It’s Not a Coach’s Job to Give Scholarships

communicating with coachesThe 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

6 Responses to “It’s Not a Coach’s Job to Give Scholarships”

  1. Our daughter has been recruited by several schools. Last fall she decided that she wanted to attend a certain that just achieved D-II status. The coach was recruiting her hard and was up front in saying that scholarship money would be tight the first year in D-II but would do what it took to get our daughter there. Basically telling us that she would provide athletic scholly money to make-up the difference in what academics and her PACT program did not cover. We received a letter from the coach today stating that our daughter would be a preferred walk on. This is not acceptable to us at all. If she were going to walk on it would be at a D-I school. Our daughter is a pitcher and plays the corners. She has 18 H.R.’s and a .600 batting average. We feel as though we were mis-led through this process and have passed up on some other really good offers. Is there anyway of getting her back in recruiting game at this late date.

    • David Frank

      You want to contact every program you had been talking to and see where they are with their recruiting. It is going to be very difficult to find an opportunity at a school you hadn’t been talking to at all because they won’t really have the opportunity to evaluate your daughter. After you have contacted every school, you will have a sense for what options are out there.

      I am sorry to hear about the scholarship money not coming through. You may not believe it, but I am sure the coach is frustrated too. Often times when schools are transition up a division level, money is extremely tight and coaches are often over promised scholarship money. Anytime the money promised doesn’t come in, coaches are left to pass the information along to recruits (something they don’t like to do).

      Best of luck and let me know if you have any questions.

  2. Our daughter had been getting calls and letters for the last two seasons about playing basketball in college from d2 and a few d1 colleges.

    However, after the summer seasoned ended , we have heard nothing from any of those schools. I have been asking her AAU coach if she is hearing things and she says she is, but no official visits or even calls.

    However, there are a few d3’s reaching out to her, but most of those schools are quite expensive.

    Should she be reaching out to some of those schools that had contacted her? Do coaches frown on kids reaching out directly to them?


    • David Frank

      Assuming you were responding to the coaches letters, emails and calls, you should have no problems reaching out to them. Coaches do not frown on athletes reaching out directly, they prefer it. If an athlete is taking initiative to contact them, it lets them know they are interested. This is doubly true if the coach has reached out to the athlete as well.

      Do not wait, call and email the coaches right away.

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