You know that athlete on your team that always has to work a little harder than everyone else to get the job done? Typically they’ll have the dirtiest uniform, ask the most questions, and be there practicing the skill taught that day when everyone else has left for the locker room.
I was that guy then and I’ll admit that work ethic followed me from the playing field, to the classroom, and throughout my professional career. I’ve always gone overboard in preparation whether it was for a race I was training for as a cross country athlete, a test I was studying for, or even now preparing for a workshop you might find me doing on your campus! I’ve always exhausted every ounce of opportunities to get ready.
A good example is my arrival to the team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies. As an 18 year DIII athletic director I felt I was pretty well equipped to work with coaches and other AD’s on best practices related to recruiting. My school had been a client of TCS for several years so I was very familiar with their practices. And then I delved into Tudor University and saw how much more there was to learn. And I continue to learn as I work with Dan and the other team members at TCS as well as the terrific coaches I work with each day. My Tudor University binder literally has hundreds of pages of notes, highlights on every page, notes in the margins, and dogeared pages. It clearly shows the vast use it has gotten.
In terms of recruiting are you taking advantage of every opportunity to land your best class ever? That may be an unfair question if you haven’t already thought about what some of those things might be. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- At the top of the list has to be connecting with your recruits parents. You’re probably tired of hearing all of us at TCS talking about this. But it may be the single most important variable related to whether or not you get that commitment. Write them, call them, text them, follow them in social media. … Why do coaches hold back engaging parents? Because they are afraid the parents will take that interest as an invitation to insert themselves into your program. Our response to that is simple. If the recruit does choose your program you can redefine the parent relationship. If you lose the because you failed to engage – you’ll never get that chance.
- Over time I became a very good test taker. My strategy centered on finding ways to answer questions using the content I had studied and felt confident about. When you ask your recruits questions, be strategic about what you are asking. It goes with the saying “don’t ever ask someone how they’re feeling unless you’re ready for the answer!” If your school has a really low faculty:student ratio, ask the recruit (and their parents) how important is an environment where they will have great access to instructors. That is the window that allows you to bring up your data. Do this for all those things you want to talk about but make them feel as though THEY brought it up. Find ways to talk about your strengths and let your recruits think they went there on their own!
- If you have ever served on a search committee I’m sure you have seen more than your share of applicants who did virtually no prep work in advance. They’re the candidate who has applied for every opening in their field from South Dakota to South Carolina. And then there is the candidate who knows your faculty student ratio, they mention several figures connected to undergraduate outcomes, they know your offense and defense and can identify your program’s strengths AND your weaknesses. Which one are you going to hire? Your recruits and their parents will be impressed by the work you do to get to know them beyond the obvious data on an NCSA profile. If you fail to do the work on the front end to find out “who” your recruits are, their impression will be that you are just like the job applicant who really knows nothing about your institution.
- When I was an AD we had countless “staging meetings.” We had staging meetings prior to playing that sport’s first home contest to go over all the details, We had staging meetings before hosting playoffs, NCAA Tourney events, etc. And along the lines of the previous point, I staged things when I was interviewing candidates for open on campus. I wanted to be sure what they saw while they were in our buildings represented who we were. A picture of your team celebrating a championship clearly sends one message while a picture of your team doing a service project sends another. Both have a role in defining your program’s culture. If you are not thinking intentionally about those kinds of messages I’m encouraging you to do so. What books will they see in your bookcase? If you claim to be a family friendly program, how prominent are pictures of your family?
- Maybe the most important thing we do right from the very beginning of our work with a client is we ask the younger athletes on that team about their recruiting experience and how they feel about the school presently. As a third party entering that discussion it’s no surprise that the information WE get is much different from what they might tell their coach.
My point is that it is essential to know your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as they relate to your recruiting and the best one to tell you are your athletes.
Greg Carroll is a former college athletic director, and consultant for Tudor Collegiate Strategies. Our proprietary focus group study with clients’ athletes is the key that opens the door to winning campus visits, identifying important talking points, and things to avoid on your campus during the recruiting process. Click here to discover how we work with coaching staffs around the country, one on one, to help them solve these important questions.