The Scholarship Chase Chapter 6

Click below to explore other chapters in this series.

CHAPTER 1 - CHAPTER 2 - CHAPTER 3 - CHAPTER 4 - CHAPTER 5

Point/Counterpoint Pt. 2

This blog comprises the second half of our Point/Counterpoint discussion on the issues covered in this series. The first half can be seen in Chapter 5, available by clicking the links above.

Argument No. 4: The increased grind and unforgiving travel schedule related to early recruiting is far too much for coaches and their staffs to handle.

POINT: Currently, a coach is often compelled to offer a scholarship early based on pressure by prospects (mostly their parents). If they don’t, the prospect may believe the coach is disinterested and move on. As a result, with showcases for middle schoolers and freshmen/sophomores nearly every weekend, coaches do not have time to spend with their current team, let alone their families.

“This has always been a huge part of our job, but now it’s become 24/7” Michigan’s Carol Hutchins, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I softball history, told espnW. “I’m busier in the fall than I am in the spring.” Of course, the same thing goes for collegiate volleyball coaches, but in opposite seasons!

And Matthew Baysinger, [a former] senior captain of the University of Kansas track team and the [former] vice chair of the NCAA’s Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, says, “I feel a lot worse for the coaches than I do for the student-athletes. I actually thought at one point in my life I’d want to do coaching, but after seeing what they have to do to get these athletes, I don’t want anything to do with that” (Sander, 2008).

COUNTERPOINT: “Is it taxing?” Rosenthal asks referring to the grind of recruiting in collegiate coaching. “Yes, 100 percent. But I am of the mindset that I get to coach collegiate volleyball and be a part of young women’s lives, and not just 18 to 22, because I firmly believe this is way more than just four years. And so, for my wife, and myself we have made some family decisions to say there are going to be some sacrifices, just like any other job. But I am free to get out of this any time I want. Ultimately, you have a group of highly competitive people (coaches)––A type personalities. And I am not a not a fan of somebody telling me what I am capable of doing. [It should be] me setting that tone and if I want something, I go after it. Ultimately, there is always another player, always another tournament, always another city to be in.

“What I have learned over the years is we have looked really to invest our time in a smaller number of [recruits] and work that route. So instead of a mass approach, where I’m casting a huge net, we’ve really tried to be deliberate and conscientious with [our time].”

Argument No. 5: Is it worthwhile to recruit a player early and then when he/she arrives at the institution to play volleyball, sits the bench or perhaps doesn’t even qualify academically to attend?

POINT: Hambly, who recently took the head coaching job at Stanford, is actually quite happy with the culture of the school’s athletics department and its stance on early recruiting. At Stanford, coaches cannot evaluate prospects’ transcripts until the students are juniors in high school. And the admissions procedures are strict at Stanford, so that rule is never breached. Period.

“[At Stanford], we are essentially asking kids to wait because we have to,” Hambly explains. “We can’t even really evaluate their transcripts until they are juniors. [Instead], we have to recruit kids to commit to the process of trying to get into Stanford and that’s it. We can’t even offer them a scholarship until they have committed to that process and things are moving. That was one of the main things that attracted me to Stanford. I don’t feel like I have to dive into early recruiting because we flat out can’t. I feel like I was getting dragged into it at Illinois and I didn’t want that.”

And, by the time Hambly is able to recruit, the players will more or less know their position in the pecking order of the team right away.

Anson Dorrance, the storied women’s soccer coach at the University of North Carolina (22 national championships since 1981 and 33 players who have competed in the Olympic Games), told The New York Times (Popper, 2014), that his biggest complaint is that he is compelled to make early offers to high school players who simply do not pan out when it comes time to matriculate.

“If you can’t make a decision on one or two looks, they go to your competitor, and they make an offer,” Dorrance told The New York Times. “You are under this huge pressure to make a scholarship offer on their first visit.”

Of course, the result is then a burgeoning number of student-athletes who come to play at the school and end up riding the pine.

“It’s killing the kids that go places and don’t play,” he said. “It’s killing the schools that have all the scholarships tied up in kids who can’t play at their level” (Popper).

COUNTERPOINT: According to Rosenthal, in this situation, patience is the key. If a coach has to wait for a recruit to make a decision, then so be it. “That is life. If I am recruiting for one position, I would like to work with maybe three to five players,” Rosenthal explains. “I don’t need a list of 20, because ultimately, I want No. 1. And if, for whatever reason, No. 1 doesn’t happen, No. 2 is who I want. If I have to get to No. 20, I’ve go some other things that I really need to work on as far as just being realistic and understanding who we are [at Lipscomb].”

Argument No. 6: With the current NCAA legislation and the loopholes that players and coaches have found in terms of communication before the junior year, club directors and coaches, as well as high school coaches, are now in charge of these kids’ futures.

POINT: “One part that is frustrating, I know, for a lot of coaches is you can’t communicate directly with the athletes. It is really a lot harder to get to the players, and that is what we are actually trying to do is just get to the players,” Hambly admits. “We have a good relationship with club directors and coaches, but it is all filtered through them” instead of the coaches being able to work directly with the athletes.

“In the two decades that Deb Patterson has been a basketball coach there is one thing that stands out from all others in recruiting: expectations. And sometimes, she says, it makes her wonder who, exactly, is in charge. ‘It’s not the coach walking into the gym saying, “Prove to me you can play.” It’s the prospect saying, “Why weren’t you there?” says Patterson, [the director of women’s basketball operations at the University of Northern Colorado]. “So much of what college coaches do now is in response to the expectations of the prospect or the prospect’s coaches or handlers. That’s a big flip from 15 years ago” (Sander, 2008).

The question remains, then, is the club trying to pad its numbers of players recruited to Power Five schools, or are they really helping the student-athletes find a good fit?

COUNTERPOINT: At this point, Rosenthal is in agreement with Hambly, in that the club directors now play such an integral role in the process. He states, “I think in an age of communication, I am a little nervous about the direction that we are going in with the early recruiting in the sense that club coaches, club owners, and club recruiting directors become these kids’ handlers. And so, if we want to communicate with said recruits, we are really stuck in a position where we are at the mercy of those people, who have a lot of influence. Don’t get me wrong––there are some very good club directors out there.” However, that is why he thinks the lines of communication should be open and coaches should legally be able to contact players earlier (as freshmen or sophomores). “They are interested in your program, they are paying the way [to visit your campus], they are spending their time and want information from the people that they will work with directly. They can talk to admissions or go talk to a chemistry teacher, but they can’t talk to the volleyball coach?”

Conclusion

To be sure, especially via a Point/Counterpoint debate, there is no right or wrong answer to the myriad questions posed by early recruiting. As mentioned in the previous blog, the conversation definitely has begun. No matter which side you fall on, the focus has to remain with the student-athlete and what is in his/her best interest.

Of course, when the process of early recruiting works, everyone is happy. When it doesn’t, outrage is the result. And according to Mick Haley, head women’s volleyball coach at USC, “If you’re a top young player and you get to choose from [schools ranked] 20 to 1 which university you want to go to, how is that a lose for you? That’s a great thing for you. Where it breaks down is from 20 to 200” (Fader, 2016).

Indeed.

Works Cited

DiFiori, John P., Holly J. Benjamin, Joel S. Brenner, Andrew Gregory, Neeru Jayanthi, Greg L. Landry, and Anthony Luke. "Overuse Injuries and Burnout in Youth Sports: A Position Statement from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine." Br J Sports Med. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine, 01 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2017. <http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/48/4/287.short>.

Fader, Mirin. "The Impact of Early Recruiting on Players and Coaches." ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 12 May 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2017. <http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/15509558/the-impact-early-recruiting-players-coaches>.

(JOE), The Journal of Extension. Point Counterpoint––A Method for Teaching Critical Thinking. Extension Journal, Aug. 1995. Web. 10 Apr. 2017. <https://www.joe.org/joe/1995august/iw2.php>.

Popper, Nathaniel. "Committing to Play for a College, Then Starting 9th Grade." The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Jan. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/sports/committing-to-play-for-a-college-then-starting-9th-grade.html?_r=0>.

Sander, Libby. "For Coaches, a Race With No Finish Line." The Chronicle of Higher Education. N.p., 09 May 2008. Web. 11 Apr. 2017. <http://www.chronicle.com/article/For-Coaches-a-Race-With-No/35721>.

Alfred C. Yen, Early Scholarship Offers and the NCAA, 52, B.C.L. Rev. 585 (2011), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol52/iss2/8.

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