Ivy League Advocates to Limit Early Recruitment Athletes
There are already strict NCAA rules about when and how a college coach can recruit and make contact with young high school athletes. Technically, student-athletes aren’t supposed to be recruited until their junior year, but of course numerous loopholes enable the process of early recruiting to persist. Thousands of student-athletes each year make unofficial verbal commitments to schools or partake in unofficial visits to college campuses, well before they are supposed to. The Ivy League is looking to change that.
In their minds, these premature recruiting tactics place undue pressure on students during their early high school years to make a life-altering decision about which school they can attend. The matter is also very specific to Ivy League schools, who are restricted from offering solely athletic scholarships to athletes. They must get approval from the academic department to admit any recruits on academic scholarships, which presents a challenge since students in early high school years have little academic results and test scores. By the end of junior year, a person’s academic standing becomes much clearer, but by then many of these students have already made their college choice a long time ago.
Interestingly, the practice is less widely used in major sports like football and basketball, where roughly 4 to 5 percent of athletes make such early verbal commitments. However, in many other sports like lacrosse, volleyball, and soccer the figure is much higher. In lacrosse over 30 percent of players commit before their junior year!
I am excited to announce I have verbally committed to play soccer with my sister for coach Kelly @ UT!!!💗🐂🤘🏼Hook em pic.twitter.com/7N8htPangd
— leximissimo (@LMissimo) July 25, 2016
Alexis Missimo, a rising eighth grader who just committed to the Longhorns five years from the start of her college freshman season. Missimo is also, probably, the youngest college-committed player in the country.
Athletically, this can pose a serious issue as well. Athletes peak at different ages, and someone who may have looked to be a sensational prospect at 14, could be well beyond their peak by 19. Similarly, many late bloomers get largely looked over as schools have already filled their rosters by the time official recruiting begins in junior year.
According to Ivy League Executive Director, Robin Harris, “high school freshmen and sophomores are not ready academically, physically or socially, to make their college choice. Our goal is to spark a conversation, and advocate for new NCAA rules to change the culture of recruiting, and to benefit the coaches, schools and most importantly, prospective student-athletes.” source
The issue becomes serious too when you consider how most non-athletes make their college decisions. Most students wait until the middle of their senior year to make the choice, when they’re more soundly prepared to understand the choice their making, and when they know what they’re looking for at the next level of education. Someone who has just begun their high school career should be focused at succeeding at that level before even thinking about college, yet today’s coaches make this a reality.
Certainly, the action taken by the Ivy League about coaches making early contact to prospective athletes pre-junior year presents an intriguing question and brings up a discussion that needs to be had. What age is appropriate for student-athletes to begin making contact with college coaches and making determinations about their future? It will be fascinating to see how the NCAA rules on this debate.