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College Athletic Recruiting That Cannot be Justified

As an educational consultant who helps high school students through the maze of college admissions, I have had the opportunity to work with many different students including those who apply to colleges where an audition or a portfolio will weigh heavily in the admissions decision. I have worked with athletes through the recruiting process, which also adds an additional layer. I understand that different sports and different divisions will vary in their recruitment times and other aspects.

But this article in the NY Times Sports Section stopped me cold. The article begins by telling the story of a young girl, and I mean young, who is weighing college offers at the tender age of 14. Yes, 14 years old and before she has taken one high school class. To quote the article:“For Haley, the process ended last summer, a few weeks before ninth grade began, when she called the coach at Texas to accept her offer of a scholarship four years later.”

The article tells us that Haley is a good athlete, but not a superstar, “She just happens to be a very good soccer player”.

The article goes on to say that recruiting students this young is a violation of the NCAA rules, but that coaches and students are finding ways around this. And it also states that women’s sports are recruiting earlier than men’s sports and that this also seems to be happening in sports that do not generate a lot of revenue for the colleges.

This article goes on to quote the university coach that will eventually coach Haley as saying this:““It’s detrimental to the whole development of the sport, and to the girls,” Haley’s future coach at Texas, Angela Kelly, said at the Florida tournament.”

Another coach, Anson Dorrance from North Carolina, is not happy with the situation either.““It’s killing the kids that go places and don’t play,” he said. “It’s killing the schools that have all the scholarships tied up in kids who can’t play at their level. It’s just, well, it’s actually rather destructive”

While Ms. Kelly states that it is detrimental to the sport and the girls and Mr. Dorrance is concerned about the teams and the students, I didn’t read anything about academic fit. The only reference to grades and test scores was a reference to the Ivy League colleges, “Two Ivy League coaches said they were generally able to look at players with a grade-point average above 3.7 and a score above 2,000 on the College Boards — out of 2,400 — much lower than the standard for nonathlete applicants.”

I think that college administrators, the NCAA, coaches of young students and most importantly, the parents need to say no to this kind of recruiting.  As someone who works with high school students, I can see the growth that happens just between sophomore and junior year and junior year and senior year. To commit to where you want to attend college before ninth grade or even during ninth grade does not serve the student’s best interest. And, frankly, I think offering admission with little or no academic record makes a mockery of college admissions in general.

Janet Rosier