Tag Archives: Victory Collegiate Consulting

“The Changing Climate Of College Recruiting” By Tom Kovic Of Victory Collegiate Consulting

The changing climate of college recruiting

By Tom Kovic

College athletics has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and coaches are under tremendous pressure to achieve two important goals: 1) Win and 2) Drive program revenue upward. The one directly affects the other. Alumni will enthusiastically support a winning team, but the opposite is also true. The changing climate of college athletics has had direct impact on the recruitment of prospective student-athletes and with that, a dramatic shift in organizing and managing student-athlete strategies in registering early and effectively on the radar of college coaches.

Recruitment is essential for college coaches to maximize future team advancement. This is achieved through active cultivation of strong relationships with high school and club coaches, prospects and their families. College coaches use many recruiting tools at their disposal, while abiding by strict NCAA rules and regulations.

Twenty years ago, the majority of prospective student-athletes were simply “found” and the volume of identifiable athletes was very manageable. Nowadays and with the surge of private sport clubs, the college recruiting arena has grown to gothic proportions and with increased competitiveness.

Decades ago, college prospects could comfortably launch their recruiting effort during the junior year in high school. Now, and especially with the increased popularity of verbal offers of athletic scholarships and admission to select, non-scholarship college options, prospects need to kick start the recruiting process as early as the ninth grade.

Fast Forward
A good college coach will offer truthful and honest information regarding the university and the chances the prospect has as a potential team member and a scholarship athlete. He will work diligently to avoid gray areas, especially where it involves athletic scholarship and, in the case of non-scholarship schools, the prospects chances in Admissions. Through the use of skillful contacts, the college coach will attempt to cultivate a relationship that will hopefully result in matching a prospect with his or her institution in a mutually benefiting experience.

Likewise, a productive family effort will be well-planned and impeccably executed. It will involve a team approach that should consist of the following players: parents, prospect, high school/club coach, college advisor, guidance counselor and personal mentor. Each team player will have a specific role to play in order to ensure the prospect’s best chance in navigating the college search with success.

Advance goals should be set with clarity, purpose, and assist in the organizational structure of the recruiting process. The well-prepared approach will, in the end, have the best chance of achieving success.

The Verbal Offer
The verbal commitment is one where a Coach and a prospect agree there is a proper and mutual fit scholastically and athletically with the prospect and the institution. In many cases, there is an offer of athletic aid (scholarship), or in some cases, support by the Coach in admissions. The verbal commitment is a “gentleman’s agreement.” An old fashion handshake where both party’s offer their word to remain committed through either the signing of The National Letter of Intent or offer of admissions.

The verbal offer is “open ended” and a common question that prospects and parents have is “Can we back out of the agreement?” And the answer is yes. That said it is important to realize the flip side of the coin and although it is less likely, college coaches can back out of a verbal commitment, especially if the prospect shows a lack of progress on the field or in the classroom.

Tactical Approach
A knowledgeable consumer will have a clear edge over the general population in the pursuit of the attainment of any worthy product. I believe that the same holds true in the college search and that it is the obligation of the family to make every effort to make a commitment to accumulate pertinent information regarding this process and to execute well-designed plans.

Information is critical to the successful organization of any worthy project. Building a college recruiting information base can begin as early as the middle school years as a family hobby and increasingly grow into a highly organized, disciplined project by the beginning of the sophomore year in high school.

Begin by gathering information on potential college choices, including team and coach profiles, statistics, ranking, and academic standards. Continue to update and maintain selected e-files on your favorite college programs.

The college search for athletes has radically transformed during the past 20 years to a level where prospects need to maintain an accelerated pace with college coaches. It is a process that begins much earlier than most families realize and therefore a proactive approach to organizing early for the college search becomes essential in reaching your college goals.

College recruiting is both exciting and daunting. It requires a disciplined and yet flexible approach, especially when timelines get tight and situations become challenging. Active and regular communication is vital and the successful prospect will build mutually strong and respectful relationships with college coaches in an effort to identify and secure the ideal college match.

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and the current director of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families in navigating the college recruiting process. For further information visit:  www.victoryrecruiting.com.

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “5 Essential Steps For College Recruits” By Tom Kovic

5 Essential Steps for College Recruits

By Tom Kovic

If you’re an athlete being recruited by colleges, the process can be stressful and choosing the right school can be difficult. Not only do you have to like the school, but the school has to like you. It may sound simple, but finding the perfect situation can be elusive. Luckily, there are ways to reduce the stress and increase the ease of the recruiting process. Here are 5 essential recruiting steps to help you with your college search.

1. Determine Potential Fits

Everyone has an idea of his or her perfect college experience. Identifying what you’re looking for in a school should be one of your first steps. Self-awareness is a powerful tool, and determining what most appeals to you about the college experience is critically important. Meet with your family to list your criteria—e.g., academic strength, level of athleticism, geographic location, size of undergraduate population. This will help you create your initial college list.

Research a small but equal number of D-I, II and III colleges and their sports programs. Read about each team’s level of success and dig into a few player profiles to evaluate their level of skill and athleticism. Take into account the school’s conference and the strength of their schedule. Finding the right class of competition for your skill level will lead to a more fulfilling college experience.

2. Identify Your Position of Strength

Do you want to use your strength as an athlete to gain an athletic scholarship, or do you want to leverage your athletic ability to get accepted to an academically select institution?

Just over 25 percent of college athletes qualify for athletic scholarships, and the competition is fierce. College coaches use simple strategies when recruiting prospects, and scholarship athletes are typically immediate impact, blue-chip players.

Coaches from certain conferences or divisions (such as the Ivy League) use slightly different formulas for rating potential prospects. The evaluation begins in the classroom, not on the field. Those schools seek academic information (such as transcripts, high school profiles and standardized test scores) to help them compute a rough “admissions index.” Once prospects pass this hurdle, coaches aggressively begin their athletic evaluation.

RELATED: Increase Your Value as a College Recruit

3. Know the NCAA Rules and Procedures

Understand and embrace the NCAA’s recruiting rules. Visit the NCAA Resources page to preview the recruiting manuals for each division and devote time to the chapters on recruiting, eligibility and financial aid.


Your high school athletic director can provide you with an easy-to-understand, scaled-down version of the NCAA rules. He or she should also have experience working with former high school athletes who went on to play in college, so feel free to lean on your AD as a resource for information and insight.

RELATED: 8 Ways NCAA Recruiting Rules Have Changed

4. See the Big Picture

Your athletic career is only one part of a broader collegiate experience. It’s important to look beyond athletics when assessing schools that can prepare you for your professional field of interest.

Some “non-athletic-scholarship schools” can, in many cases, still offer significant financial assistance. It’s important for you, your family and your high school advisors to clearly understand the role of the college coach in this process and make every effort to develop a sincere and strong working relationship with him or her.

5. Communicate

Once you identify the colleges you are interested in, make an effort to communicate with the right people as early as possible. College coaches have clear restrictions to when and where they may contact recruits and their families, but you and your family may call or email a coach early in the recruiting process, with very few exceptions.

Sending a letter of introduction accompanied by a profile is a great way to begin, but it’s important to follow up regularly with significant updates that have “grip,” such as competition results, statistics and academic updates. If you practice “proactive persistence” with respect, you can a grab a college coach’s attention.

Learn more about how to maximize your communication with college coaches.


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: www.victoryrecruiting.com.

Lacrosse Recruiting: “Three Key Tips To Maximizing College Recruiting Interviews” By Tom Kovic, Victory Collegiate Consulting

I think we can all agree that there will be a laundry list of tasks on the college recruiting checklist that require attention. Face to face meetings with college coaches are important firstly, as a means of creating a stronger interpersonal connection between prospect and coach and secondly, as an opportunity for both sides to simply size each other up. This article offers three key tips that prospects and families can use to maximize on-campus interviews with college coaches.

The college search for athletes is a journey, and in many cases a long one that will hopefully and ultimately provide a college destination that matches well with the prospect. That being the case, maintaining a “hands on and self-guided” approach each step of the way will serve you best in maintaining strong momentum and build strong relationships with college coaches.

Prospects that have the opportunity to meet face to face with college coaches will soon realize the significance in this milestone and dedicate themselves to prepare best for the meeting. My suggestion is to maintain a simple yet highly organized approach to your interviews and get the best bang for your buck.

First Impression They say you only get one opportunity to make a first impression and your “conduct” during the college recruiting process is no exception to this rule. The manner in which you present yourself to coach will be well-remembered. Dress casually, but nicely. Look sharp and you will feel sharp and coach will know it. Avoid wearing jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt. Opt for a pair of khakis, a collared shirt and a pair of nice, casual shoes.

During initial contact between families and coaches, moms and dads are typically the ones who greet coach first and the prospect is located somewhere in the shadows. Change the strategy and set the tone of the meeting in a manner that will make a lasting impression with coach. I always encourage prospects to be the first to greet coach with a confident and firm handshake. Thank coach for making time for you and your family to meet and then introduce your mom and dad. This not only demonstrates self-reliance and confidence, it shows respect and coach will love it.

The “Pitch” After you sit down and talk casually for about 5 minutes during the “warm-up” period, coaches will usually begin “the pitch.” The pitch is a classic attempt by the college coach to re-cap the nuts and bolts of the program and trust me, they are absolute masters.

They will discuss everything from policies and procedures of their program, expectations they have for every member of the team, mandatory academic programs (study hall etc.) to recruiting goals and the type and number of players they are looking to bring to the program.

This portion of the meeting is a great way for families to gather information specific to the university you are visiting and the coach and program you are considering. Be a sponge and take it all in, but try to also be an equal partner in the discussion and have a short list of questions you want to ask coach.

Maintain eye contact and upright posture with coach during the entire meeting. This validates your interest in the program and gives coach every reason to believe you want to be there! You want to leave the meeting well-informed, but you also want to leave a positive impression on coach.

Close it out The meetings with each individual coach will vary in time and content but the one common thread that will run from one meeting to the next is “information.” The ultimate aim should be for both parties’s to walk away wanting to take the next step.

The depth of impression you make with college coaches will be directly proportional to your level of preparation to present yourself favorably. That said you can push that impression deeper, by closing out a positive and constructive discussion with great effect.

Thank coach again for meeting with you and your family and let him know that your interest in his institution has ratcheted even higher. Convey your desire to provide him with any significant updates (athletic, academic and otherwise), that can help him evaluate you in the best light.

The prospect and family who envision on-campus meetings with college coaches as a pivotal stepping stone in the college search will provide themselves the best opportunity to build momentum in the recruiting process. Be polite, but bold in your effort to make a positive first impression with coach and set the tone of the meeting. Pay close attention to coach’s “pitch” of his program and look for openings to volley your questions. Leave the meeting on a high note and create positive closure to an important recruiting event that will lead to future growth between you and coach.

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he advises prospects and families on college recruiting. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence” An educational guide for college athletics recruiting. For further information visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com.

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “When Your College Recruiting Strategy Hits A Wall, Learn To Pivot”

When Your College Recruiting Strategy Hits a Wall, Learn to Pivot

By Tom Kovic
The college search for athletes is an individual and tactical quest that will play out differently across the board. If you happen to be that 5 star prospect that every college coach has his eye on, your biggest challenge will most likely be which college to choose! But if you are among the majority of prospects that are lumped into the next level of recruits, your college journey will be a little more challenging.
This article focuses on helping families realize that the recruiting process is not always a straight run with the prize waiting for you at the end of the process. Conversely, you will run into resistance, difficult and frustrating circumstances and the family who can identify potential pitfalls and learn to pivot in advance of hitting rough patches in the journey, will weather the college search storms with greater success.   “Pivot” as it pertains to the college recruiting process, is the ability to maneuver proactively and shift personal strategy, based on careful analysis of individual college coach’s progress toward reaching their recruiting quota. Every college coach is different in personality and his approach to recruiting. Deciphering the feedback you receive from college coaches and determining where you potentially stand as a prospect is crucial when adjusting your game plan. If you are experiencing any of the following, you may consider making a pivot to your recruiting effort:
  • Sensing negative feedback or a lack of interest from coaches.
  • Falling short of coach expectation (academically, athletically etc.).
  • Incurring significant injury.
  • Scholarships, roster spots and admissions support for your recruiting class have exhausted.
Focus your effort
If you can effectively filter college coach feedback and streamline your approach to the recruiting process, you will invite less opportunity for error. Focus your effort and maintain positive momentum during every stage of the college search and pay close attention to feedback you receive from the coaches. Dedicate yourself to an untenable code in executing your plan and you will position yourself best on the radar screen of the coaches. Get your “team” on board and regularly evaluate your plan and look for potential hurdles on the horizon. If your gut tells you there needs to be a change to your plan…Be decisive.
Always keep your eye on your ultimate goal and “A list” schools, but remain closely connected to your B list back-ups. You will not be settling for less in your effort, but only preparing for the smart play (if needed) as part of a bigger process. There is an obvious risk in putting all of your eggs in one basket and this not a recommended strategy for any prospective student-athlete and family. Remain fluid in your college recruiting approach, embrace every minor shift to the original plan and remember that “momentum” is your driving force.
Vision is the act or power of imagination and it will become an emerging tool that will help you identify “unmissable opportunities” as you navigate the college search. The family that remains devoted to developing a strong and complete recruiting knowledge base coupled with a well-defined and impeccably executed plan will turn the power of imagination into tangible results.
The decision to shift direction in any endeavor can be frustrating and daunting, but don’t be afraid to embrace change as part of your college recruiting arsenal. Considering the high stakes in what has become a tremendously competitive theatre, the best laid plans that are followed-up with relentless execution may not guarantee the ultimate brass ring, but it will position you best to build continuous momentum.
Maintaining a fluid approach to your plan of action with the regular ability to identify approaching potential shortfalls and having the courage to pivot in your game plan will open up alternative opportunities and hopefully to that end, finding the right college choice.
Tom Kovic President 
Victory Collegiate Consulting

Lacrosse Recruiting: “4 Key Recruiting Tools in the College Search for Athletes” By Tom Kovic

4 Key Recruiting Tools in the College Search for Athletes
By Tom Kovic
Education is Power
Gathering information is critical to the successful organization of any worthy project. Building a college recruiting information base can begin as early as middle school and as a fun family hobby. This effort should increasingly grow into a highly organized, disciplined project by the end of the junior year in high school.
Begin by gathering information on the potential colleges of choice, including team and coach profiles, statistics, ranking, and academic options. Continue to update and maintain individual e-files on your favorite college programs.
Make a commitment to understand and embrace the NCAA recruiting rules. This will help you identify the rules of the game that will streamline your planning and organizing into a simpler and more effective format. Click here to preview the Division 1, 2 and 3 recruiting manuals.

Simplistic Organization
The following information should be stored in individual college program folders:

-Updated contact information for coach, assistant coach, financial aid representative etc. Include name, address, e-mail, phone number etc.).

-Materials the coach has sent (brochures, articles, etc.).

-Team competition schedule. You should add important events to your calendar and stay updated with the team’s accomplishments in preparation for future correspondences with the coaches.

-College catalogs, applications and/or other marketing materials

-Updated notes you gathered during the “exploratory stage” of your college quest, along with any communication and meetings you encountered with coaches from each institution.

-A list of pertinent questions or follow-up items you need to address for each program of interest.

 need it.

Time-lines and Targets

Develop timelines that will zero in on general events in the beginning of the college search (making unofficial visits, maintaining your data base, and attending tournaments) and continue to move forward with more specific events (compiling a video and player profile, communicating with coaches, and making official visits, etc.) as your search progresses. This will increase your chances of “hitting targets” throughout the process. Below is an example target list:

  1. Identify general components (academic, athletic and social) that would define a perfect college fit and develop a list of top 10-20 schools in rank order.
  2. Create a coach contact sheet to include college websites, and coach’s name, e-mail and phone.
  3. Develop your personal recruiting team.
  4. Build a personal profile.
  5. Identify an organization system (hard files, electronic files, phone records, email records etc.).
  6. Practice calls to coaches
  7. Create a YouTube account
  8. Target college visits dates.
  9. E-mail coaches with general letter of interest.
Copies of all the information you have provided to the school (admissions application, the data sheet you filled in for the coach, the most recent resume you provided etc. By keeping these copies handy, you can easily reproduce them when you need it.

Key Resource
Forming a trustworthy group of individuals who play specific roles during the recruiting cycle will increase your chances of reaching pre-determined goals.
 Suggested Team Players:
* Prospect
* Parents
* HS coach
* Club Coach
* Guidance counselor/College advisor
* Personal mentor/advisor
Identify one team member who will run the offense and assign additional team members with responsibility areas. Avoid “overlap “of duties and encourage regular communication to ensure everyone advances together and on the same page.

Maintain a simplistic and diligent approach to the college recruiting process and you will keep your finger on the pulse of each project that will push your effort forward with clarity and success. A well-executed recruiting plan with attention to detail will serve families best as they embark on an important life decision.


College Lacrosse Recruiting: “Networking Tools That Advance The College Search For Prospective College Athletes” By Tom Kovic

Networking Tools that Advance the College Search for Prospective College Athletes

By Tom Kovic

The college search for athletes is a marathon, not a sprint and the recruiting process can, at times, be exhilarating and uplifting, especially when your personal plan is working on all cylinders. That said, even the best executed plans can run into roadblocks or even stall completely.

A successful recruiting effort will shore up as many “impact tools” in the team arsenal to get the attention of college coaches. That arsenal may consist of raw athletic talent, academic brilliance or a strong core character and this article focuses on using your inner network as an indirect, yet impactful addition to your recruiting tool kit to help elevate your position on the radar screen of the college coaches.

Networking Defined

Networking in the college search for athletes can simply be defined as “a coordinated and well-planned attempt to use outside assistance in effectively accelerating and influencing the chances of reaching one’s college goal.” If the prospect and family want to register high on the radar screen of a college coach, their networking plan needs 1) to be well timed and substantial and 2) It should originate from an outside source (club or high school coach etc.). If the aim is to increase a prospects chances in admissions or maximizing a financial aid package, current alumni or those with direct inside connections with college administrators can possibly facilitate the effort.

Regardless of the tactic or individuals you plan to enlist, one key element to successful networking is to keep the lines of communication open with the college coach and keep him in the loop with your strategy every step of the way.


Networking Strategy

If you happen to be (and there is a good chance you are) in a college coach’s active “B” recruiting file, you need to make a dedicated effort to rise above the other guys in the pack. Count on a large percentage of prospects that will directly compete with you in that grouping and the effort you demonstrate to go “above and beyond the rest” can make the difference between a marginal attempt and a productive emerging plan.

Networking, when well planned and executed flawlessly, can create a big boost to your college quest and help you break away from the rest of the pack. Make every attempt to use networking as a tactic that compliments your current recruiting effort without jeopardizing your progress. It is important to be sure to keep the college coach in the loop every step of the way with those people who will be supporting your effort.
Examples of Networking Team Members and Roles

The key to coordinating a worthy networking plan is to first identify those individuals who plan to speak on your behalf. Below is an example of networking team members to consider:

  • Club or high school coaches: Will have direct communication with the college coaches to speak specifically about your skill as an athlete and your strength of character.
  • College advisor: Works indirectly with admissions, but especially with select institutions where admissions is competitive, your counselor can possibly reach out to the regional admissions representative.
  • College Alumni: In many cases, alumni have a strong, vested interest in a college program and can speak strongly on your behalf.

These are just examples of some impact players who can potentially and significantly strengthen your case. Whether the connection is athletic, academic or in the area of alumni relations, the trick here is to plan all communications to compliment your current recruiting effort in a seamless manner.

Timing and Content

Communicating with college coaches is one thing. Offering them information that has “grip” is communicating on an altogether higher level and this is where your networking tactics can strongly come into play.

Your club and/or high school coach can have direct impact on how a college coach views you and these are key players you want in your corner. In the final analysis, college coaches are looking at 3 core qualities when evaluating a prospect: Strong academic tendencies, impact athletes and strength of character. If there is one person who can speak specifically to these 3 qualities, it is your current coach.

Remember, the college search is a marathon, not a sprint and your coach’s timing in connecting with the college coach is crucial. College coaches like information short, sweet and to the point. A good club or high school coach will have fresh information to deliver in a concise manner that builds strongly upon your college recruiting resume. For instance, if you have a major tournament or event that is fast approaching, your coach should initiate contact with the college coach closer to the event in an effort to not only speak highly on your behalf, but offer coach the chance to evaluate you at the tournament.

In the final analysis, all college prospects deserve every opportunity to reach their personal goal. That being said, each plan should be grounded and realistic in its approach. If plan “A” falls short, plan “B” is ready to be executed on a moment’s notice.

College coaches employ a very simple system to determine those prospects on the recruit priority list that will ultimately receive their support. Families and athletes can influence these decisions to a degree, but they will be required to step up to the plate and swing and make every effort to control that part of the playing field. Identifying individuals who can successfully speak on your behalf and network productively with the college coaches on your list can make a tremendous difference.

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “New NCAA Academic Eligibility Standards For The Class Of 2016”

New NCAA Academic Eligibility Standards for the Class of 2016
By Tom Kovic

Periodically, the NCAA amends and updates recruiting rules and regulations to keep prospects and families on the cutting edge of information as it pertains to college recruiting. Below is a snapshot of important legislation that was recently passed that will directly affect freshman college eligibility.

If you are a rising high school freshman, the NCAA has passed legislation that stiffens academic standards and requirements for NCAA student-athletes. Under current NCAA standards, incoming collegiate freshman must graduate high school with 16 core courses passed and a minimum 2.0 GPA matched with a comparative ACT or SAT score. Come 2016 that will all change.

The new eligibility legislation that will go into effect for those prospects entering a college institution in 2016 establishes tougher academic standards. The aim is to place an emphasis on the “student” in student-athlete, but it also gives our kids plenty of time to get their ducks in a row as they schedule their high school academic coursework. Below are some key components to the new legislation:

Division 1

  • Complete 16 core classes (10 must be completed before the end of the junior year) and 7 of the classes must be in English, Math or Science.
  • The minimum GPA in the core classes required has been modified from 2.0 to 2.3
  •  The minimum GPA for a junior college transfer is now 2.5.

Division 2

Currently, Division 2 student-athletes are required to successfully complete 14 core courses. Students enrolling in a Division II institution on or after August 1, 2013, will be required to demonstrate a 2.0 grade point average in 16 core courses and a minimum SAT score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68.

The aim here in establishing a stricter academic eligibility model is twofold. First the NCAA is attempting to continually drive proactive planning as a cornerstone in the college search for athletes. Secondly, the NCAA wants to help boost college graduation rates, while safeguarding US colleges and universities.

For high school prospects who are current freshmen, this simply means they will need to maintain satisfactory progress in 16 core courses and for prospects looking at D-1 programs, 10 of those 16 courses must be successfully completed by the start of the student-athlete’s senior year of high school.

Core Course

Core courses are defined as a “recognized academic courses” that qualify for high-school graduation. In addition, a prospect will only receive eligibility credit in if the coursework is completed in the following disciplines: English, mathematics, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, computer science, or non-doctrinal religion/philosophy.

In addition, the course must be considered college preparatory by the high school, which is defined as any course that prepares a student academically to enter a four-year collegiate institution upon graduation from high school.


Whether you are a high school freshman or a senior, your best strategy is to schedule a meeting with your guidance counselor or college advisor during the fall. Let your advisor know you have every desire to play as part of a college athletics program and that you need his assistance in registration with the NCAA Eligibility Center. That aside, make it crystal clear that you will be a willing participant in staying on target with all aspects of meeting and exceeding the initial eligibility requirements.

Comparing Standards

The good news is that current high school freshmen have time to get their ducks in a row in planning their coursework over the next 4 years. Here is an example of the flipside: If the new eligibility standards were implemented last year, 40% of all freshman football players in the nation would not have been eligible to play. Therefore it is critical for freshmen high school athletes to meet with their guidance counselors in an effort to understand and meet the goal of successfully completing 10 core classes before the start of the senior year.

Academic Redshirt

Under the new Division 1 eligibility standards, an academic redshirt is a student-athlete, who, as of August 2016, meets the old eligibility standards, but falls below the new standards. In this case, the student-athlete would be eligible to receive an athletic scholarship, but he would not qualify to participate in regular season games. In this case an academic redshirt athlete does not lose a year of eligibility.

To summarize the new legislation:

1.     Academic core course requirements have increased. Class of 2016 and beyond D1 students must have a minimum 2.3 core grade point average (increased from 2.0) along with the corresponding SAT/ACT score.

2.     The new sliding scale for the SAT/ACT can be reviewed at: http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_center/Quick_Reference_Sheet.pdf.

3.     Ten of the 16 core requirements must be completed by the end of the junior year of high school.

4.     If a student-athlete graduates with a 2.0-2.29 core GPA with the appropriate standardized test sliding scale, he or she can still receive a scholarship and participate in practice but cannot participate in game action his or her freshman year.

The NCAA continually revises and improves legislation as it applies to recruitment, eligibility and financial aid and “academic excellence” continues to be the mantra that drives college athletics from the top. Minimum academic eligibility standards have become more rigorous for the Class of 2016, but well within reach for the prospect who takes a pre-emptive approach to plan ahead and work collaboratively with his guidance counselor in organizing academic planning.


College Lacrosse Recruiting: “Maximizing Prospect Communication With College Coaches” By Tom Kovic Of Victory Collegiate Consulting

Maximizing Prospect Communication with College Coaches

By Tom Kovic
Effective communication can be a critical component in the final choice in the college search for high school athletes. That being the case, prospects should try to cultivate this skill early on in an effort to demonstrate their willingness to be an equal partner in the coach-prospect relationship. If your mission is clear, the manner in which you communicate becomes the vehicle that will move your college search plan forward in your chosen direction. On the other hand, ill-prepared communication can cause confusion and misdirection. Your ship moves, but with a weak rudder.
The manner in which you present yourself will directly reflect who you are and trust me…It will be picked up early on and regularly by college coaches and good recruiters. Realizing you have the ability and obligation to be proactive in your recruiting effort gives you the chance to register regularly and in good form, on the radar of the college coaches. It provides you the opportunity to help set the tone and the direction of what will hopefully become a productive prospect-coach relationship.
Develop and maintain a regular awareness and understanding of NCAA contact rules. For example, July 1 was the first opportunity for most college coaches to initiate phone and off-campus face to face contact with rising senior prospects, but growing an understanding that you may call or e-mail a coach at any time, with rare exceptions is critical. The important point here is to practice “persistence with respect” when communicating with coaches. This will give you a better chance in grabbing their attention.between prospects and college coaches
Many prospects get the jitters even thinking about speaking with college coaches and trust me…You’re not alone. College coaches are grounded, down to earth and caring men and women who want you to find the right college match. That aside, they can be brutally honest at times and deliver information you might not want to hear. “Honesty” is the recruiting mantra for a good college coach.
Remind yourself regularly that you “own the results of every action you execute in the recruiting process and practice communicating like you would practice anything else in your life that matters. You will never be perfectly prepared to meet and speak with coaches, but you want to always lean in a “prepared direction.” If you falter or stumble when communicating with coaches, simply find your way back to center. Coaches aren’t concerned about the hiccups; they want to see how you recover.
Remember, when college coaches evaluate, they use 3 simple factors to size up a prospect: Academic strength, athletic ability and depth of character. The character component is a grey area coaches like to navigate. Coaches are gut thinkers that want to know who you are on the inside. This will be easily revealed to them by the manner in which you communicate and present yourself.
If there is a proverbial “red flag” with communication, it would be prospects who reach out to coaches with no real agenda. Coaches are looking for information that will drive your chances to remain in the “A” recruiting file. Whether it is news about improved scores on your ACT exam, or results from a select tournament, give the coaches something that has “grip” and you will improve your chances in boosting your ranking on the recruiting chart.
I use the term “striking a balance in communication” to help develop awareness in prospects and families that effective communication with college coaches is important for two reasons. First, by offering well thought out information that is pertinent to the college search, the prospect sends a clear message to college coaches that a he is well prepared. Second, coaches value time management, and considering the hundreds of potential prospects they work with at any given time; coaches appreciate and remember the proactive effort prospects offer on their end.
The college recruiting process is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It should be an effort that is tactical, well planned and aimed at cultivating sincere relationships with the college coaches. Prospects who embrace effective communication as an important tool in their recruiting arsenal will give themselves the greatest chance in becoming an integral part of the final decision.

“College Camps: A Key Recruiting Tool for the Prospective Student-Athlete” By Tom Kovic

College Camps: A Key Recruiting Tool for the Prospective Student- Athlete

By Tom Kovic

Summer is right around the corner and for every prospect that is in the hunt to match his talent with the right college program, opportunity approaches. Summer opens up more time on the daily schedule and with that, the chance to close in on some key elements of the college search.

There is a laundry list of tactics prospects and families can carry out to increase their visibility and grow awareness with college coaches. Whether you plan to attend multiple showcases and tournaments, or take several road trips to colleges and universities, you want to be sure your effort is measurable. This article focuses on attending specific college camps and utilizing this opportunity as a key recruiting tool in the college quest.

On-campus sports camps are becoming more popular and for good reason. Not only do college coaches who host summer camps reap the benefit of bringing talented student-athletes to the university, they also have the opportunity to evaluate that talent in the comfort of their home base, while offering prospects a first-hand look at campus through a “pseudo” unofficial visit.

Prospects can benefit from this on-campus experience as well. Since the event is held on-site, it provides prospects with direct access to the coach and with very few NCAA recruiting restrictions. Not only will the athlete have the ability to take part in an exciting camp experience, he also has the opportunity to form the foundation of what can potentially become a mutually beneficial relationship with coaches and players.

This opportunity gives the prospect tremendous laterality in maximizing NCAA contact rules and probing the coach about the program, philosophy and where he stands as a future team member. Creating a strong and detailed information base will only assist the prospect and family navigate the college quest with greater confidence.

Obviously, spending a week at a college camp can take a chunk of time out of your summer and determining whether the intent to attend a college camp is to have a fun experience, or to develop a strong connection with the institution, the coach and the program is essential. Considering the college recruiting process has accelerated to the point where college coaches are committing to prospects during the early high school years, it will best serve families to step up their college effort sooner than later.

If the coaches have been tracking your progress, then attending their camp makes greater sense. Consider the following questions before you take the plunge:

  1. Have I introduced myself by e-mail to Coach and expressed my initial interest in the program?
  2. Has Coach had the opportunity to evaluate my talent as a student-athlete either on site (tournaments) or by video and/or personal profile?
  3. Have I connected directly with coach by e-mail or phone to initially discuss his program and communicate my preliminary interest?

The point I try to make here is a simple one. If you are considering investing time and money to attend a college camp, then get the best bang for your buck. If you are registering high on Coach’s radar and his institution ranks in your top tier of schools, attending camp could be a wise choice.

When all is said and done and your camp experience is behind you, what is it you hope to expect from the total experience? Personally, I would want to leave knowing I 1) drove my skill set and awareness as an athlete to a higher level, 2) I had the chance to interact with the coaches and players and I gained a greater appreciation for the institution and 3) I communicated to the coaches my sincere interest in the program and walked away with sound feedback to where I currently stand as a prospect.

Attending college camps can offer prospects the chance to drive their skill set to higher levels. It may also provide additional benefits that will likely cultivate stronger recruiting relationships with specific college coaches in an effort to streamline the college search.