by Greg Carroll, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
As one of the team of expert consultants at Tudor Collegiate Strategies, I have the pleasure to work with many coaches across the northeast who oversee sports across the intercollegiate spectrum. With that comes the satisfaction of hearing from coaches who get commitments from their top recruits and coaches who locked in the last recruit of their best class ever. I love getting those emails!
The only thing that tops those moments is when I see entire departments coming together and really collaborating on the recruiting conversation. As an organization, Tudor Collegiate Strategies is now working with more entire athletic departments than ever before. The result for those departments is being felt in ways that go beyond measuring success in wins and losses.
We know student athletes bring a variety of attributes to the colleges they attend, the least of which is not the leadership skills they take to the dorms they live in, the classes they attend, the community they reside in, and the campus activities they participate in. The more athletes on a campus the stronger the entire institution. Others on campus notice the number of athletic department jackets, hoodies, hats, and shirts are in the classroom, at the dining hall, or walking across campus while the admissions staff are conducting tours or open houses. At that point, campus administrators begin to view the value of their athletic department differently. As an AD I always argued that there are a lot of good reasons to invest in your student athletes because they’re going to stay at your school, they’re going to get good grades, they will be leaders, and if you do it right you’re going to have competitive success and the resulting publicity that goes with winning championships and going to the NCAA’s.
But winning recruiting doesn’t follow the ”build it and they will come “ line from the movie “Field of Dreams.” I’m likely preaching to the choir here but successful recruiting is a process and the more stakeholders vested in that process the greater the return. Hence, the return we see when we work with full departments is, well, HUGE!
For example, earlier this year we enlisted an entire athletic department here in the northeast. The initial roll out to an entire department starts the same way as it does with an individual client. One difference with an entire department is we spend a couple days on campus getting to know the staff as well as the school and we do a couple days of training with coaches talking about the “why” we do what we do and how that information can deeply impact the success of the other services they get from our organization as clients.
While we have ongoing conversations with departments in the same way we do with single clients we visit department clients a second time, several months into the contract to see how it’s going. When I visited this particular department a few months into the contract it was a totally different experience than my first visit.
Maybe the clearest change was simply the fact that the assistant athletic director had begun hosting once month brown bag lunches where the coaches would talk about what they were studying in Tudor University, the latest College Recruiting Weekly Podcast or one of the recent Honey Badger Recruiting training articles and how they could implement some of the ideas presented there. They were also sharing problems and challenges and more importantly finding solutions instead of throwing up their hands. When I met them on the first visit the glass was not only half empty and was running dry.
There were subtle differences as well. One of the points I emphasize is that transformative recruiting transcends a single program. If you want the entire department to prosper coaches have to be committed to the success of everyone’s program, not just their own. What I saw at this school on my second visit were coaches greeting and assisting recruits from programs other than their own. I mean, really engaging with them, asking questions about classes, talking to parents, sharing their experiences about the school. It felt like getting a commitment from the recruit was as important to that coach as it was to the coach of the program they were considering. That doesn’t happen organically. It has to be a conscious decision to make that kind of customer service a priority.
An even more subtle difference I saw on this campus was what I saw in the coaches when I met with them individually. They were happy! The reason for that was simple. They were now hearing more “yes’s” than “no’s” and that is very affirming. The investment they made in their professional development around recruiting was paying off and suddenly life was easier. They were stressing less about getting their class filled, they didn’t feel like they were in it alone – they were supported by their peers and the entire department. There was a synergy around the department that had spread from coach to coach and team to team.
You simply cannot put a price on the value of people looking happy, wearing department apparel, socially engaging with each other when recruits are passing through your buildings. If office doors are closed, faces hidden behind screens, and heads down glued to a cell phone are what recruits (and their parents) see when visiting the message sent isn’t one of warmth and collaboration.
I saw this when my daughter was visiting colleges. She would immediately pick up on whether the people there looked happy. And if they didn’t we were on the road and that school was off the list. She said, “If the people getting paid to be there aren’t happy, how are the students paying tuition to go there going to be happy?” I couldn’t argue with her!
A lot of great things can happen for a program when the entire athletic department comes together to create a winning recruiting environment. All it takes is a conscious effort to work across programs to assure a great campus experience not just for your recruit but for EVERY recruit.
Greg Carroll is a former coach and college athletic director, now part of the team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies who works with departments and individual coaching programs to create a more effective recruiting strategy and message that goes out to recruits. The results we’re able to see are impressive, which is why hundreds of college coaches staffs make us a part of their team. For more information, email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out if it might be the right fit for you.