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The Business of College Recruiting

July 22, 2018

College recruiting is all about finding the best players for college programs. Recruiting at the major college level is big-time in order to recruit big-time players. The game of college recruiting is cut-throat; it’s kill or be killed when you’re out there looking for the best talent for your college program.

College athletics is mostly about winning, making money and turning your program into a success right now. The days of taking three to five years to build a successful program are long gone.

To be a success at any sport at the major college level you have to reach your conference tournament then go beyond the tournament to compete for a national championship. Anything less, especially if you’re a college coach. Chances are you will be fired.

College sports is big business from the games on TV to the fans who see the teams play in person, big money is being made and the better your college program does in a tournament or ball games means more money for your college or university.

The pressure to achieve that goal year in and year out is extremely difficult and only the most successful coaches, with a strong background in recruiting, will succeed. Keep in mind, to reach the level of the major college coach you already know strategy, you already know how to coach and motivate players and do all the things that it takes to prepare your team for each and every day, but if you do not have the best players for your program to succeed then you will struggle. Recruiting is such a sophisticated process that it requires a coach to handle those responsibilities full time.

¿How has college sports become big business?

The answer to that question is television, the NCAA tournament and the BCS Bowl championship series.

Fans at the stadiums want to see their favorite college team compete which generates millions of dollars in revenue, merchandise is sold, television rights are sold and the larger college programs get that money which could stretch from $40 to $50 million per year in revenue.

College athletics is an extremely powerful presence in American culture. Millions of people watch the games, millions of people read about their favorite team, and millions more spend money on their favorite teams’ merchandise. With all of that being said, you must produce a successful college program every year and the only way to do that is to recruit top caliber players by any means necessary.

The Recruiting

The best college coaches who can recruit and win successfully are paid millions of dollars. Many coaches make more money than the President of the United States. Coaches who receive these large salaries are there for one reason: to win games. Because of the pressure to win each and every year, there are some college programs that will cheat to secure the top high school talent in America.

The rules that govern college programs, set forth by the NCAA, are as big as a phonebook. There are so many rules and regulations that govern college programs and the college recruiting process that it can be a challenge to stay within the guidelines of the NCAA rulebook.

Many college programs have what is called a “compliance department” that oversees the athletic programs to ensure that the rules are being followed. Cheating at college recruiting happens almost every day. Many college coaches, in order to succeed, feel they have to go outside the rule book in order to recruit players.With that type of pressure placed on college coaches to win many turn to cheating. Cheating is almost a way of life in the world of college recruiting because in order to achieve some level of success, rules will be broken.

College coaches, it seems to me, do not fear getting caught. So what if they lose a scholarship or two or have to vacate ballgames that they won. Cheating to recruit players will never stop. Nobody cares about the players it seems. When a college program only cares if that player can help that program win ball games, then that college program will do almost anything to recruit a potential superstar athlete and do whatever necessary to keep that college athlete eligible.

What does this say about the college coach who only cares if you can play a game and is willing to manipulate the rules of recruiting to recruit you to their program?

There are many college student athletes who, for the most part, have no business ever being admitted to college in the first place, but because they can play a sport better than many others, that college’s athletic department is willing to bend the rules to get that superstar athlete admitted into their college program.

There was a time when a college coach would recruit athletes, build their programs, graduate their players and continue to build a successful program.That does not happen anymore. College programs are built for the ‘right now’ and recruiting is a key factor in reaching major success.

College coaches from major college programs have the resources to recruit players from all over the country. These coaches, with their deep recruiting pockets, will travel coast-to-coast in search of talent. Because of the recruiting calendar set by the NCAA, the actual days to evaluate and recruit players is limited. College coaches are using whatever resources are available to them to recruit players.

Football camps is a good resource to evaluate and recruit players and the AAU for basketball is another good resource that is used to recruit players but all of these resources can be manipulated by paying off club coaches and making promises to persuade a high school athlete to sign to their college program.

It seems that everyone is looking to make money off high school student athletes who possess superior skills to compete at the major college level. “Street Agent” is a term sometimes used to direct a high school basketball player to a college program.

That so-called agent is the middleman who can facilitate the recruiting process outside of the rules to help secure recruits to a college program.

Who is to blame for how out of control the college recruiting process has gotten? To answer that question, you really have to go back 50-60 years, when top recruits were getting special gifts or cash to play ball at a certain college.

Even as far back as the 1950′s and 60′s, illegal recruiting has gone on. Is it the parent’s fault because they’ve got to have some inkling as to what’s going on and maybe they accepted it as part of the process of getting their son or daughter into a major college program.

What responsibility does the high school coach have?

Do they also turn a blind eye to what’s going on with their superstar player? There is no doubt that the high school coach is aware of the illegal recruiting. What role does the club coach play in the illegal recruiting? They have just as much access to players as anyone and can influence players to certain programs if the price is right.

The ultimate goal, when it comes to recruiting, is to bring in the best possible players for your program and the athletes understand that there is value to obtain their services. These high school athletes understand how coveted they are by college programs that look to them to turn their program into winners.

The student athletes who have been hyped up during their high school athletic careers understand that most college programs may have to do something extra to secure their recruitment to that program.

An illegal recruiting allegation is the term associated with recruiting by underhanded practices by some college coaches. Many times, these allegations surface during a college coaches time associated with that program and sometimes nothing is done, in terms of investigation, until after that coach has moved on to another program. Big-time college coaches these days do not stay in one place very long.

Generally, coaches may stay two or three recruiting classes build their programs into a winner, make a lot of money and move on to bigger paying coaching jobs, before any sanctions are placed on them while still with that program.

Gone are the days where a coach will remain at a program for his entire career. The pressure to win makes coaches move to different jobs all the time. Win or lose, the coaching carousel never stops.

If a college program is found guilty of a recruiting allegation, only the program suffers by loss of scholarships or they may have to vacate victories. But how many times has a college coach been fined lost some of the money they make for recruiting wrong-doing?

The answer is never! Sure there have been college coaches who have been fired because of recruiting wrong-doings, but somehow these coaches continue to get coaching jobs at other major college programs.

Summer recruiting, as it applies to AAU or club basketball, is big business this time of the year because college programs can scout and evaluate potential recruits. Club basketball in some ways is taking over high school basketball in terms of recruiting. During the summer club season, there are many tournaments around the country where college programs can see the best of the best high school talent show their skills.

This, too, has become corrupt. Many AAU club coaches earn six-figure salaries from shoe companies and donations and they do not have to disclose this information. In many people’s opinion, there is too much power and influence over high school athletes than what the high school coaches have. There is a tug of war between club coaches and high school coaches over the control of the high school student athletes but who reaps the benefits? The college coaches!

For every bad story you read about college recruiting there are good stories; there are stories about the hidden talent that was discovered. While the stories about players walking on to a major college program and turning out to be outstanding student athletes is few.There are many rules in place to protect the high school student athletes from over-zealous recruiters. But, like many things in this world, rules are made to be broken and are often broken in the big-time world of college recruiting.