Athletic scholarships reward the hard work and skill of students and provide them with further opportunities to shine. At the core, they financially assist students who have met prerequisites and show potential for further success. However, athletic scholarships are so much more – they are the key to a better future for the student-athlete and their loved ones.
The NCAA majorly influences college sports, and several other collegiate-level sports associations exist. Like the NCAA’s three divisions, the schools in other athletic conferences usually keep similar student enrollments. They may also share a geographic region. Only NCAA D-I and D-II schools, along with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the National Junior College Athletic Association schools offer athletic scholarships.
When Can Colleges Offer Athletic Scholarships
Throughout the recruiting process, you will most likely spend a significant amount of time anticipating when you will receive a coveted offer from a college coach. So, it’s understandable to ask when a college coach would make you an offer to play for their team.
Under the guidelines and deadlines established by the particular athletic association that oversees the sport, colleges can provide athletic scholarships. Coaches in NCAA Division I and II may begin reaching out to prospective student-athletes as early as the junior year of high school. various sports and divisions may have various timelines and rules. Student-athletes must communicate with college coaches under the rules governing their particular sport.
Below we will explain how numerous criteria influence when a college coach may offer you a scholarship and how much of your tuition is covered by that scholarship.
The Offer Process At Each Division
One of the main factors that affect the offer process is the division in which the school competes. This difference is primarily driven by how competitive the recruiting process is in that division.
Division I: Division I coaches prefer players to commit early. Coaches will aim to use commitments from possible great players to entice additional top recruits to their school, so moving the recruiting process forward for elite teams. Early verbal agreements are made, followed by a written commitment on senior year signing day. Verbal commitments may be made before senior year, but it is not uncommon for various sports to continue to complete their rosters during senior year.
Division I college coaches can make offers in the second half of sophomore year and throughout junior year for sports that are exempt from the aforementioned NCAA restriction. Receiving an offer in the spring of a senior year is unusual for potential Division I student-athletes.
Division II: Division II timeframes vary based on the situation. Athletes who begin their recruiting process by looking at Division II universities are significantly more likely to receive an offer than athletes who start with Division I. These student-athletes who do not receive a Division I scholarship but successfully transfer to Division II universities are expected to receive an offer in the fall of their senior year. Because Division II uses the equivalency model, earning an offer is heavily dependent on the amount of scholarship money available.
Division III: Division III recruitment differs significantly from the upper division levels due to the lack of athletic scholarships. Division III institutions have their own admissions requirements and are not subject to NCAA recruitment regulations like the other divisions. Division III coaches continue to make verbal offers to players, but only for positions on their teams. However, there are advantages to taking a roster spot from a Division III coach. For example, the coach can guide you through the admissions and academic aid process.
What Is An Athletic Scholarship?
An athletic scholarship is an amount of financial aid awarded to a student-athlete from the college athletic department. The student’s athletic ability and ability to benefit the team are taken into consideration when awarding these athletic scholarships. The recipients of scholarships and their amounts are determined by a coach.
Types Of Athletic Scholarships
- Fully funded
- Partially funded
Some collegiate teams only offer full-ride scholarships, known as headcount sports and others offer both full and partial scholarships, known as equivalency sports. Head count sports can only offer full scholarships to a limited number of players on the team. Equivalency sports can offer full scholarships and can also divide full scholarships into partial scholarships and give athletic scholarships to more members of the team. Whether or not you could earn a full or partial athletic scholarship depends on several things: your sport, your athletic abilities, your potential at the school, and the availability of scholarship money on the team.
Sports scholarships can provide higher education to individuals who cannot afford to attend college. Students who excel in a sport can apply for sports scholarships, which allow colleges to pay for them to play the sport on campus. This is amazing for students but there are various downsides. Sometimes the scholarship can be a hindrance for the student causing them not to reach their academic potential. Sports scholarships are also rare and can be a false hope for families not able to afford college.
Finding The Right College Athletic Recruiting Service
Even though we provide all of our tools without charge, there are top-notch premium recruiting services that can significantly impact your chances of obtaining a sports scholarship. For those who find it difficult to pursue the recruitment process on their own, paying services might give their chances of receiving a college athletic scholarship a significant boost. Paid services are not problematic for us. There is a significant distinction between a full-service recruiting network and free do-it-yourself resources, and we collaborate with the top paid recruiting businesses on our platform.
Many athletes fail to reach their objective of participating in college because they do not grasp how the recruitment process operates. Here are five strategies to keep on track for an athletic scholarship.
Step 1: Understand what Division level best matches your skill set, then start researching colleges
One of the most difficult aspects of the recruitment process is determining which division level is ideal for you. NCAA Division I athletics aren’t for everyone; in fact, only a handful of athletes play for D-I schools! To further understand where you stand, get evaluated by a third party or attend camps with other college-bound players to see how you stack up.
After you’ve gained a better knowledge of the division levels that are appropriate for you, begin researching colleges that interest you. Organizations such as the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) usually recommend creating an initial list of roughly fifty schools, which you will cut down throughout the recruiting process. When making your college list, take into account a school’s location, academics, athletics, and culture.
Step 2: Gather all the information you need
Before you start reaching out to college coaches, compile the following information into an athletic resume:
- Highlight or skills video (if one is required for your sport)
- Athletic stats
- Academic transcripts
- ACT scores, SAT scores, (or both!), if you’ve taken them
From there, you’ll need to study and compile the phone numbers and email addresses of the head coaches, assistant coaches, and recruiting coordinators from your initial list of best-fit colleges. During this stage of the hiring process, examine all of your social media profiles to ensure that there is no incorrect content. Coaches (not to mention admissions officers) will review all of your social media!
Step 3: Start communicating with college coaches
NSCA recommends beginning your outreach by emailing coaches. Remember: Coaches get hundreds of emails each week, so yours needs to stand out to get their attention:
- Make sure your email includes all the information in your athletic resume, especially a link to your highlight and/or skills video. This way, the coach can conduct an initial evaluation by watching your film.
- Your subject line should have your name, your position, your current grade level, and a key stat, for example, “John Doe, High School Sophomore, Pitcher, 90 MPH fastball.”
- Avoid creating a mass email including every coach’s contact information on it. Instead, individually craft each email and, if possible, specifically state why you’re interested in that program.
After about two weeks, call the coach and express your interest in their program. Avoid sending a mass email with every coach’s contact information. Instead, personally craft each email and, if possible, specify why you’re interested in that program. Make a plan so you know what to say if the coach answers the phone—or if you’re directed to their voicemail. Some student-athletes prefer to write a screenplay and work from it. As you prepare, look out for some crucial details about the school, the team’s previous season, and why you’re interested in the program.
Step 4: Manage your college recruiting process
As you reach out and create relationships with coaches at other institutions, you should do a few critical things to keep your recruiting process moving forward:
- Keep checking your eligibility. To participate in college, you must meet many specified standards. Visit the NCAA Eligibility Center to double-check the standards and confirm you’re on track to compete at an NCAA university. Similarly, follow the steps described by the NAIA Eligibility Center to determine whether you are academically eligible to compete at the NAIA level.
- Attend camps and combines. Attending camps in some sports is an excellent chance to compete in front of coaches from colleges you’re interested in. Many of these will be “pay to play” camps, so choose camps at schools that are actively recruiting you. Attend combines to obtain verifiable, sport-specific stats to submit on your recruiting résumé.
- Attend on-campus visits. Visiting a campus in person is the greatest method to determine whether a school is right for you. Before your visit, contact the coach at that institution to schedule a meeting. An important aspect of campus visits is gaining an in-person meeting with the coach, which can potentially lead to an offer.
- Send coaches an updated video and statistics. Throughout this maintenance time, keep in touch with college coaches. An excellent reason to email a coach? If you have an updated highlight film and new athletic or academic statistics.
Step 5: Evaluate your athletic scholarship offers
By this point in the recruitment process, you’re ready to accept your offer and negotiate your scholarship amount. To get the best offer, examine the financial aid packages available at each of the institutions that have made you an offer. If a program lacks the funds to grant a large athletic scholarship, the school will frequently strive to make up the difference through merit-based, academic, or other sorts of scholarships. Make sure you don’t overlook different forms of scholarships while making your ultimate pick.
Keep in mind that the recruiting process is unique to each student-athlete. If you require personal assistance from a recruiting professional, Next Collegiate Student Athlete (NCSA), a collegiate athlete recruitment network, may help. The NCSA staff, which includes over 600 former college athletes and coaches, has been through this process hundreds of times and has numerous secret insights for assisting athletes in finding their best college match.
The Need to keep your grades up to meet athletic scholarship requirements
The NCAA requires Division I student-athletes to complete at least six hours of credits each term and have 40 percent of their degree completed by the end of their second year. They must also maintain a minimum GPA as set by the school’s graduation requirements. Division II athletes must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA.
At many schools, if these athletic scholarship requirements are not met, a player will be ineligible to play until they are. Failure to meet the academic expectations for the entire year can result in removal from the team and being placed on university academic probation or even disqualification in extreme circumstances.
Many universities offer free tutoring and academic help for all students, so talk with your coach, professor, or academic adviser as soon as you begin to struggle. It is important not to wait too long to ask for help since it can be harder to bounce back from a failing grade.
Conclusively, for many student-athletes, winning an athletic scholarship to participate at the collegiate level is the ultimate aim. On the other hand, there are several myths regarding the nature of scholarship offers and the real amount of funding that student-athletes get.
One of the most important things to know about the college recruiting process is the timeline. You’ll want to be aware of critical dates and the overall format of the recruiting process so you can be prepared for the next step of your recruiting journey. Particularly, you’ll want to be aware of when college coaches stop recruiting for your class so you don’t miss out on earning an athletic scholarship.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are full-ride scholarships for all 4 years?
No, although some are multi-year contracts, full-ride athletic scholarships are normally one-year agreements between the athlete and the college.
2. Who gives the Athletic Scholarship out?
Athletic scholarships are offered at the NCAA D1 and D2 levels, as well as at the NAIA and NJCAA levels—combined, that’s thousands of schools.
3. What does an Athletic Scholarship cover?
Athletic scholarships cover a portion of the costs for tuition and fees, course-related books, room, board, and, sometimes, living expenses. The amount covered is dependent on whether the offer is a full or partial scholarship.