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How to Become an Athletic Director: Separators – Part 1Saturday, September 29th, 2012

 

by UltimateSportsInsider.com

I was invited to speak last year at the NACDA Convention in Orlando, Florida and presented a talk entitled “Moving from the Business Office to the Athletic Director Chair”.  Since that talk, a number of people have asked me for copies of my comments and notes.  Since these requests keep coming, I have created a multi-part series that recaps and expands on the NACDA talk.  I am far from an expert, but I hope my experiences make this series valuable and thought provoking.  Here is the first article of the series:

Blogger Seth Godin in a recent posting indicated that he believes there are only two reasons people aren’t paid more than their current salary – 1) People don’t know what they are worth or 2) The person isn’t worth as much as they think they are.

If Godin were to apply this concept to becoming an athletic director, he might suggest there are really only two reasons you haven’t become an AD yet – 1) People don’t know that you are ready to be an AD, or 2) You aren’t (currently) ready to be an AD as much as you believe you are.  But I would add a third reason – you may not be the fit that a particular institution is seeking.

So how do you overcome these issues?  I had breakfast recently with Boston Celtics Assistant Coach,  Kevin Eastman who suggested a great concept – “separators”.  You need to create separators – specific things that distinguish you from the competition – to move up in your career.

There are many, many talented people who are striving to become athletic directors from undergraduate students to senior associate athletic directors.  Focusing on daily responsibilities and doing them well is crucial, but going beyond those responsibilities is even more important.  Clearly establishing a personal brand – whether by serving on NCAA committees, being visible in conference meetings, or publicly sharing your views via social media in ways that are helpful can be separators.  These activities force you to think and be open to criticism from the outside.  When you say something publicly it more clearly defines who you are. Being able to articulate your views is necessary as an AD and is something you must be prepared to do when interviewing for an AD job.

Carve a niche, and make your brand relevant – but not relevant to everyone, because that isn’t possible.  Explain who you are and what you stand for and this will help you find the ubiquitous yet illusive “fit”.  Your beliefs are your brand.  And don’t compromise those things just to get the job.  Conscious and purposeful expression about your view of intercollegiate athletics can be a separator.

Start today.  The investments you make now may pay the biggest dividends later and provide the separator that lands you that next opportunity.

Next – Athletic director hiring trends

 

Why College Coaches Like Recruiting NCSA Student – AthletesSaturday, September 29th, 2012

 

 

by Ellen Sawin, NCSA College Relations

Across the nation there are hundreds of thousands of high school athletes who say they want to be a college athlete. From a 6-sport sample, it was revealed that on an average only 5.98% of high school athletes will go on to play their respective sport in college. While some athletes are sought by every top program for their sport, other athletes will go undetected by all levels (even if they are capable of playing at the collegiate level). The undetected athletes will miss out on the chance to realize their dream of playing in college, not because they were not good enough, simply because they were not seen.

NCSA student-athletes refuse to go unseen. 90% of NCSA’s high school athletes go on to play in college.  This is because the athletes working with NCSA are committed to reaching their goal. They are committed to learning about the recruiting process and getting everything out of it that they can. These athletes work continuously with NCSA’s employees, a staff of 300+ former college athletes and coaches, to learn the ins and outs of college athletics and how to be successfully recruited.

Student-athletes working with NCSA start with recruiting education. They interact on webinars with Recruiting Coaches to learn how to get started, what they need to do and when to do it. These same athletes then talk with a recruiting coach one on one. During these conversations the athletes have the opportunity to ask questions, seek guidance, and learn from someone who has gone through the process thousands of times.

The athletes are also constantly working on their own to keep their NCSA online profiles up to date. Next, the players take the time to complete different tasks set forth by NCSA. This includes everything from registering with the NCAA clearing house to uploading their transcripts and sending in video to be edited and posted on their pages.  The athletes also complete educational tasks that help them determine what type of schools they are interested in and how to succeed on standardized tests.

The bottom line is that NCSA student-athletes are not stereotypical high school athletes. After all, 90% of these athletes will play in college. For average high school athletes, only 3.2% of men’s basketball players and 5.7% of men’s soccer players will go on to play at the next level. NCSA recruits are the athletes who will do whatever they can to play in college, and the previous numbers are the evidence. NCSA athletes want it more and work harder to play in college, than other players of equal ability . These athletes are committed to success, something that will always be part of their character.

Ellen Sawin is a recent graduate from the University of Evansville, where she was a 4 year starter and 2 year team captain of the University’s D-1 volleyball team. As a volleyball player she was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman team, and was named to multiple All-Tournament teams. She was UE’s 2012 Female Student-Athlete of the year. During her time at UE she was also the President of the University’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.), and was UE’s female representative on the Missouri Valley Conference SAAC. Ellen now works for NCSA Athletic Recruiting in the College Relations Department.  To learn more about NCSA Athletic Recruiting and the free database of verified prospects that coaches can access 24/7, click here.

 

 

3 Effective Ways to Stop Recruiting a ProspectFriday, September 21st, 2012

Breaking up is hard to do, as the saying goes.

Especially for college coaches.

We’ve worked with coaches who feel heart-broken about having to tell a recruit that they’re no longer interested.  Some coaches avoid the discussion all together, and just stop communicating with a recruit.  A handful of coaches I’ve met even feel obliged to follow through with an offer if the athlete stays in touch and continues to show interest, even if the coach now feels that he or she isn’t going to perform at the same level they did when the coach originally recruited them.

Many times, stopping the recruiting process is also a matter of strategy: A coach knows that if they end the recruiting process incorrectly, they might risk offending a coach, the parents or the recruit – all of whom may have influence over other recruits in the future.

Like I said, breaking-up is hard to do.

That being said, we’ve seen a few very effective ways to do it.  And since letting a prospect go is something that happens year around, I wanted to pass along some of the best strategies that have worked for other coaches. Specifically, there are key phrases and ideas that we’ve seen work best over the years. This way your recruits understand why you are ending the process, and what you see as the positives in the situation:

  • Explain why you’ve made the decision, with lots of detail. Tell them exactly why, based on your plan, they aren’t going to be a good fit for your program.  The more details, the better.  It tells them that they mattered to you, and that’s the best way to lessen the blow.  We have had consistent focus-group research that tells us coaches who explain their reasoning, and base it on athletic facts and reasoning, will win out over emotion as they formulate a reaction to the news.  So, the key phrases we would recommend including in your messaging would include “I want to tell you exactly why my staff and I came to this decision”, as well as, “When we looked at your strengths as a player, we just figured out that it wouldn’t be fair to bring you in and not utilize some of your strongest skill sets here.”  Remember, lots of detail and an honest explanation.  That’s goal number one.
  • Point them in the right direction. Another important aspect of an effective ending conversation is to tell them what you’d recommend they do next: Suggest the right kind of conference, a coach you know…something that tells them they really can play at the next level, and that “based on your experience as a college coach”, you’d recommend a specific next step in the process for them.  It’s an incredibly powerful way to end your relationship with a positive, action-oriented plan.
  • Write a letter. Explain yourself, and include some of the details that you included in your original conversation.  Why a letter?  It’s powerful, and it has staying power. Your prospect may not like your final decision, but a professional and personalized letter will – in time – show respect for the fact that you were honest with them and took the time to explain the reasoning behind your decision.  In addition, the letter will get shared…with other parents, other recruits, and coaches that you want to maintain good relationships with – for months and years to come.  Paper is powerful. (By the way, if you’re a client, please consult us and have us help you create the right communication plan for your specific situation, and help construct the right content for the message).

Is this an exhaustive list?  No.  But it does contain three elements that we’ve seen be the most effective when it came to ending the recruiting process and ensuring the best possible results when it came to how prospects and their parents (and coaches!) reacted to the end of the process.  We highly recommend these three strategies when you reach the decision to no longer recruit one of your prospects.

Looking for more information and research, but aren’t quite ready to have us work with you one-on-one?  There are a variety of free and low-cost recruiting resources we’ve developed specifically for college coaches.  Click here to find out more.

Is it Time to Answer the Objection? Part 2Saturday, September 15th, 2012

 

by Mark Giganti, National Recruiting Coordinator, Tudor Collegiate Strategies

In my first installment, we established “if” you should answer an objection, and when to answer it most effectively, let’s look at the first of four steps in a  method for handling objections:

Step 1: Cushion the objection.  When someone objects to what you’ve said; an impression they have of your university/program…..what do you think they expect to happen next?  For you to defend your position, to take the opposite stance, to change their mind.  Want to throw them for a loop?

Don’t.  Cushion their objection first.  Here’s an example:  “Your program/college/conference seems way smaller than the other schools I’m interested in.”  The typical response:  A) “Well, we’re bigger than some schools, we have X students, we play against X schools.”  A cushioned response sounds like this: B) “The size of the program/college/conference you choose is important, isn’t it?”

In response A, you move to an adversarial position with the prospect, in response B you move to a sympathetic stance….not agreeing with their position, but acknowledging its validity.  Once you’ve established your stance, the prospect is more willing to listen because you’re not in an opposite position, but a “next to” position.  Imagine it visually: In response A, you are directly across the table from the prospect.  In response B, you have moved from across the table to next to them at the table.  That’s what the cushion accomplishes.

Another example might serve to clarify even further:  “Coach, the money I’m being offered from other schools is more than you/the university is offering.”  Typical response: A)  “I only have so much to give, and we’re tapped out on budget dollars…this is the best I can do.”  Cushioned response: B)  “Taking all the variables including finances into consideration when choosing a school is important isn’t it?”

Remember, we haven’t even begun to talk about answering the objection yet.  We’re merely getting into position so the prospect can hear the answer in the best way.  First we must cushion the objection, THEN we answer it, and begin to move the call/visit to the next step.  Those are steps two and three.  I told you there were four steps.  The fourth is one we’ll explore when you get the never ending objections…they just keep coming, and coming, and coming…but more about that later.  In my next installment I’ll tell you more about answering the objection – Step two in our process.  Until then….cushion to your heart’s delight.  Try it at home when you get objections from your family, and let me know how it goes.

Mark Giganti is a National Recruiting Coordinator at Tudor Collegiate Strategies, specializing in recruiting strategy and sales techniques for college coaches.  To reach Mark with questions about overcoming prospect objections in your recruiting conversations, email him at mark@dantudor.com.

 

We KNOW You Care About Your Recruits, But Do You SHOW You Care?Saturday, September 15th, 2012

 

There’s a subtle difference between “knowing” and “showing” you care.

You and I know you care about them because you devote an incredible amount of time in communicating with them.  You show you care by telling them about your program, by setting aside money for them, and by worrying whether or not you are going to be their top choice when they finally make their decision.

But is that enough?  Or is your prospect that you are counting on for this year’s recruiting class looking for more?

Author and marketing guru, Seth Godin, expands on this idea, and helps to formulate an answer to those two questions:

No one cares how much you care.

That salesperson who will surely die if he doesn’t close this sale, that painter who is sweating blood to get her idea on the canvas, that student who just pulled an all-nighter…

In fact, we’re hyper alert to the appearance of caring. We want to do business with people who appear to care, who appear to bring care and passion and dedication to their work. If the work expresses caring, if you consistently and professionally deliver on that expression, they’re sold.

The truth is that it’s what they perceive that matters, not what you bring to the table. If you care but your work doesn’t show it, you’ve failed. If you care so much that you’re unable to bring quality, efficiency and discernment to your work, they’ll walk away from it.

And the irony? The best, most reliable way to appear to care when it matters–is to care.

It’s an amazingly simple difference that more than likely, only a few of us have ever really thought about before.  But, how are college coaches supposed to “show” they care?  We have recently conducted focus group studies with some of our clients. We talked to Freshmen student athletes to hear their prospective. Based on these interviews, here are three things we’d recommend to serious recruiters, those of you who want to take their prospect communication and relationships to the next level. And, through acts of caring, show high school recruits the answers to the questions they really want to know:

  1. An explanation of your offer as early as possible. They value the coaches who sit down and either lay out what offer you are going to be putting in front of them – even if you can’t spell out all of the details yet.  At many schools, what your total package will be won’t be known until March or April (or later).  What should you do in the meantime?  Let them know what you are projecting for them (if your financial aid office will allow you to do that), or at the very least let them know when they can expect to know what the final number is going to be.  According to our research, the exact details aren’t as important early on as you taking them through your thought process – step by step, and as soon as possible – in great detail.  That is a tangible way to show them you care, according to our studies.
  2. Heavy involvement in contacting and including their parents. While not universally true with every athlete we’ve interviewed in the past several months, a solid majority look at the way a coach interacts and consistently communicates with their parents. It is a sign that you are truly interested in getting them to your school.  If you’re a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies, you notice on a very regular basis that we design specific content and language that you should use in communicating with your parents. And, we know we often get questioned as to why we spend so much time creating relationships with the parents of recruits.  Well, this is the reason…it is very important to the athlete, and it’s an easy way to differentiate you from your competition in the mind of the parents (who have incredible influence over final decisions, if you’ve studied our recruiting resources).
  3. Clearly stating what you see needing to be done next in the process. Each of your recruits and their parents are actively looking for who is leading them through the process, and which coach is doing a good job of telling them – or asking them – what the next step should be.  A growing number of new college student-athletes that took part in our focus group research can look back to their recruiting experience and point to specific things their coach did to get them to the next step in the process.  They tell us it showed them that those coaches seemed to care more, and seemed more serious to them.  Note that I said seemed to care more…did they actually “care” more than their competition?  As Godin points out, that’s irrelevant.  They are looking for what seems to demonstrate caring and attention.  As I stated earlier, there’s an important difference there.

We make a point in our On-Campus Workshops to teach coaches that their prospects will look at the letters and emails they get to see if they “look” or “sound” any different than the last one they received, and how they seem to compare to other messages coaches sent them.  In other words, it’s not only the content that counts, but also the presentation.  The same can be said of your actions, and how you demonstrate you care more than your competition.

We can teach coaching staffs and athletic departments how to achieve higher levels of recruiting skills, and take pride in having positively affected the recruiting results at programs in every division level around the country.  Do you have questions about how to recruit more effectively?  Email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com or visit our website for a complete overview of services, resources and guides for serious college coaches.

How to Triple Your Office ProductivityFriday, September 14th, 2012

 

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

I was on the phone with a coach a few days ago who is the soccer coach at her school. She is the Sports Information Director and is teaching 2 classes this semester.  Not to mention, she is a wife who has 3 kids.  Understandably, she is already feeling overwhelmed. It is a week into the new school year and was seeking advice on how to fit in everything to her very jam packed day. It is tough enough for coaches who only have coaching and recruiting responsibilities. But there are many coaches who in addition to coaching and recruiting, have teaching and other administrative responsibilities on their plate.

I have had a lot of coaches contact me feeling stressed out and overwhelmed because there is so much to do and their job has pretty much become their life. Two of the techniques that I have been teaching these coaches are 1) categorize all of the work that they have to do and 2) block time in their schedule where they try to eliminate all distractions and focus on nothing but getting that particular work done.

For many years now, I have been organizing what I have to do in the office with this method. It’s been an ongoing learning process and, as I have found and tweaked what works and doesn’t work, I would estimate it has tripled my office productivity.

Here is how it works – Using the Green Time Management Planner, I keep it simple and set up five blocks of time during the day to work on specific things.  These are the five blocks that I use based on my job responsibilities.  You can set up as many blocks as needed based on your specific tasks.

Block One- Planning

Block one is my planning block. I do it first before I even turn on my computer.  I first start with deciding who I am going to reach out to that day and write it down in my Green Time Management Planner for Coaches. I reach out with the purpose of building or starting a relationship with somebody on campus, a coach, a parent, a booster, etc.  As soon as I turn on my computer, I crank out that email before I do anything else.  I can say with all honesty by reaching out to just one person a day like I have been doing, it has probably reduced our recruiting process time in half.

Next, I start creating or adding to my to-do list for the day.  One of the problems I have found with To-Do Lists is that they tend to lump all the items into one big long list without any order or structure. Starting at the top and working your way down is not always the best way to get things done. As you write down more and more things to do, your To-Do list becomes bigger and more chaotic, and pretty soon you get lost in all of the details.

What I have done to overcome this issue is to separate the tasks into 4 categories: Team, Administrative, Personal, and Recruiting on my Green Time Management Planner for Coaches daily pages.  I have found that when I take my tasks and arrange them in categories, it’s much easier and efficient to do related tasks one after another, rather than interspersing them with un-related tasks.

Before I get into writing down all of the busy things that need to get done, I first strategically think about and make note of the things I could do during the day to move my program forward in each of those categories.  Activities that I believe will help develop my program become priority number one. These items gets done first when I get to the block of time during the day that I have allocated for each category.

Block 2- Recruiting Time

The recruiting time I take each day will depend on what time of year it is and how much there is to do.  Some days I only need a half hour to do all of the recruiting things I need to do, but most days I work on recruiting for at least the first hour of the day.  During this time, my staff and I focus on nothing but recruiting our future team.  We may set up our recruiting plan for next month, analyze how our recruiting is going this month, write and send letters and recruiting emails, plan phone call questions, schedule on-campus visits, etc.  I try to do all of my recruiting tasks first thing in the morning when I have the most energy and am least likely to get interrupted.

Block 3- Team time

During this time I am reading, planning, strategizing, and thinking how to make my team better.  I am calling and talking to other coaches, planning practice, scouting up-coming opponents, etc.

Block 4- Administration time.

During my administrative time, I get my paperwork done, schedule games, do game reports, compliance, camp stuff, and go to meetings, etc.

Block 5- Personal time

Every 45 to 60 minutes, I schedule 15 minutes to get up and walk around a little bit or I sit down on the floor in my office and stretch.  I use this 15 minutes to “recharge my batteries” and it has been a tremendous help in keeping my energy consistent throughout the day. I also block 30 minutes for exercise, and some lunch time.

How much time I block out on my calendar will depend on how much work I have to do in each category.  Setting a time for each block gives me a deadline and gets me working faster than I would if I just start working on something and have an “I will finish it when I finish” it mentality.

I have been setting up my days this way for quite a while now and have really loved the results I’ve gotten.  I have spent the last four years creating a college coach specific Day Planner and a Time Management Workbook to go with it. If you would like me to help you get the same results or want to look at the Planner and Workbook check out my website at www.mandygreencps.com or email me at mandy@mandygreencps.com .

Mandy Green is a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly, and is a Division I head soccer coach.  Coaches around the country know her as a premier expert on organization and coaching, and she is the developer of the Green Time Management System College Coaches.

 

My First Month Working at NCSASaturday, September 8th, 2012

 

By Ellen Sawin, NCSA Athletic Recruiting

Preseason… as a Division-I volleyball player, this time of year used to mean moving back to school, reuniting with my best friends and being so sore that I refused to go anywhere that had stairs. But now that I’ve graduated, preseason has a different meaning.

This preseason I started a career at NCSA Athletic Recruiting.

I had no desire to leave college athletics behind, so after graduation I applied to NCSA. I got an interview, and the job!  On my first day I walked into the plain brick and mortar building, and headed to the 4th floor. As I looked around I realized how much the environment instantly felt like home.

As I was taken on a tour I could see that every employee’s desk displayed their University’s logo. All of the employees are proud of where they went to school and their careers during their time as student-athletes. I loved walking around and seeing the variety of schools, from small NAIA/D-3 schools to the powerhouses from the Big 10 and Pac-12. The next stop on my tour was the main conference room. They call it “the Arena,” which is ideal for former athletes. Not to mention the other conference rooms, “the Dugout” and “the Bleachers.”

During my first couple days I did typical on-the-job training, but it was made much more exciting by the ringing of the bell. Sounds like an obnoxious concept, but it’s quite the contrary. In the center of the office there is a brass bell. Every time an NCSA athlete commits to a college team the recruiting coach that has worked with them walks over to the bell with them still on the phone and rings it! The result is indescribable!  The office goes nuts, clapping and cheering to celebrate the great news with the student-athlete. Although I am not in the office every hour of every day, since I started just 3 weeks ago, that bell has rung 1,457 times.

It’s pretty clear that NCSA isn’t the typical office setting. After all it’s not filled with suits and ties, it’s filled with over 300 former college athletes and coaches who have a passion for sports. This passion was evident at my first team “huddle”, or company meeting. I listened to former NFL players, an Ivy League standout and many more, who are now NCSA employees. They talked about the teamwork and success of NCSA, and what it takes to be the best. It didn’t feel like I was in a meeting, it felt like I was in the locker room getting ready for the big game. They spoke with the most heartfelt and fervent pregame pep-talks.

Now I’m a part of the big game that NCSA plays in every day. Working with some of the most dedicated high school athletes across the nation to help them find the perfect school for them; and with the coaches to find the athletes that their school and program need. I don’t have a job, I have a position. A position on a team that is passing along the irreplaceable experience of playing collegiate sports. For a video tour of the NCSA offices click here.

Ellen Sawin is a recent graduate from the University of Evansville, where she was a 4 year starter and 2 year team captain of the University’s D-1 volleyball team. As a volleyball player she was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman team, and was named to multiple All-Tournament teams. She was UE’s 2012 Female Student-Athlete of the year. During her time at UE she was also the President of the University’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.), and was UE’s female representative on the Missouri Valley Conference SAAC. Ellen now works for NCSA Athletic Recruiting in the College Relations Department.  To learn more about NCSA Athletic Recruiting and the free database of verified prospects that coaches can access 24/7, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it Time to Answer the Objection?Monday, September 3rd, 2012

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