Ivy League recruiting

Isn’t there a dad who’s son was recruited to several ivys? So sorry I can’t remember exactly who it is.

I’ve been surprised by how much coaches are diving deep into the youngest kids and making offers - freshman and sophomores. Have coaches done pre reads on them or is the offer “as long as you hit x gpa and x score you will have my support?” I’d expect sophomores to be getting offers from other D1s where a coach can get anyone in but I am just surprised by how much Ivy League coaches are on that schedule.

Trying to figure out where to put effort that has a reasonable chance of paying off. So wondering about the timeline.

There is no offer, despite the colloquial terms used by coaches, students, and parents. No offer is made by anyone other than admissions, and admissions is not making offers before senior year.

The coach is basically saying, “If you achieve grades and scores of xyz, and if you pass the admissions preread after junior year, it’s very likely you have a spot here.”

There is no “commitment,” again despite colloquial usage. Nothing is binding or set in stone, either by the coach or the student; either is free to change their mind.


The ivy league coaches use a “likely letter”. Getting a LL is almost 100% guarantee of acceptance. But these are not given out to all recruits, and is only done in the fall of senior year.

Anything before that time is just verbal banter - nothing more. The rules are a bit different for non-Ivies.

Coaches have nothing to do with likely letters, they only come from admissions AFTER the student-athlete has applied (which is obviously after the coach has made recruiting decisions). Not all fully supported athletic recruits receive LLs (usually due to getting the app in too close to the decision date).

What people generally refer to as an ‘offer’ from Ivy league schools is a verbal offer from the coach for the student to ‘commit to the process’. ‘Process’ being the admissions process for a recruited athlete. As ski said above these offers aren’t binding on either the coach or student.

In terms of timing you have to figure out each coach’s behaviors, whether or not they even consider trying to get freshman and sophs (which is prohibited in certain sports like softball) to commit to the process. Some sports and/or coaches tend to move earlier than others.

Coaches typically do tell the student they need to get X GPA and/or X test score, as well as continue to progress in the sport to earn a fully supported slot. Students do fall out of the process for poor grades, or lack of progression in the sport.

Pre-reads usually happen junior year summer, but coaches are generally quite facile understanding what stats a student will need to secure a positive pre-read/admissions. There is far more latitude academically at most of the Ivies than at some of the NESCACs, for example.

These ‘offers’ also may disappear if there is a coaching change because many new coaches will not honor the previous coaches’ commitments…so the earlier an athlete commits to the process, the greater the risk of a coaching change happening.

I am sure @coffeeat3 has additional insights


Again, the Likely Letter comes from admissions, not the coaches, although coaches do have input on who they want the LL’s sent to. And the LL is only sent once the student has submitted a completed application which is generally due 9/30 of senior year. Unless the student us the GOAT in the sport, it is unlikely that they will receive coach support without the application being submitted ED/REA.

My responses are specific to the 8 Ivy unis, which is the question posed by OP. Other athletic leagues/unis/divisions may have different procedures.

Our experience was in line with what’s stated above from @Mwfan1921 and @skieurope.

We didn’t observe much difference between the Ivy, NESCAC, or Centennial processes. For us, no official pre-reads happened before late summer/early fall of senior year. But, the coach had transcripts and scores long before that. We got the impression that there aren’t many surprises on the pre-reads.
Some coaches were aggressive in trying to get an early commit, but none were overbearing or impolite. Again, as mentioned, expect to be asked to commit and apply ED/SCEA, if this goes all the way.

There were two notable exceptions to these generalizations for us - MIT and CMU. For these schools, coach support carried less weight in the admissions process. I’m astonished that MIT and CMU field
such good teams when the coach has so little control over who s/he ends up with.

At MIT, the recruit will be asked to apply EA (no commitment). At CMU, we had to submit a pre-application through a special admissions portal (also, no commitment required). At both, the athlete gets a boost in his/her chances in the admission process (kind of like an enhanced EC), but, ultimately, admissions makes the call. At CMU, the athlete gets one of three possible results from the admissions pre-app - a ‘likely letter’, an ‘encouragement to apply’, or a ‘you might do better elsewhere’ letter. The best part about CMU was that there was no pressure whatsoever. Even with a likely letter in hand, there was no obligation to apply ED, or at all. It was the most student-centric and mature process we participated in. The coach and likely letter were focused on encouraging the student to explore CMU and decide if it’s right for them. The recruit then still has to apply through the normal process to get an official decision.

I should add that both MIT and CMU were up front about the process and the fact that there are no guarantees.


The timeline varies a lot by sport so you’d probably get more sport-specific advice if you mention the sport. I know that can be hard if trying to maintain anonymity but just be aware that women’s lacrosse and mens track are going to have completely different timelines.

Having said that, Ivy rules are uniform across sports. No pre-reads by admissions prior to July 1 after Junior year. No likely letters sent until Oct 1 and after all application materials are submitted (although there are exceptions to that if a recruit has other offers).

None of that prevents a coach from looking through a recruit’s academic record prior to July 1 and making an educated assessment of how the pre-read will go. Experienced Ivy coaches are good at that and don’t waste their time on recruits that won’t pass a pre-read.

There’s also nothing preventing a coach from reaching a decision prior to July 1 about who to support with admissions. That happens in some sports.

As mentioned by Mwfan, the terms offer and commitment have specific meanings when used in the athletic recruiting context vs admissions, job recruiting, etc. That doesn’t mean that they are meaningless. It’s very meaningful if a coach offers to use her limited support, roster spot, etc. for a recruit. Sure, it is not an offer of admission. But for most recruits getting the coach to want you is the biggest piece of the puzzle, and a coach isn’t going to make that offer without a high level of confidence that admission will happen. And the commitment by a recruit is effectively signaling that the recruit has landed the spot they want and isn’t actively looking. Yes, none of it legally binding. But then neither is an engagement and that has some meaning.

Football is a different story with offers being handed out like candy by some programs and only a few of them commitable. I don’t know if that’s happening so much in Ivies.

Anyway, just be aware that there are the formal rules and timelines and I don’t think anyone is breaking them. But a lot of the meaningful decisions can be made independently of those formal rules.


The formal rules and process I am totally familiar with and understand. It was the informal, but publicized, offers I was wondering about and specifically from Ivy League schools.

Hence why I was wondering from people who had Ivy recruited kids exactly what coaches said before July 1.

Most of the recruits I’ve been involved with were track athletes. They were told about the recruiting timeline which varied by program but at the Ivies didn’t really heat up until summer after junior year, leading into fall official visits, offers made throughout that time period, commitments mostly following fall OVs, likely letters sent in Oct/Nov. That timeline is mostly determined by timeline for the sport followed throughout D1. If commitments in track were being made earlier my guess is Ivy coaches would shift.

In other sports I know recruits and was involved with the process in which offers of support were made between soph and junior year with commitments following.

So the sport and the D1, non-Ivy timeline followed by coaches in that sport matters a lot.

1 Like

DS had a few interested Ivy schools starting after his freshman season (football). From there it becomes emails, texting etc…depending on dead periods. He also had a go between in that coaches can also talk anytime with a position coach that he trained with as well as HS coach. If they don’t show an early interest, kids will definitely gravitate toward schools who do first.
Ivy coaches always stress to the athletes about the importance of grades, gpa, scores etc…especially since the higher, the easier it is for them to get a kid accepted. Lastly, they really want to see kids in person and not just rely on tape. It also shows a kids interest by attending a camp or taking a visit.

1 Like

Our daughter began sending out emails the summer between sophomore and junior year. She narrowed it down to 5 Ivy schools (and 1 non Ivy) and did unofficial visits the winter of her junior year with all of them.

Covid shut everything down shortly there after and the timing of official pre-reads (coaches all gave her thumbs up on academics - BUT they are not admissions), team zooms (since no officials) follows what was laid out here by many other posters in this thread including timing of her pre-reads by admissions.

She only went through pre-reads with 2 of the Ivy’s, as she did not like either the team culture and/or school culture - so the unofficial visits were extremely helpful. She sent “thank you/moving on” emails to all the schools she eliminated (some non-Ivy too). From there she told the #1 coach her choice and communicated to #2 that she was going through the admissions process with #1.

She was specifically asked not to announce on social media her commitment until the team announced after ED day and I find it odd when kids/parents announce so early - it is my understanding that is very frowned upon for “most” sports. Also, her junior team did not announce anyone until after ED day and did a “mock” signing photo session (same with her high school).

As mentioned on this thread, recruiting timeline does change by sport. Our key learning is there is ZERO guarantee your recruited child will get playing time and, in some cases, get cut even after gaining acceptance. When their sport goes hand in hand with their school choice - it is important clarification to get from the coach and look at past trends.

This all may sound smooth - but it was a very stressful process made even more uncertain with Covid, gap years and lack of sport participation due to the shut down. She had a list of schools that would not include her doing her sport too and her high school counselor made her apply to a few EA schools, our state flagship too. All apps were pulled when she had the ED acceptance in hand NOT just the likely letter.


I agree with the overall here and SkiEurope is right on as usual regarding the Ivy process, though I would not entirely agree with the “Coaches have nothing to do with the likely letters”. The likely letter come from admissions though the coach makes the offer to the student to receive support and a LL from admissions after going thru the recruiting process, getting the pre-read feedbacks, etc. and the recruit committing and then submitting an application. The coaches can only provide support and request LL for a set # of recruits, which varies by sport.

Know quite a few kids who went to Ivies from swimming and while there were productive talks earlier, absolutely NONE announced before admission letters were in hand and I believe they were bluntly told not to say anything on social media. My son had early talks sophomore year with a couple and every single one wanted to see transcripts and test scores after the first exchange of swimming stats. They appeared to know extremely well who they were going to be able to get through and had zero interest with kids who wouldn’t pass admissions.

1 Like

That was definitely my experience with track recruits, too, up until a few years ago. Somewhere in the 2018-19 cycle I started seeing Ivy commitments listed on dyestat and milesplit relatively early, like Oct/Nov of senior year. In past years those hadn’t shown up until Dec. Now, the last few years, I’m seeing way more of them, plus social media, and some before even likely letters could be out. In a few cases my understanding is that admissions is still discouraging social media but coaches are telling recruits it’s fine and to go ahead and let everyone know. I think there’s a disconnect between what admissions would prefer and what’s in the coach/program’s interest (which is to make clear that certain recruits are taken). Personally I’d rather have the likely letter in hand but at the same time I understand recruits wanting all the noise to stop once they’ve decided.

1 Like

For soccer and basketball it’s all over Twitter and Insta. Right now. For 25’s-23’s so all totally before LL are out.

It very much seems that kids are all about racking up/publicizing as many offers as possible.

Oh sure, I agree in some sports things are posted much earlier, and that’s been true for a long time. What I’m saying is in the sport I follow closely there’s been a shift with Ivy recruits in the last several years. For the kids I know it was more about pressure from either the HS or college coach, HS AD, or else the desire to signal that the process is over, leave me alone, that motivated earlier announcements than in the past.

1 Like

I thought coaches couldn’t talk to you until after sophomore year? How are younger kids contacting ivy coaches?

As stated above, the coaches contact the hs or club coaches, the kids contact the coaches, they have older cousins or siblings or friends that tell the coach about this great athlete and it takes off from there.

For the sport the Ivy league is competitive in (lax, rowing, hockey) they can’t afford to wait until all the top recruits are picked off by BC, Duke, Syracuse…the coaches have to actively recruit so they do. They go to summer tournaments, they talk to youth and hs coaches, they have their own kids on teams.

When lax changed to a ‘no contact/no commits until Sept 1 of Junior year" by coaches’ agreement, you couldn’t believe how many kids committed on Sept 1, even to Ivies. No way the coaches had had no contact until Sept 1 and that everything happened on that ONE day of the year. Everything was in place for months before Sept 1.

At what point in junior year summer do Ivies request a recruit’s transcript?

Different sports and different coaches have different recruiting timelines.

Some Ivy athletes ‘commit to the process’ as early as freshman year, and the coach has any available transcripts available then, and checks in every semester. Transcripts aren’t going to admissions for formal pre-reads this early, although the coaches generally have a good idea of what the recruit will need in the way of rigor, GPA, and test score (not always required) to pass muster. The coach’s admissions liaison may be seeing transcripts early as well.

Official visits for most sports start with junior year (some sport OVs start earlier than that, some start later). Most coaches will look at a transcript before offering an OV.

By and large, at the Ivys, most formal academic pre-reads with admissions happen after junior year. Recruiting in some sports continues well into senior year.