Athletic Recruitment FAQs
Athletic recruitment can be daunting, overwhelming, and just plain confusing. Here’s Part 1 of our official “Road to Recruitment” series- straight from a college athlete who’s been through it all. This is an exciting time in your life as a student athlete, so relax and have fun with it!
Athletic recruitment can be daunting, overwhelming, and just plain confusing. Here’s Part 1 of our official “Road to Recruitment” series- straight from a college athlete who’s been through it all. This is an exciting time in your life as a student-athlete, so relax and have fun with it!
Q: How many levels are there in collegiate sports?
A: Short answer? Five. Long answer? The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) is broken down into three divisions: Division I, Division II, and Division III- we’ll talk more about those later. There are about 1,300 NCAA schools (University of Alabama, Auburn University, Troy University, etc.), with nearly 500,000 student athletes. They’re the ones you’re watching on College Gameday and filling out your March Madness brackets with. The NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) has about 300 member schools. These schools typically have smaller athletic budgets- think Faulkner University or the University of Mobile. NAIA member schools are great for athletes who are looking for smaller campuses and class sizes. Talent at this level is still very competitive, so don’t discount these universities. The NJCAA (National Junior College Athletics Association) is comprised of two-year community and state colleges. If you’re trying to better yourself both academically and athletically to earn a spot at a four-year college later down the road, junior college is a great place to start.
Q: How does the NCAA split their divisions?
A: Divisions are separated based on the level of competition and the amount of resources each school can supply to their athletic department. Division I offers the highest level of athletic competition. These schools have the biggest budgets and largest student bodies, meaning they have the most scholarship money to give. With football only, Division I is further subdivided into two categories: FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) and FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). FBS teams, like Auburn University and the University of Alabama, have bigger budgets and facilities, while FCS teams, like Troy University and the University of South Alabama, are the smaller schools in the division. There are almost 300 schools competing at the Division II level, including Auburn University at Montgomery and the University of North Alabama. There are still athletic scholarships available at this level, but they are usually only partial. Division III is the largest of all the NCAA Divisions, with 444 schools. The key difference that sets Division III apart from the others is there are no athletic scholarships given. Birmingham Southern College and Huntingdon College are the only Division III schools in Alabama.
TERMS TO KNOW: Now that we’ve covered the different levels and divisions, it might be helpful to brush up on some commonly used recruitment vocab.
- Contact Period: This is the time during which a college coach is able to have face-to-face contact with a college-bound athlete and their parents, as well as visit their school and watch them compete.
- Evaluation Period: During this period, a college coach may watch the athlete compete. They cannot make face-to-face contact with the athlete or their parents off the college’s campus.
- Quiet Period: A college coach can only have face-to-face contact with the athlete on the college’s campus during this period. They cannot watch the athlete compete or visit their high school.
- Dead Period: This is the time during which a college coach cannot make face-to-face contact with the athlete, visit the athlete’s school, or watch them compete.
- Official Visit / Unofficial Visit: If the college pays for anything of yours during a visit, it’s considered an official visit. If you or your parents pay for everything, it’s unofficial. The only things a college is permitted to pay for during an unofficial visit are three tickets (for you and your parents) to a home sporting event.
- Verbal Commitment: This is a phrase used when an athlete announces which school they are going to attend. It is not in any way a binding contract. Only signing a National Letter of Intent will bind you to a school.
- National Letter of Intent: A National Letter of Intent is signed by a student athlete when they agree to attend a Division I or II school. This is an agreement stating the university will provide financial aid to the student athlete for one academic year, as long as they are admitted to the school and are eligible under the NCAA’s rules. This step is voluntary- you are not required to sign a Letter of Intent. Once you sign, the recruitment process is over, and no other institutions are allowed to contact you. You can request a release from your contract if you choose to attend a different school. However, if you attend another school without being released, you’ll lose one full year of NCAA eligibility
In our next installment of “Road to Recruitment,” we’ll cover what you should be doing to get recruited— from academic requirements to highlight videos. Stay tuned—you don’t want to miss it!