Throughout the recruiting process Dayne Crist was overwhelmed by the instant fame he received from college coaches. He was getting 36 texts a day from different college coaches, none of which he answered. He received emails, letters, and phone calls constantly talking about scholarships and opportunities he would have. Even his parents were feeling the pressure and stress from all the attention their son was getting and he was only a junior in high school. While I know some people who waited until the last minute, literally, to decide what college they wanted to attend in their senior year of high school, Dayne Crist was trying to make the same decision in his junior year of high school and with more pressure on him (Reference A). I went through this same process during my junior year in high school. I started getting calls and emails from college coaches wanting me to come visit their school, because they were interested in me. I felt like my time to decide was so limited and that I needed to make my decision soon or I wouldn’t get into a good college. Throughout the years student athletes have felt pressure and stress from the recruiting process. With new technology, higher competition, helicopter parents, and recruiting starting at a younger and younger age the process have changed throughout these years. These pressures and resources create a cause for more rules and regulations in the recruiting process. With more rules, more are broken.
These days people, specifically coaches and admission boards can find everything they need to know about a student with the click of a button. Before the Internet coaches would have to hear through the grape vine about an athlete and make the trip out to their school and watch them play. These trips also gave them the chance to meet the players and determine what kind of person they are. Now, with all the top ten players and statistic websites coaches do not have to go watch a player to decide if they want them. Also, to decide what kind of person a possible recruit is a coach has many resources online to figure that out, for example, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to name a few. In high school we had lectures teaching us the possible permanence of something you put online and the damage it could cause. My parents never had these kinds of lessons because they did not have the resources that we do today to connect with everyone. “Many athletic departments already use the Internet to assess potential recruits and determine those factors that are most likely to influence their choice of school” (Reference H). Not only do coaches use the Internet to decide whether they like an athlete or not they use this resource to help them figure out what the athlete is looking for in a school. I feel like the Internet has turned recruiting into a dating site. The players are trying to make the best impression they can online to possible future schools while the schools are using this information to make their school seem like the best fit for the athlete. Two other ways the Internet allows coaches easier access to the student-athletes is through online questionnaires and email. As a student athlete you can go onto almost any college sport website and fill out their questionnaire online. This allows the college to find prospective student-athletes without making very much effort. Emails require more energy for the school than online questionnaires, but it also expresses more interest from the school in the students’ eyes. College coaches are not allowed email student-athletes until after their sophomore year according the NCAA regulations. NCAA regulations will be discussed later. Past student athletes did not have access to online questionnaires or email during their recruiting process. Technology has greatly changed the recruiting process by allowing the student-athletes and schools easier and less expensive access to each other.
Every year the competition in athletes get more and more intense. The higher expectations and more advanced technology in regards to equipment put greater pressure on student-athletes. “When I started coaching in 1958, I guess the biggest player I had was 185 or 190 pounds,” says Nick Hyder, head football coach at Valdosta (Ga.) High School. “Today, I’m coaching youngsters who are 250, 270, and are pretty good athletes. That’s on a high school football team, now.” (Reference J). Obviously the physical requirements for athletes to play these days have increased greatly throughout the years. Athletes overall have to become bigger, faster, stronger, and better in order to compete at high level than past athletes had to be. The high competition makes it harder for students to stand out and catch a coaches interest. This may lead students to drugs and/or alcohol, either to try to help them in their performance or just because they need a way to relieve the stress they feel.
“Helicopter parents” is a term I learned the first week in college. Parents that fall under this category are controlling and overly involved in their child’s life in all aspects. The change of parents’ views about their kids throughout the years has also change the recruiting process. Before this new breed of parents exists, kids were basically on their own to figure things out. No, their parents did not want them to fail, but they did make their kids achieve and develop to where they naturally would. These parents get extremely involved in the recruiting process, almost to the extent of where the coaches feel as though they are recruiting the parent instead of the student-athlete. I have seen many cases of this when I was going through the same process. Helicopter parents believe that their children deserve anything they want whether they earned it or not.
Another aspect of recruiting that changes throughout the years is the target age of coaches recruiting athletes. Student-athletes are committing to schools earlier and earlier. Some athletes are completely skipping college and going straight to professional leagues. “[Kevin] Garnett decided to enter pro basketball straight out of high school, and was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves” (Reference J) Not only are college coaches recruiting at a younger age but also professional leagues. I mean look at Thomas Hertl, a 19-year-old hockey player who scored 4 goals for the Sharks against the New York Rangers. The examples of today’s young recruits go on, the list is much longer than it used to be back when my parents were in high school. The combination of younger age recruiting and helicopter parents creates a volatile mixture which tends to lead toward children only being allowed to play one sport and not putting as much emphasis on school work as athletic work. One of my friend’s dad does not let him play golf because he believe it will mess with his baseball swing, he is 12. Kids have less opportunity to explore and find what they are truly passionate about in sports when their time is being more limited before recruits are looking for their next star. “In the beginning, you can play several different sports and love them all equally. It’s not until things get serious that most athletes choose just one sport” (Reference C). The sad thing is that the time when things get serious is coming sooner and sooner for athletes. Kids are being persuaded by their high school coaches to only play one sport, but there are still some like “Luther, who has 20 years of baseball coaching experience, believes high school athletes should play more than one sport, “ Without question, they become more competitive, their work ethic is a little bit better, people are tracking their grades all the time, it’s just a little bit of a better situation that they can be in a structured environment all the time” (Reference C) Luther believes that when you are entering collegiate sports “that’s when they should focus their energy on a single sport” (Reference C). Playing in more than one sport definitely has its advantages and disadvantages.
All these things changing in recruiting is causing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to create rules and regulations, mainly to protect the student-athletes from being bombarded by coaches and their recruiting methods. One rule mentioned earlier was that college coaches can not email a student-athlete until after their sophomore year in high school. This rule is a perfect example of trying to limit the amount of contact a coach is able to make with prospective athletes. Without this rule athletes could be getting hundreds of emails their sophomore, even freshman, year in high school when they may not even be sure which sport they want to play in college if they are a multisport athlete. During my recruiting process I received an email from a college coach asking if I could visit their school, I informed him that I was still a sophomore and that he was not allowed to email me. He apologized and then had to submit his rule violation to the NCAA so that they knew it had happened. Because he submitted the form in time and he did not pursue emailing me until he was allowed to nothing happened. That was a minor violation but the violations that make headlines are usually major and are hidden for multiple months or years. For example, the “University of Colorado faced charges, it used sex, alcohol and drugs to recruit high school players” (Reference E). This scandal basically destroyed the University of Colorado’s football program and its reputation. These unethical ways of recruiting is spreading to the majority of Universities, big and small. “Money seems to be the force that’s causing what is happening,” says William Friday, president-emeritus of the University of North Carolina and chair of the reformist Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.” (Reference E) Money is also a big issue during the recruiting process, some schools offering students perks that they are not allowed to supply under NCAA eligibility regulations. I have heard of many athletes becoming ineligible because they accept money or gifts from colleges, which is also breaking NCAA rules. Under NCAA regulations a student-athletes most important thing is their eligibility, if they lose it they are unable to play amateur sports, including collegiate sports. Getting your eligibility back is almost impossible and in some cases not possible at all.
Overall the recruiting process has changed drastically throughout the years. Many things have caused the changes of recruiting and the changes occurring have had an effect on a lot of rules and regulations.