Application Strategy for Athletic Recruit?

Question for you veterans:

After you have accepted an offer in exchange for applying early decision, do you still apply to safety schools under early action or regular decision “just in case”?

All of this is new to me, and while we trust the coaches we are dealing with, it’s still so scary. If it helps, son is looking at D1, ivies, and a high academic D3 (all in preread right now).

Thank you.

Yes, the wait until the ED athletic recruit acceptance is in hand can be stressful!

D19 was a D3 athletic recruit and applied to a rolling admission school and several EA schools, and had two acceptances in hand before she received her ED acceptance. Took a little of the stress off for sure…but just a little!!

So, I would definitely encourage your S to apply to a rolling admission and/or EA school for a back up plan. For most schools’ EDI rounds you will find out the decision between Dec 1 and 15, so you would have enough time to get RD apps in after that (or EDII), should things not play out like you expect.

Good luck!

Okay - got it. This is the first time I’ve read this advice, everything we’ve seen is all about “the offer” and early decision. But, my worried mind keeps me up at night!

We have an early action safety in mind in-state, but need to target a rolling admission school.

Thank you!

Yes, I think it’s always good to have a backup plan. For the Ivies, they can’t send out likely letters until Oct. 1, then acceptances mid Dec. So you do have some time to recover if needed. With an Ivy LL in hand you’re as much as admitted assuming no arrests or anything else that’d mess up an admission.

@politeperson thanks - while I’m confident my child is a good boy, my imagination goes wild with what could go wrong, really on either side. This covid-19 situation is so unprecedented, it seems like we should expect the unexpected.

If you had to game out the covid situation with college athletics, would you guess that power D1’s or Ivies are better equipped to get through this? Are high academic D3’s in better shape? In other words, who is unlikely to cut sports? This is one of the myriad possibilities that keep us up at night.

Just imo, it makes a difference to know which sport.
And athletic departments and how well funded they are by sponsors or alumni boosters, or conference tv $, varies, whether D3 or power football conference. Can get some idea from each college’s athletic department, student newspaper, or even from the conference, whether financial difficulties may be looming.

@Hippobirdy wrestling!

@Hippobirdy the Ivies that are in the mix we know are well funded by donors according to conversations with the coaches. But, still, we know that’s not a guarantee. The other schools are in the ACC and EIWA.

I think Ivies are least likely to cut sports for financial reasons as they generally aren’t funded by large TV contracts, gate receipts and the like. (And I know Brown just cut several sports but that was ostensibly for non financial reasons). Just my opinion though.

Having said that, I think your approach of being prepared for the unexpected this year is wise.

@dadof4kids has great knowledge of wrestling recruiting. It’s worth looking at some of his past posts.

@politeperson that was my inclination as well - but it’s good to hear it affirmed by someone else!

@dadof4kids has been my go-to since last summer throughout this whole process! So much to learn, thank goodness there are people who have been through this and are willing to share advice.

@NovaMom93 have you seen TCNJ is cancelling 7 high contact sports this fall due to COVID.

@Hippobirdy yikes, no. Does canceling mean just for this year? Or forever?

Our state is toying with the idea of pushing all high school sports until late December.

Winter sports would run from late December to late February. Traditional fall sports would run mid-February to early May, and traditional spring sports running from early April to late June.

At least they’re trying.

Just this fall. I thought teamusa website was interesting for having news from other regions, too.
“ The TCNJ athletics program has enjoyed great success and is a source of pride in the campus community. There is hope that with new guidance, reductions in cases, and evidence that we can safely return to a full athletics program in the spring semester. ” from President’s statement.

@Hippobirdy It will be interesting to see what the ivy league does this fall - and since they do not redshirt or give medical waivers easily, the season/year may be lost. We shall see. I totally get that kids go ivy for the primarily for the education, but this will be a tough pill for the existing line-ups.

@NovaMom93 Have you seen June 11 update guidance, “Return to the Mat” Guidelines? By USA Wrestling.

Depends on whether public health authorities allow training facilities to open to small groups(Phase 3: Public health authorities allow small group activities limited by number of participants…”Direct and indirect contact between athletes is permitted if approved by state and local health officials”)

Or when a location is in Phase 4: “Public health authorities allow public training facilities to open, no limitations on group size”…“Drilling and other contact drills ok (recommend gradual progression and built in rest/active recovery day)”

My take on potential cuts, which is probably worth what you paid for it.

First re: post #13, my guess is that those kids would get an extra year from NCAA. You might have to use your last year of eligibility at Michigan or Wisconsin as a grad student instead of Harvard, but my guess is if the season is canceled entirely then NCAA would consider that a redshirt year.

My opinion is that a lot of wrestling (and other non-revenue) programs are in jeopardy, especially if there isn’t a fall football season.

I’m stepping out of my wrestling lane a bit here but this is my reasoning on football. Due to creative accounting designed to bolster the argument that college football players shouldn’t be paid, most football programs technically lose money. But the reality is that at least in D1 most football and to a lesser extent basketball programs end up funding the bulk of the athletic department. They already took a huge hit missing the basketball tourney this spring. If they lose fall football revenue, we are looking at major cuts. Any non revenue sport anywhere is in jeopardy, probably at any Power 5 school especially due to the dollars lost. Big 10 may be a bit safer for wrestling than the other conferences since it is a major sport there.

The Ivies have deeper pockets and less revenue from football so maybe a bit less risk. My sense is that there would be major alumni donor fallout from wrestling getting cut at Cornell, Penn or Princeton. They all have wealthy alums who care about the program and they have good teams currently. Brown, Columbia and Harvard probably less so but I’m not sure. The fact that Brown just had major cuts and wrestling was unscathed might be an indication that it is safer than I realize. And maybe there is a big donor at those schools who is a wrestling booster, I’m not that familiar with their programs. But they seem a lower priority for the schools than the first 3.

At the type of schools rarely discussed here, those struggling with admission numbers, wresting might actually be ok. Again the official accounting doesn’t show this, but at a D2 or D3 or NAIA school that is essentially open admission, the wrestling team effectively adds 15-20 students, who fill empty dorm beds and pay tuition. They usually are run as less well funded programs with worse facilities and less travel, so they are less expensive than D1. I know at least some administrators understand this, although probably not all. The trend has actually been for growth at this level recently.

Regardless of what happens with football, academically selective schools at all competition levels outside of the Ivies or P5 conferences are probably at the most risk. Their pockets usually aren’t as deep. So if there are financial problems, wrestling is a (comparatively) painless thing to cut.

If Williams or Chicago cuts wrestling, there isn’t a revenue loss, the wrestlers will be easily replaced with other students. So it’s a bit more clear that it’s a net positive financially to cut the program at schools who already turn away qualified applicants. Probably the schools with smaller endowments are actually more likely to do this than Williams or Chicago.

I think the other and maybe biggest risk at all levels is the notion of shared pain. If there are layoffs and cuts to academic programs, there will be pressure for the athletic department to also make cuts. Wrestlers are more likely to come from the blue collar ranks rather than the donor class. Some may get there eventually, but squash or soccer or tennis teams (other non revenue sports) are more likely to have donors who care and parents who will throw a fit than the wrestlers.

This isn’t a perfect indicator, but generally teams who are doing well are in that position because they are supported by the administration. If they are a regularly finishing in the bottom of the conference, they probably aren’t a priority at the school. That applies to all sports, not just wresting.

I’m going to tag @Ohiodad51 and see if he has anything to add, he knows a lot about wrestling and is more knowledgeable about the big picture of college athletics than I am.

As to the original question, I think it depends on how confident you are. If it is an Ivy with a likely letter, as said above that is basically an admission. Anything your son does to screw that up would probably get him rescinded from any school.

If it is anyone else, I think it depends a bit on how secure you feel about your situation. I have probably posted this more than a dozen times, but YOU need to ask the coach how secure it is. Don’t rely on your son for this, I’m sure he’s a great kid but 17 year olds sometimes hear what they want to hear. The coach at the school son went to was careful to not tell me anything that would get him in trouble with crossing the line that admissions has the final say. Having said that, it was pretty clear that it would be a really big deal if they gave him a green light to give an offer and then didn’t admit the student. He said looking at S’s info there wouldn’t be any issues, but if admissions did have any issues they would let him know in July at the preread so we could make an informed decision on whether to apply. His preread came back clean (which the coach told us it would) so at that point we were trusting that the coach was telling us the truth that admissions was essentially a rubber stamp.

Probably it is good to have a backup of some sort in place. S didn’t fill out any other apps or really give any thought to a back up plan. He did tell other coaches that he was currently committed to _____, but if anything changed he would let them know. Most told him that they would still be interested if things fell through. If he had gotten a surprising no in ED, he would have gotten on the phone and seen who still had a spot for him RD. I’m pretty sure a couple of them would have rearranged things to take him. YMMV on that I guess. It depends a bit on the wrestling level he is at and what your priorities are. S would only have gone to another school he could wrestle at, so there wasn’t much point applying to a safety. He had the luxury of being a high enough recruit I’m 99% sure he would have found either a coach to support him in RD at a high academic school or a scholarship for him at a school where that is more important than the admission help.

I didn’t think that many people filled out any apps other than the one for ED, but maybe I’m wrong about that. Now if you are talking about MIT or Chicago or Haverford, places where coach support is much more shaky, that’s a different story.

I agree pretty much with everything @dadof4kids says about the big picture. My only real disagreement is that those wrestling programs that still exist (after the great purge in the 80s-90s) I think are relatively secure. One, because wrestling is not a very expensive sport.
You need very little equipment, you are not travelling huge squads and support staff, and wrestlers eat very little ;). Two, mullets are crazy tribal and they take care of their own. Generally when a wrestling program is threatened you will see a big push from the alums to keep it funded. I think wrestling participation has been relatively stable this century, and I would assume that would continue.

On the big picture stuff, I think you are focusing on the wrong things tbh. Schools in the Ivy are not cutting sports because they have to, various schools are just making decisions on how they want to allocate their resources. Not so at a place like the University of Akron, which just cut three D1 teams, in an effort to offset what they say is a general anticipated operating loss of $60,000,000-$70,000,000. Brown has an endowment of about $4.2 billion dollars or $400,000 per student, Akron has a total endowment of $219 million, which is about $10,000 per student. Clearly, these places are light years apart in how they are structured to respond to our current situation. FWIW, I also think that the putting “butts in the seats” point is an astute one, and again an area where the metrics at Brown (8.5% acceptance rate) and Akron (92.5% acceptance rate) are vastly different. And I think generally the relative position of each school vis non revenue sports has a lot more to do with general financial health and selectivity (for lack of a better word) than athletic division. Amherst (11.8% acceptance rate, $2.5B endowment) probably doesn’t really care how much their athletic department costs, as long as they beat Williams. Otterbein, with a 76% acceptance rate and a $93 million dollar endowment, probably does care.

By the way, Akron has not cut its football team, which consistently draws some of the fewest fans in D1 (111th out of 130 last year) and which plays in a beautiful, wholly over sized and massively expensive stadium. Maybe an unrelated point, but schools who play football in the MAC conference, like Akron, are estimated to receive about $850,000 per year from the new TV deal the conference signed with ESPN last year, the largest in the conference’s history. It would not surprise me if conversely the Ivy League president was required to pick up the post negotiations tab at Peter Luger’s as thanks to ESPN for consenting to put the Ivy League on ESPN+.

The MAC deal is chump change when compared to places like the SEC or BIG. The BIG signed a 6 year TV deal in 2018 that pays each of its schools about $50 million a year. The SEC’s TV deal pays out about $35 million a year to each school, but the SEC is currently in negotiations for a new deal, so they won’t be so “poor” for very long. These deals are based almost entirely on football, and to a lesser extent men’s basketball. The cynic in me says that because of numbers like this, the NCAA and the P5 will do everything in their power to have a football season, because otherwise they will lose an insane amount of revenue (Sports Illustrated estimated $4 billion dollars). If that happens, the impact on athletic departments in general will have to be immense, and people will likely realize exactly how much money is really being generated off of young, mostly poor, mostly minority kids who by the way often leave school after their eligibility is exhausted with either a degree in a “soft” major or no degree at all. I doubt the NCAA wants the general public to focus on exactly how “student athlete-centric” they really are.

As to your specific situation, I sympathize, as I know @dadof4kids does, because we have both been where you are. I honestly do not know that there is an answer for it, and I think at some point an athlete and a parent need to trust the recruiting coach. It sucks, and it is a huge part of why I have always advocated the parent trying to take a sober, cautious look at the big picture when going through this process.

My son was not as highly recruited as @dadof4kids’ son was, but he did have a few other options where he could have been happy had things fallen apart at his chosen school. I encouraged him to stay in contact with his second and third choice schools during the time between his verbal commitment (early July before his senior season) and receipt of his likely letter, which he did try to do but which frankly also became harder and harder to maintain as time went on. He was fortunate that he really liked one particular NESCAC school, where the coach had promised he could land if things didn’t work out in the Ivy. This made things somewhat easier. All of that said, there were some problems with likely letters being delayed at his school in his cycle, so we had some “heated negotiations” in early November about reaching out to one of the other two Ivys he had been staying in some form of contact with, and/or preparing an ED application to the NESCAC school before the ED deadline. His position was that he trusted the coach, mine was that I wanted him to eventually leave the house. We finally settled on he could wait until Thanksgiving break, and then if the likely letter didn’t arrive he could either put in an application and make a couple phone calls or I would slowly flay him alive. Luckily for both of us his letter came through the week before Thanksgiving.

A few years ago at a family dinner my brother in law was talking about how great the college a few blocks away from his house was and that my kids should look at it. I may have dropped an F bomb and said no kid of mine is even considering that school until _________, their AD, is fired. I then gave him a list of a few details about the wrestling program they cut, how it was done (the coach received a phone call on his drive home from winning a national championship), and how much more the students were currently paying to fund the money hemmoraging athletic department than they were previously to fund the AD’s vanity project of moving them to D1 when they didn’t belong there or have the funds for it. My speech was a bit longer than that, and a couple F bombs were placed. BTW, in the 30 years I have been with my wife, I don’t think I have even heard anyone else even say damn at the table.

So yeah, you may have a point about the mullets getting crazy tribal when someone threatens their program. :smiley:

If an entire season is lost, the NCAA doesn’t have to issue an exception because the athlete would have 5 years to play 4. However, the NCAA may issue the exception for time and the athlete might have 2 years of grad school to play, and we’d end up with some pretty old college athletes.

My daughter made the decision to only apply to one school. She was accepted in October, signed her NLI in November, but she knew that if anything went wrong she’d have to take a gap year. That almost happened when in February she received the merit award and it was $5000 less than we expected. We were able to straighten that out and she went off to school in August. She put a lot into finding that school and was just DONE with the search, so didn’t want to do any more applications and didn’t want to have to pick again. She is a person who has trouble making decisions so it worked better for her to eliminate the options. She also took the first job she interviewed for and when other companies called her for interviews, she said no, she was happy where she was.