Lacrosse Recruiting: “Four Key Tips In Navigating Ivy And D3 College Recruiting” By Tom Kovic

Four Key Tips in Navigating Ivy and D3 College Recruiting

As a former Ivy League head coach, I was blessed with a successful career and many fond memories. Considering the selectivity in admissions and the high price tag of an Ivy League institution, my recruiting yields were consistently strong and I learned valuable lessons about prospects and the potential benefits they can receive in the admissions process.

Ivy League and D-3 college coaches are unable to offer athletic scholarships to prospects, but they can significantly influence the admissions process that can lend strong support to prospective student-athletes. That aside, it is important that prospects, families and high school advisors clearly understand the nuts and bolts of this process and make every effort to grow honest and strong working relationships with college coaches.

Admissions Index In many cases, academic select colleges use an “Admissions Index” that objectively analyzes a student’s academic qualifications. The AI is simply determined by combining core grade point average with standardized tests results (SAT I, SAT II, ACT).

A perfect Admissions Index would reflect impeccable scores on standardized tests and a top class rank at a prestigious high school with brilliant academic credentials. The lowest Admissions Index (The Floor) that is acceptable in Ivy League and D-3 Admissions will vary, depending on the school, division and conference).

Banding Typically, college sports program will be awarded an arbitrary number of “admissions support slots” to be used by the coaches to support athletic candidates. More popular sports tend to receive more “select” admission slots and in many cases, athletic directors will “tier” sports depending on the popularity and the level of success the team earns at the conference, regional and national level.

Athletic departments are encouraged to maintain an average student-athlete admissions yield that is no less than one standard deviation below the average AI for regularly admitted students. Many colleges have developed a system that subdivides the broader AI range into “bands” to assist coaches in recruiting prospects that potentially fall within coach’s allotment of support for any given recruiting cycle.

The number of admission slots coaches are allotted varies from sport to sport and college to college and based on the level of support, a coach’s recruiting strategy will be well-planned, systematic and precise. In addition, coaches are well aware that certain prospects will not be admitted, despite their level of athleticism if they are not up to the academic challenge at the institution.

Admissions Pre-Reads An admissions pre-read can provide prospects with a fairly accurate AI and a clearer idea of their chances in admissions. Coach will need a copy of your high school profile, transcripts and test results from the SAT and/or ACT. Following an early read, a good college coach will advise the prospect clearly to his chances in admissions and if the recruiting process should advance. Turnaround time for a pre-read is about 2 weeks and this information will help avoid “spinning of wheels” for the family, prospect and the college coach, especially if admission seems unlikely.

Likely Letters Likely letters are “near guarantees” of admission that can be sent to prospective student-athletes well before the regular population of applicants are read. The “likely” is a tremendous tool for college coaches who are competing with scholarship institutions for the same prospect, or “overlap” prospects who are applying to other Ivy League or D-3 institutions. Likely letters are limited to certain institutions, originate from the admissions office and offer families near-assurance and confidence that, barring any unusual circumstances, the prospect will be admitted.

Academic select institutions will admit a limited number of student-athletes who bring strong qualities that are identified as “important” to the admissions table. It is fair to point out that athletes, although identified as having a special talent, will be treated as any other candidate and will be admitted only if the applicants AI is in an acceptable range and they are capable of succeeding academically. That being said, talented student-athletes who offer solid academic credentials and have the ability to strongly impact an athletics program may be considered very favorably in Ivy League and D-3 college admissions.

Tom Kovic is a former 19-year head coach at the University of Pennsylvania and the current President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families throughout the college recruiting process. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence, an educational guide for college athletics recruiting”. For further information, visit:

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