When Can College Coaches Make You An Offer?
You will most likely spend a lot of your time during the recruiting process thinking about when you will receive a coveted offer from a college coach. So, it's reasonable to wonder when precisely a college coach can make you an offer to play for their school.
According to the NCAA rules, college coaches are not allowed to offer scholarships to recruits before August 1 or September 1, depending on the sport, of a student-athlete's junior year. These rules apply to all sports except football, women's and men's basketball, and baseball.
Below we will clarify how several factors will impact when a college coach might offer you a scholarship and how much of your tuition is included in that scholarship.
The Offer Process At Each Division
One of the main factors that affects the offer process is the division that the school competes at. This difference is primarily driven by how competitive the recruiting process is in that division.
Division I: Division I coaches prefer that players commit early. Coaches will want to leverage commitments from potential elite players to attract other top recruits to their school, pushing the recruiting process earlier for elite programs. Early commitments are verbal, and the written commitment comes on signing day of senior year. Verbal commitments may be offered before senior year, but it is not uncommon for some sports to still be filling their roster throughout your senior year. For the sports exempt from the NCAA rule mentioned above, Division I college coaches can make offers in the second half of sophomore year and throughout junior year. Receiving an offer during the spring of the senior year is rare for potential Division I student-athletes.
Division II: The Division II timeline again varies based on the situation. Athletes who start the recruiting process by looking at Division II schools are more likely to receive an offer much sooner than athletes who consider Division I first. These student-athletes who are not offered a Division I scholarship and successfully transition to targeting Division II schools are likely to receive an offer in the fall of their senior year. Since Division II operates under the equivalency model, getting an offer is highly dependent on how much scholarship money is available.
Division III: Division III is very different from the higher division levels when it comes to the recruiting process because there are no athletic scholarships. Division III schools set their own admissions standards and are not bound to NCAA recruiting regulations like the top divisions.Division III coaches still make verbal offers to players, but only for spots on their rosters. Still, there are benefits to accepting a roster position from a Division III coach. For instance, the coach can help you navigate the admissions and academic scholarship process.
Ultimately, offers are made earlier for programs that compete at the highest level of competition. But, most athletes are likely to receive a scholarship offer sometime in their senior year.
How Offers Are Made
College coaches make offers in a variety of ways. Some coaches prefer to offer you scholarships over the phone, whereas others prefer to extend offers to you in person on your official visit. How a college coach extends you a scholarship will largely be to their preference and depend on your particular recruiting situation.
Official Visits: College coaches are very likely to make an offer during an official visit or about a week after. For this reason, it's essential to take official visits seriously and ask the coach any important questions you may have. Try to get a sense of just how interested the coach staff is of you and how much scholarship money you might be offered. Scheduling all your official visits in the same month is a good idea to be able to compare offers.
High School Or Club Coach: College coaches can also make offers through a high school or club coach, especially during no contact periods. College coaches may talk to your high school coach and tell them they have an offer for you. The high school coach can either pass that information along to the student or have the student call the coach.
Summer Camp: A less common way to get an offer is at a school’s summer camp. For this reason, attend any camps college coaches invite you to. Even if you don't receive an offer, playing your best may catch a coach's attention enough to be interested in you as a recruit for the future.
Whether an offer is received in person, through a coach or at a camp, having a verbal offer in hand means you are well on your way to playing your sport in college.
What Exactly Is An Offer?
A verbal scholarship offer is just what it sounds like -- a college coach offers a scholarship to a potential student-athlete verbally. Receiving a verbal scholarship offer is an exciting step in the recruiting process and the last step before you officially receive an athletic scholarship offer and sign your National Letter of Intent.
**Offers Are Not Binding:**This verbal offer is not a binding agreement, and either the student-athlete or coach can back out at any time. It becomes official when you sign the National Letter of Intent. Even though it’s not official, you should know the different types of scholarship offers.
Full-Ride Scholarship Offer: Every offer from a headcount program will be a full-ride scholarship. For football, men's and women's basketball, tennis, gymnastics and volleyball, coaches have a set number of scholarship awards, so every student-athlete receives the full cost of attendance.
Partial Scholarship Offer: For equivalency sports and Division II programs, college coaches have a certain amount of scholarship money collectively for the team. They can divide this money up however they want to. A partial scholarship offer can pay for a large portion of your college tuition or only a small amount.
Preferred Walk-On Offer: Preferred walk-ons are players who the coach would like to have on the team, but are not offered any financial assistance for at least the first year. They may be able to receive financial aid in their second year, but nothing is guaranteed.
To review, not all offers are the same and can vary from a full-ride scholarship all the way down to a prefered walk-on position. Be sure to understand what exactly is on the table when a college makes you an offer.
What Should You Do If You Get An Offer?
When you receive a scholarship offer, you should be very excited. The majority of high school athletes never make it this far in the recruiting process. Once you’ve let it sink, there are a few next steps you’ll need to take.
Make Your Decision: Once you receive an offer, you can either accept the offer and move forward immediately with the coach or ask for a bit more time to make your decision. Coaches understand that this is a significant decision. You may want to talk with your parents or wait to hear from more schools before making your final decision.
Signing Day: A verbal scholarship offer becomes official after a college coach sends a Letter of Intent on the National Letter of Intent signing day. Student-athletes have one week to respond to the Letter of Intent; otherwise, it goes void.
Keep Your Eye On The Prize: If you accept a verbal offer, there is a chance that it won't turn into an official offer by the time you get to senior year. The main reasons this might happen are if you get injured, the coach leaves the program, or you become ineligible. Make sure you practice and play safely to prevent injury. Keeping your grades up and staying healthy should be your main priorities after receiving an offer.
Finally, don't forget to celebrate and enjoy the pay-off of all your hard work! Recruiting can be a stressful process, and it's great to give yourself some credit for how hard you worked to get to this point.
How Should You Navigate Multiple Offers?
Your first instinct upon receiving an offer may be to immediately accept and move forward with the program. However, you may have some leverage to negotiate a better scholarship offer. It's crucial to achieve a healthy balance of getting the financial support you need to attend your top school, but not offending the coach.
Only Negotiate For Partial Scholarships: Negotiating your offer is only essential if the program you have received an offer from operates under the equivalency model. Coaches from these sports and divisions can divide up their scholarship money however they want, and give more scholarship money to some players and less to others.
Competing Offers: The most effective way to negotiate a better offer is to have legitimate offers from other schools. College coaches don't want to lose a top recruit to another school, so they will likely increase your financial aid package if you can make a significant impact on the school's program.
Honest Communication: If you decide to negotiate your offer, remember to be honest when communicating with college coaches. Do your research to compare each school's financial aid and what your family's expected contribution is. Don't forget to factor books, room and board, and extra fees into this total. Once you know what each college will cost, you will be more prepared to ask a college coach to match your best offer.
Even if you don't negotiate your offer with the college coach, you will likely have to compare multiple offers from different schools. The best way to make a decision is to decide what your top schools are. Then consider various factors like cost, program fit and the overall college experience at that school.
Things To Keep In Mind
Be Proactive: The more you participate in the recruiting process and the more tools you take advantage of, the better off you'll be. Stay in contact with college coaches to keep tabs on your chances of getting an offer. By emailing and calling coaches from multiple colleges, you can set yourself apart.
Promote Yourself: You can take advantage of your social media or recruiting platforms to promote your offer.