Common Myths About Scholarships, Recruiting and Eligibility

The recruiting process is a complex process, and you can’t possibly learn everything you need to know in one article. That said, there are many valuable-to-know, commonly misunderstood aspects of recruiting, scholarships, and eligibility that we address here.  How athletes get recruited has changed significantly over the last 10 years and knowing the new realities is going to make the difference between getting a scholarship and missing your chance.

We address some of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of scholarships, recruiting and eligibility below:


Scholarship Myths

My scholarship will cover most of the costs of college

Only full-ride scholarships come close to covering 100% of the costs associated with college – and most scholarships are not full-rides. The majority of scholarship athletes are asked to pay for 50% or more of their education. The size, type and likelihood of getting a scholarship all depends on the sport you play and your qualifications. Learn more on the head count versus equivalency scholarship page.

My scholarship is good for four years

Since 1972 scholarships have been one-year agreements. When coaches say you have a “four-year” scholarship, it is only a verbal commitment and not an official four-year offer. While most coaches make good on their word and renew the scholarship each year, coaching changes, injury or academic eligibility are all reasons why you could lose your scholarship.

Verbal scholarship offers are the same as official scholarship offers

When you hear about an athlete “getting a scholarship” before their senior year, this is called a verbal scholarship and does not guarantee a scholarship offer will be made in their senior year. Coaches offer scholarships to athletes early in the recruiting process as a way to lock down commitments, but injury, coaching changes and a change of heart by the athlete can create a situation where an athlete does not get an official scholarship offer in their senior year.

If you are good enough you can always get a full-ride

This isn’t true. Unless the sport is a head-count sport (guaranteed full-ride scholarships) the majority of athletes are on partial scholarships. While coaches have the ability to grant a full-ride in equivalency sports, they usually offer only partial scholarships and try to spread the money between more athletes.  In sports like Lacrosse, Baseball and Wrestling, it is not uncommon to have All-Americans who are not on full-rides.

If I need an athletic scholarship I can’t play DIII

Just because NCAA DIII schools can’t offer “athletic scholarships,” doesn’t mean they can’t provide financial aid. DIII financial aid comes in the form of grants and other types of scholarships. When comparing the size of average financial aid for a student-athlete, NCAA DIII schools can sometimes provide the same amount that an athlete would be able to get at the DI or DII level.


Recruiting Myths

If I am good enough coaches will find me

This isn’t true. While being an All-Region or even All-State athlete will help your chances of getting discovered, it doesn’t guarantee it. Additionally, playing in the big showcases and tournaments won’t ensure coaches find you either. Coaches go to these events with a list of recruits they are there to watch – they don’t go there looking for undiscovered talent. The best way to ensure a school knows who you are is to proactively email them; this ensures that the programs you are interested in hear from you.

It is my high school and club team coach’s job to help get me exposure to college coaches

There is a lot your high school and club team coaches can do to help, but it is not their job to ensure their athletes get recruited. Make sure your coaches know you are contacting college programs, and that you’re prepared for emails and calls from college coaches. They (college coaches) might be restricted from contacting you (the recruit) directly, and they will need to arrange a time to connect with you through your high school or club team coach.

Coaches don’t really begin recruiting athletes until their junior year of high school

Coaches at the top division levels are actively recruiting athletes as early as the 7th and 8th grade. While most athletes won’t fit into this category, everyone should be actively working on their recruiting starting their freshman year of high school. This means setting your high school classes to ensure academic eligibility, and finding the training that is going to help you develop into a college athlete.

I’ll get discovered at the big tournaments and showcases

Coaches don’t scout these events hoping to discover talent. They come to the large showcases with a list of athletes they want to evaluate in person. Coaches are making initial evaluations on film or through scouting reports, then coming to these events to make their in-person evaluations. You can get discovered if you happen to catch a coach’s eye, but you stand a far better chance if you contact the coach before the event.

If I am receiving letters and camp invites, I am being recruited

Depending on the program, they could be sending out thousands of letters and camp invites. Many programs use the first letters just to find out if a recruit is interested. Additionally, camps are a big money maker for coaches and their programs. Unless they are personalized letters or invites where a coach leaves their personal contact information, don’t take the letter as a serious sign of interest.

Coaches don’t open mass emails from recruiting services

Some coaches do and some coaches don’t. As with many things in recruiting, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” method. An email from a recruiting service to coaches should be one of many methods you are using to get recruited. If you are expecting to get discovered using only emails from recruiting services or only having a recruiting profile, you don’t have the right approach to recruiting.

Coaches don’t look at online profiles of athletes

Not every program searches online databases for athletes but almost every program evaluates recruits online (usually by watching film or checking rankings and results). Good online profiles do more than just get coaches to look at you, they should help you stay organized and be a one-stop-shop for athletes and families.


Eligibility Myths

I can make up for bad grades later in high school

Due to new NCAA rules about core courses, it is extremely difficult to make up for poor performance early in high school. After your junior year of high school, your first 10 core courses are “locked in,” meaning you can’t retake the course for a higher grade. Your grades in your first few years of high school matter a lot more than they used to.

As long as I pass my classes in high school I will be eligible

There are specific lists of NCAA core courses you need to take in order to be eligible at the NCAA DI or DII level. Don’t assume the English or Math class you are taking is going to meet the requirements. You should sit down with your high school counselor and make sure your list of classes you will be taking in high school are all on your high school’s NCAA approved list.

Grades don’t matter as long as I am good enough

Assuming a coach can just “get you eligible” is a dangerous strategy. The new NCAA rules about retaking classes and making up for missed classes later in high school make it almost impossible to “catch up.” Additionally, most coaches can only get an athlete through admissions. And even if you meet the NCAA or NAIA minimums, those might not be good enough to get through a school’s admissions. Coaches will do a lot to get a 5-star recruit eligible, but assuming you are going to get the same treatment is going to greatly reduce the number of colleges interested in you.

The NCAA Eligibility Center will help me get eligible

The NCAA Eligibility Center does not help you “get eligible,” it only determines if you are eligible given your grades and test scores. When you send your academic records to the NCAA, they hold on to that information until a college requests your eligibility status. They will not tell you if you are eligible unless an NCAA DI or DII program requests your status. This is why you need to make sure you are going to be playing NCAA DI or DII sports when you register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. To make sure you are on track to be eligible, confer with your high school counselor.

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