In a recent post, I discussed how the Student-Athletes’ Right to Know Act helps parents and student-athletes ask coaches the important questions during the recruiting process. This law only applies to schools that offer athletic scholarships. However, student-athletes and parents of student-athletes recruited by Division II and Division III schools that do not offer athletic scholarships must also be prepared to navigate the recruiting process. Here are a few questions that parents and student-athletes should ask of recruiters:
The time commitment involved in competing at the Division II or III level varies greatly among divisions, conferences and schools. At some schools, student-athletes may have structured daily schedules, with mandatory study halls, team meetings and team practices. At other schools, the commitment is more reminiscent of high school, with practices and games comprising the only team obligations. Recruits should inquire as to the typical daily schedule both during the season, in the off-season and during the summer. In addition, the balance between academics and athletics should be examined. Some coaches may require student-athletes to refrain from taking certain classes (such as those requiring lab time) as they might conflict with team commitments, while other coaches may allow players to be late or even miss certain team events for academic conflicts.
Recruits must ask whether they are required to try out for the particular team for which they are being recruited. Although a recruit might assume that he or she is assured a spot on the team by virtue of their recruitment, this is not always the case. Some coaches prefer to recruit more athletes than available roster spots and let the athletes compete for a place on the team. Other times, the number of new student-athletes may be difficult to predict, especially due to the fact that scholarships are not offered, and talented players may unexpectedly “walk on” the team.
Retention and Stability
Recruits should ask how many student-athletes are members of the team for all four years of their college career to gauge the retention level of student-athletes. Presumably a high retention level indicates that student-athletes enjoy being part of the team. In addition, student-athletes should ask about stability on the coaching staff. Some coaches might view coaching at this level as a stepping stone, while others may have long-standing ties to the school and community. Neither situation is necessarily better, but a student-athlete should at least inquire and consider whether the coaching staff is likley to be in place when he or she is a senior.
This is by no means an exclusive list, but simply a few ideas to help parents and student-athletes navigate the recruiting process at the non-scholarship levels. For more on the recruiting process, see the following: