by Dan Christensen, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
Coach, I am sure you have run into this situation before:
You spend months if not years recruiting an athlete. It seems to be going well. You have a strong relationship with the athlete and their parents. They are a perfect fit for your program and have given many indicators you are a top choice for them.
Near the end of the process, a school that maybe has a better reputation as a successful program comes in and offers this athlete a spot on their team. Maybe with a scholarship, maybe not. But your recruit is thrilled that such a prestigious program has offered them and so they accept the offer and you are now out of the picture.
What could you have done differently to prevent this from happening? Here are two ways to try and combat this situation from happening to you:
1) Walk through this scenario with your recruit early on
Without negatively bashing another specific program, you can let the recruit and their family know what you have seen happen before. Help them realize that when they get this late offer out of the blue, without any previous relationship with that coach, it often means the recruit was not a serious choice for them and is now just helping them fill out the bottom of their roster.
You can explain how you prefer to do things and how serious you are about this recruit. But do not be afraid to ask them about this scenario. Specifically, how would they feel about getting an offer like this?
And you can recognize that it might be a great school, with a great program, and a great coach. But, does the recruit feel that prestige and name-recognition is a top priority for them? If it absolutely is, maybe that is a red flag for you as to whether their personality and priorities will be a fit in your program.
If instead they understand this situation better now and respect how highly you think of them because you walked them through this scenario, when the other coach comes in late, your prospect will be more aware. Will it work 100% of the time? No. But, it will certainly make them think about their choices more thoroughly instead of just accepting this late offer on the spot!
2) Establish a fair but firm deadline with your recruits
Setting up a deadline for when you will wrap up recruiting gives some added value to the spots you have to offer. If you establish early on that you will not just wait forever for their decision, it gives an added boost to how serious your program is.
When you set this timeline in advance and remind your prospects of it consistently, it does not come across as pressure but rather guidance.
When you are deciding when to set this deadline, think about previous years when maybe this scenario of other teams swooping in has happened. If you notice it happens often in say, March or April, maybe set your deadline for February. This gives you the opportunity to finalize your roster before other higher-level teams have the chance to come in and try to sway your recruits to just fill in their roster.