The topics of scholarship offers and dollar amounts are regular sources of frustration in the recruiting process. Most athletes and families over estimate how common and how big scholarship offers are and they get discouraged if a coach doesn’t make a big offer. Below I share some of the most common situations where athletes and coaches have misunderstandings and explain why they happen.
Coach’s Goals Aren’t the Same as Yours
This seems obvious, but it is easy to forget coaches aren’t trying to achieve the same thing as you in the recruiting process. Scholarships are a limited resource and a coach is trying to stretch their dollars. If they can get an athlete to commit and play for less or no money, it helps their recruiting. They aren’t trying to “screw the athlete over,” but simply trying to do the best job they can in putting their team together. It is not a coach’s job to give athletes athletic scholarships, it is their job to win and get the best athletes they can; scholarships are a tool they use to make that happen.
Don’t Confuse Recruiting for Scholarships
I’ve heard many families complain, “if they didn’t have any scholarship money, why did they recruit my athlete so hard?” Coaches will recruit walk-ons just as hard as scholarship athletes. Getting recruited hard doesn’t mean you are going to get a scholarship. Coaches know if they start a conversation with a recruit by saying “I am not going to give you any scholarship money, but…” they will get the door closed in their face. However, if they can get the athlete excited about the opportunity to play for them, they have a better chance of getting that athlete to commit without scholarship money. This isn’t dishonest, it is just a coach doing their job.
The Rules Aren’t the Same for All Coaches
Some coaches can be very direct about how much scholarship money they have and how much you can expect. Other coaches will be vague, even flat out refusing to answer when you ask how much you could get in scholarship money. This doesn’t mean one coach is being honest and the other isn’t; some coaches are prohibited by their universities from telling an athlete how much scholarship money they will get until the athlete commits to the school. You will never know what type of rules a coach has to follow regarding financial aid and admissions discussions with athletes. It is okay to ask coaches questions about scholarships, but if they don’t answer, they probably have a good reason.
Assistant Coaches Might Not Be Allowed to Make the Final Call
Sometimes the coach recruiting you isn’t the one who will make the final call on offering you a scholarship. This is especially common in bigger DI schools where assistant coaches do a lot of the initial recruiting. These coaches are responsible for finding recruits and gathering the information needed to evaluate them with the other coaches. The assistant coach recruiting you and might “really like you,” but, if the program decides they like another recruit more you won’t be getting an offer. In these scenarios families feel like the coach was lying and wasted their time, but they (the coach recruiting you) are probably just as disappointed to lose you.
*Something to remember in this scenario – Assistant coaches frequently change programs and often times will try to contact the recruits they were recruiting at their old program. Don’t burn bridges if one program doesn’t work out, you never know what opportunities might open up later.
There is more than meets the eye when trying to understand why a coach is doing or acting a certain way. You have to try and not take things personal when coaches stop communicating or aren’t answering specific questions. Coach’s motivations in the recruiting process are very different than yours and as long as you can keep that perspective, you stand your best chance at finding the right university.
If you have any questions about particular things happening in your communications with coaches, leave them in the comments below or contact me directly firstname.lastname@example.org.