When you publish your admissions guide, may I suggest that you include this question and answer:
I got a letter or an email from the coach at Notre Dame / Dartmouth / Kenyon / Tufts / (name the school). Does that mean that I’m sure to get in at that school, or likely to get an athletic scholarship?
Sorry, no. The email or letter from the coach means little more than the post card you get from a school’s admissions office after you take the SAT or PSAT. Coaches send out thousands of these emails or letters, collecting names from many sources. High school coaches get mailings from every college under the sun, asking if they want to recommend a player. Some coaches will fill these out willy-nilly. They have a smart basketball player (80th in a class of 500) who is the third best player on his team? They may recommend him to Dartmouth and Brown (in his mind, the Ivy League basketball teams aren’t that great). I can remember when I was in college in the football staff office, and looking through some of these forms sent by high school coaches. I could clearly see that they were recommending kids who based on their size and 40-yard-dash times, didn’t stand a chance at playing in the Ivy League. My roommate was doing the mailings as a work study, and was told to mail to anyone whose form reported a minimum academic profile.
Kids who email the coach or fill out the online form on the athletic web iste also are added to these lists. Alumni recommend kids and they are added to these mailing lists.
The first step to truly being recruited usually begins with a phone call from the coach or a coach shaking your hand at a summer event. That is only the beginning of the trail, however. Coaches evaluate recruits carefully. They court many, and dump most.
Also, bear in mind that Division III schools give out no athletic scholarships, nor do the Ivy League schools. The coaches at these schools have a limited number of admissions slots reserved for their team (athletes that they can get past admissions who they want and meet certain academic parameters), and these slots are coveted.