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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.

College Athletics Recruiting: “Identifying Important Areas of the NCAA Manual” By Tom Kovic

College Athletics Recruiting: Identifying Important Areas of the NCAA Manual

By Tom Kovic

The NCAA Manual is the “go to” resource for prospects and families as they begin to build their education base in the college search. Between the Division 1, 2 and 3 manuals there is well over 1500 pages of helpful information!

The aim of this article is to direct you toward these resources and help you simplify your search and wrap your arms around recruiting terms, rules and procedures you will encounter as you navigate your personal college quest.

First, let’s search for a copy of the manual!

Go to www.ncaa.org. Click the “resources” tab. Under “Resources,” Click either the Division 1, 2 or 3 manual links. From there you can either order a hard copy of the manual or download a free Pdf version.

If you haven’t done so already, create a college folder on your laptop and create subfolder and label it “NCAA.” Save the manuals to your folder for easy access in the future.

The manual is loaded with tremendous information, but to be very honest with you, there is only a fraction of information parents and athletes should comb through. When you break it down, only 3 chapters or “Articles” in the manual are absolutely necessary to understand and utilize.

Article 13 Recruiting

This is a very important chapter that will provide you with the nuts and bolts of how recruiting works and the limitations and time-lines college coaches and families are bound. Below is a list of sub-articles I suggest you place your attention:

  • Definitions and Applications
  • Contacts and Evaluations
  • Recruiting Materials
  • Campus Visits
  • Letter of Intent

You will notice in some cases multiple “revisions” of a rule or definition. Simply look carefully to the most recent date of the revision and the effective date and you will be right on target!

This chapter is a great “first read” that will begin to help shape your personal recruiting picture in your mind. Remember, the recruiting process is like learning a new language and sometimes you have to simply “jump in.” That being the case, the more you practice the more you will learn and understand.

Article 14 Eligibility: Academic and General Requirements

Boy is this ever an important chapter! Can you imagine going through the entire recruiting process, showing up to your college campus in the fall of your freshmen year and getting the news from your coach and compliance officer that you are ineligible to practice or play?

Academic eligibility is a necessary part of the college recruiting process and you want to be certain you are on track every step of the way. Whether it is scheduling the proper coursework during your high school years, registering for the NCAA Eligibility Center or taking the ACT’s you want to be sure you have your ducks in a row and hitting tangible targets! Below are important sub-articles to research:

  • Definitions
  • General Eligibility Requirements
  • Freshmen Academic Requirements
  • Transfer Regulations
  • Certification of Eligibility

This chapter is critical and it will provide you with a clearly and spelled out list of academic requirements you will be expected to meet and recruiting pitfalls you want to avoid! Remember, you can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules!

Article 15 Financial Aid

This chapter is important and it will give you a very clear and informative analysis of both need based and athletic related financial aid (scholarships). It not only defines an athletic scholarship and how they are distributed, it also clarifies maximum limits (by sport).

This is a pretty short chapter and I suggest you focus on each sub-article:

  • Definitions
  • Maximum Limits of Aid (Individual)
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Elements of Aid
  • Maximum Sports Limitations

Understanding NCAA rules and procedures is a critical component with any successful college search for athletes. The NCAA manual is a tremendous resource that is readily available. Creating a shortcut to navigate the important areas of the manual will be both time consuming and fruitful in building a well-rounded and resourceful empirical knowledge base as you prepare for college recruiting.

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “The Nice Nudge: Effective Communication In College Recruiting” By Tom Kovic Of Victory Collegiate Consulting

The Nice Nudge: Effective Communication in College Recruiting

By Tom Kovic

The college search for athletes is a quest and unless you are the blue chip kid that the coaches are hovering over, you need a vehicle to drive the recruiting process in your favor. Personally, I believe the manner and how often you communicate with college coaches can make a big difference in your results.

If there is an operative I use with the families I advise in effectively communicating with college coaches it is nudge. Nudge is defined as: “Pushing against gently, especially in order to gain attention or give a signal.” That being said, there is a fine line between nudging the college coaches and bugging them and what follows is an attempt to help you differentiate between the two.

Considering the volume of e-mails they receive from high school prospects, college coaches develop personal filtering systems to root out prospects and place in the active recruiting file. Whether it is an e-mail to update Coach with your latest YouTube video, or a phone call to discuss the program in greater detail, be sure the communication has “grip” and it is part of a seamless effort in developing a meaningful dialogue.

Nowadays, the volume of interested prospects can be overwhelming for a college coach and the trick to experiencing an effective dialogue is simply intending to assist Coach in the recruiting process. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Don’t be afraid to initiate contact with a college coach.
  • Plan your communications thoroughly and be sure the messages you send have value to your case as a prospective student-athlete.
  • Keep every communication simple, concrete and “on point.”
  • Stay persistent in your effort (Remember, coaches are bound to very strict contact rules whereby they cannot, in many cases, return phone calls, e-mails etc.).

By executing a planned approach in communicating with the college coaches you simply control the playing field. This approach may appear aggressive, but when tempered with care and respect, a good coach will see an intangible and strong character component emerge in the prospect.

There’s a lot of chatter out there about college athletics being a business and although we may not agree with this statement in principle, it happens to be true. Therefore, prospects and families have two choices: 1) They can ignore it or 2) You can embrace it and learn to work within the system.

Whether it is a job interview, running for class president or navigating the college search, the “competition component” plays its part in the ultimate success of any journey. “Sticking your foot in the door” is just one of many tactics that really hit home when I advise families to ratchet up their effort.

Simply put, if you happen to be among the majority of college prospects that are lumped into the “B file” of candidates, you are still active and in the hunt, but the competition for a roster spot is fierce. What can you do to rise above the rest of the pack?

  • Be prepared for negative feedback and possible rejection. “You are only as good as your worst moment.”
  • Remain steadfast and persistent in your effort. “The true measure of a champion is not when things are going well, but when your back is in the corner.”
  • Re-evaluate your plan with your recruiting team on a regular basis. “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
  • Execute with passion. “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.”
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone. “Every noble work is first impossible.”
  • Never lose sight of your goal. “Dreams are whispers from the soul.”

The college search for athletes has evolved to new and exciting levels. The competition for athletic scholarship, admission support and even walk-on opportunities is fierce. Embrace this and you will appreciate the stakes in an effort to realize the importance of careful planning and impeccable execution during every step of your college quest.

Remember, there is a fine line between being a nice nudge and a royal pain in cultivating sincere relationships with the college coaches. Rejection can be one step away, but so too is opportunity. Closing in on that centimeter of chance and distancing yourself from the competition takes courage and we all know too well that “chance favors the bold.”

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “Recruiting Strategies To Kick Off The New Year” By Tom Kovic


Recruiting Strategies to Kick Off the New Year

By Tom Kovic

The New Year offers change, new commitments, a clean slate and fresh opportunity to approach the recruiting process with renewed passion. Below are class by class suggested tactics.

The early decision and signing periods are behind you and if you were not picked up in admissions or offered an athletic scholarship you now have new life in the regular decision and regular signing pools.

Will the regular recruiting period be competitive? Yes. Will there be plentiful opportunities? No. Try not to focus on what was not accomplished during the early recruiting process, but re-group and control your playing field. Cast a narrow net in selecting the colleges you will pursue and focus on the following:

1) Meet all admissions application deadlines.

2) Update your personal profile with any pertinent academic and athletic information.

3) Edit your recruiting highlight video with footage.

4) Ping the coaches regularly and avoid incommunicado.

5) Ask your club or high school coach to reach out on your behalf to speak directly with the college coaches.

6) Take another road trip to your top schools and set a meeting with Coach.

Your strategy and operative should be fresh. Provide the coaches with the unique resources to help them see you in a new and different light that will convince them to recruit you earnestly. 

If there is an operative for juniors that should be referenced regularly as you build the recruiting effort it is “momentum.” As a junior prospect, you want to remain highly visible on the college coach’s radar and provide them with regular updates to your academic and athletic progress. I suggest you focus on the following:

1)  Update your YouTube video with new highlights that will get the attention of the coaches.

2) Be sure you are on target academically and registered for and preparing for standardized testing.

3) Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

4) Line up a campus visit and work with the college coach to include a possible overnight stay as part of the trip.

5) Cultivate relationships with each of the coaches you have connected with. The “grey area” character component can evolve here and help separate you from the rest of the pack.

Re-assess your recruiting strategy and look at the “end game.” Identify your ultimate goal in the recruiting process and use it as your catalyst. From here, work backward and identify working targets, each building and surging from one to the next until you reach your present point of reference. Now start from your new “launch point” and surge forward in building upon the plan, one brick at a time.

Information gathering and learning the “new language” of college recruiting should be the mantra for the sophomore prospect, but it goes further than that. As I mentioned early in this article, the college search for athletes has accelerated to a mind bending rate and one way to keep pace is to embrace and understand it. I suggest focusing on the following:

1) Develop a “cliff notes version of “impact” NCAA rules and procedures. Go to the NCAA website (www.ncaa.org) and download the recruiting manuals and pay attention only to the chapters on recruiting, financial aid and eligibility.

2) Put yourself down on paper by creating a 1 page personal profile and developing a 4 minute highlight video.

3) Do a self-evaluation (I have a great 10 question assessment I ask all my students to answer before we launch) and get a grasp on what you are potentially looking for in the college experience.

4) Develop a group of 20-25 colleges, diverse in community, academic offering and athletic strength (D-1, 2, 3). Locate the home and athletic websites and poke around to get a feel” for the different environments.

5) Take 3-5 campus road trips during the year. Don’t just show up. Be sure you have introduced yourself to the coaches through regular communication and line-up a face to face meeting.

The start of 2012 presents new opportunities. Developing a positive mental boost, similar to gearing up for a new season is a proactive step in the right direction. When you break it down, what you create is simply a clean slate to begin again anew and with that, every opportunity to push yourself to achieve great things.

Tom Kovic
Victory Collegiate Consulting

College Lacrosse Recruiting: “Capitalizing On The Character Component In The College Search For Athletes” By Tom Kovic

Capitalizing on the Character Component in the College Search for Athletes

By Tom Kovic

 The college search for athletes is an “individual” quest. A winning strategy for one prospect could be a losing strategy for another. I think we can all agree that when it comes to recruiting, the “blue chip” kids are going to be found…It’s just a matter of when. 

That being said, the majority of the prospects looking for a home on a college campus and as part of a varsity sports team are NOT blue chip kids and they should execute a personal plan of attack and begin to tackle the “grey areas” of recruiting.

Contributing Factors
Coaches are looking at 3 key characteristics in prospects when determining their level of support for prospects. 1) Strong students, 2) Impact athletes and 3) Kids who bring a strong integrity component to the table.

Coaches can easily evaluate academic talent by combing through high school transcripts and standardized test scores. Athletic assessment can be identified through statistical and video analysis, on site tournament evaluations and conversations with a prospect’s coach. The integrity factor could be a tie breaker in the final analysis.

The Character Component
College coaches are looking for the best and the brightest prospects to help drive their program to higher levels, and these days, they are putting a greater premium on the inner make-up of the prospect. They are looking for boys and girls who display loyalty, dedication, perseverance and a diligent approach to their everyday lives. Coaches want impact kids on the team, but they desperately want kids who will become strong links in the team chain.

College coaches will take a systematic approach in doing a thorough academic and athletic evaluation of a prospect to determine where they fit in their recruit priority chart. Moving forward, especially if the prospect is grouped into the top tier of the recruiting file, a diligent college recruiter will reach out to the high school and/or club coach to determine the inner make-up of the prospect.

Given the choice between a blue chip prospect who may be a potential “loose cannon” on the inside of the team and a solidly skilled prospect who brings a strong character component to the table, college coaches will likely lean toward the latter. And a strong testimonial from the prospects current coach can go a long way in closing the loop in the college evaluation.

Leadership Roles
College coaches are grounded, common-sense individuals who mainly rely on their gut when making a majority of their program decisions, including recruiting. Whether you are the captain of your sports team or a member of student government, it’s important to genuinely embrace these leadership roles in a further effort in building your character foundation.

College coaches have an uncanny ability to size up prospects quickly, efficiently and they can pinpoint a true leadership character as opposed to “resume leadership” in a heartbeat. The self-aware and self-confident prospect is, in most cases, going to shine more brightly in the eyes of the college coaches.

Volunteer Work
Student-athletes can develop character strength in many ways and volunteer work is not only good for the community, it is good for the soul. Reach within yourself and identify areas where you feel you can be impactful. Whether it is working with a local food bank, or coaching a local youth sports group, embrace it with passion and remain committed to your service and believe you can make a difference.

Prospects are considered “special interest” in the eyes of college admissions advisors, especially if college coaches identify them as impact athletes. Coaches use 2 simple and clear cut criteria in determining their support level for athletes: Academic strength and athletic talent. The third criteria is strength of character and in many cases, this can be a key factor that may help prospects separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

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: