College Bound Athlete

STUDENT ATHLETE GOAL: To be guaranteed a roster spot at a school that is right for you as both an athlete and a student.

College coaches may contact 1000's of athletes each year to find the players that fit their needs, teams and goals for success. You are no different! Just like the coach, you need to not only contact your top target colleges, but many others. You bring value to a college, a coach and an athletic program. In return, you can get help finding and receiving financial assistance. You want a school that fits your needs and appreciates what you bring to the athletic program. College recruiting is a marketing process for both a school and an athlete. To get noticed you need to market yourself to 10 to 30+ schools initially.

IMPORTANT! If you are a college-bound athlete, meet with your high school counselor by your 10th grade year to make sure you are registering for NCAA and NAIA approved classes. Continue to work hand-in-hand with your counselor throughout high school to ensure you are meeting all the NCAA and NAIA requirements and paperwork.

Athletic Associations


The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a very large athletic association divided into three divisions. To be eligible, students must meet several criteria plus have transcripts and test scores verified. The NCAA has strict rules on amateurism. Student must register with the NCAA if looking into DI and DII schools. DI and DII have very precise recruiting rules and restrictions. DIII has less recruiting restrictions because academic requirements and eligibility are handled through each individual school. DIII schools can't offer athletic scholarships, but do offer money in many other ways. Many times DIII schools hand out more overall aid than DI and DII schools. Transfer students must sign a release before talking to other schools. All three divisions are competitive.

NCAA Eligibilty Center
NCAA Student Athlete Guide Book
NCAA National Letter of Intent
NCAA Eligibility Center Quick Reference


National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools are generally smaller, secular colleges that compete regionally with other NAIA schools. This association has fewer recruiting and eligibility restrictions than NCAA and the flexibility for a player to transfer without missing a season or affecting eligibilty. It is competitive, but usually less of a commitment than DI or the top DII schools. NAIA can offer athletic scholarships.

NAIA Eligibilty Center
NAIA Guide for the College-bound Student-Athlete
NAIA schools


The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) is a sister organization to the NCAA and governs two-year athletic programs throughout the United States. It is divided into Divisions and Regions.The current NJCAA has 24 separate regions across the United States.

NHCAA Prospective Athlete Brochure
NJCAA Eligibilty Information
NJCAA Letter of Intent

Why You Must Market Yourself

  1. FEW ACTIVELY RECRUITED -Thousand of athletes wait for calls from college coaches. Most of the time those calls don't come. Not because those athletes aren't good enough, but because there are too many athletes for a coach to know or contact. It is up to you to show the coaches that you are deserving of their attention and wanting to be at their schools.

  2. LIMITED $ - You are just one in a zillion athletes competing for the same dollars. Only a small percentage of athletes get a substantial scholarship. In fact, less than 1% of all DI athletes receive a full ride. Many schools don't even fund all their allowed athletic scholarships. You must win those dollars!

  3. RECRUITING IS OVER QUICKLY - The top prospects can get over 50 offers by January 1st of their junior year, then signed by July 1st. DI and DII schools generally know their freshman players two years in advance. DIII, even without athletic scholarships, is about a year in advance, but their recruiting is more dependent on Admissions policies. NAIA knows most of their athletes a year in advance. You must make relationships with target college coaches as soon as you think you are ready.

Your Marketing Tools

The primary use of these athletic marketing tools is to develop a solid relationship with a coach. Keeping regular contact with your target coaches will show that you are interested, reliable and committed. If a coach doesn't seem interested, try again, but let that coach and school go if it still goes nowhere. You want to be somewhere that truly appreciates what you bring to the program; you don't want to have to always prove yourself more than necessary.

  • Your academics

  • Your athletics

  • Your life outside of academics and athletics

  • Prospective Athlete Form (on a college's website)

  • Emails and letters

  • Resume and/or on-line resume (website)

  • Highlight videos

  • Phone calls (YOU can call a coach any time; only coaches have restrictions)

  • Be seen - invite coaches to watch you compete

What Athletes Can Do

Be proactive!  The athletes willing to market themselves are the ones who will have the most opportunities.  Here are seven steps you can take.

1.  Research colleges.  Athletes should come up with a list of 10 colleges that have the athletic programs that interest them. This list will change over time, but it will help them get started. They should research the academics, athletic program, area, etc. and make sure each school is a place that would interest them even if they were no longer on the team.

2.  Contact coaches. They should call and email each coach to introduce themselves and make the coach aware of their interest. If the coach responds, they should send follow-up emails and phone calls regularly.

3. Fill out the questionnaire on the team’s home page. This will get the athlete into the database of both the coach and the admissions department.

4. Prepare a video highlight film. Athletes should post the film on YouTube and send a link to each coach they are in contact with.

  • Highlight starts and show complete races.

  • Jumpers and throwers should make sure their technique is clear and visible.

  • Be as close to the event as possible so there is an unobstructed view.

5. Keep college coaches updated. Athletes should let college coaches known when they will be competing.

6. Send stats. Keep track of the athlete’s stats and the event(s) they were in, and have them send the information to college coaches. The place the athlete finished is not that important.

7. Attend camps. Athletes should go to university camps and summer camps where coaches from the schools that they are interested in will be working. These are advertised on the program’s web page. They will see a link or a banner to click on.