joshua: You know what? I actually don’t have any plans for this weekend. I am truly sad to say that I do not have anything. Yourself?

David: The same. Still looking. Nice weather outside. I’ll be outside getting off the computer for a few hours and having a good weekend.

Joshua: All right. Notable, guys. You know how to contact us, @JZimmy67, @DavidRFrank, @Athnet. You guys have a great one. Thanks.

David: Thanks.

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