Legacy for Athletic Recruits - Sibling & Parent

Can anyone with knowledge comment on how prevalent it is and whether it is a hook to recruiting/admissions?

Specifically, I’m referencing when the younger sibling or child of a former or current varsity athlete at a school gets “preference” in recruiting, even if it is for a different sport.

I certainly don’t have definitive answers, but my thinking is that it’s irrelevant to recruiting (other than to get a coach to look at a kid, if only out of courtesy). Once a recruit has coach support and applies ED, the legacy is a nice part of the application, just like other nice parts of the application (e.g. in addition to playing their sport, the applicant had the lead in the school play, or was student body president). How much the legacy matters depends on the school, it varies.


A sibling or parent legacy probably won’t help much in recruiting. Maybe a small “foot in the door” initially, but coaches want to win and won’t take players that aren’t up to standards. However, I know of one athlete who received a preferred walk on at a P5 football program who has big $ booster parents who were also athletes at that school. And the kid hadn’t played football since freshman year of high school. He was a standout athlete in another sport.

In admissions, a legacy could be a hook, depending on the school.

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I had read in other posts that coaches are considering the family when recruiting, and eliminating athletes from consideration if they believe the parents will be overbearing. So it seems if they can eliminate that risk completely due to prior history with the family it would make sense and at least be a tie-breaker for a recruit who is similar to others?

Yes, some kids will fall off a recruit list due to helicopter parents. This is true if they are legacies or not. It should be the kid’s process. As a parent, never get over involved in the process.

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That would only matter if the coach would think legacy factor would help a borderline (academically) kid get through admissions.

Coaches are focused on athletic ability, and once a kid seems admissible, the athletic ability is all they care about. They don’t care if a kid is even more likely to be admitted vis a vis another recruit, if that other recruit is admissible and also is a better player.

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The circumstances I am referring to are more about top ranked (for the sport) schools trying to choose who to actively recruit and ultimately give a scholarship/LL/slot to among many athletes who are roughly of the same elite level, and not so much concerned about whether they can get through admissions.

Looking at bios on college rosters across many different sports, it seems some top-ranked teams have many players who have older siblings and/or parents who compete(d) at the school.

More specifically, I saw that a team that had recently won a national championship as a team in an individual sport had recruited a much lower (worse) ranked athlete, which was surprising to some in the sport’s community (players + parents). Upon further reflection it became apparent that the recruited athlete had an older sibling who competed for another varsity team at the same school. There are numerous examples of this type of situation, across different sports.

Was he actually recruited or accepted and then allowed to join the team? Even if there was some sort of thumb on the scale, did the coach actually give up a slot for this athlete?


So you are talking about schools where they are not academically selective but are a powerhouse in the sport? In which case, wouldn’t an NLI be the document involved, and not a likely letter? As far as I’m aware, LLs are issued by selective/rejective schools.

I defer to your knowledge of other sports, I really only know men’s soccer. Sometimes a family focuses on one sport, and all the kids are great players. The parent might be a coach, e.g. And soccer is a subjective sport, so as I say, someone putting in a word will get a kid seen. But not recruited, unless the kid is up to snuff.

And also, legacy in men’s soccer is pretty rare. In fact I cannot think of any examples, although undoubtedly they are out there.

This is not unusual in Track and Field.

Sometimes coaches can use the legacy status to facilitate admission without using an athletic slot.

But in most of the cases it’s really just a matter of siblings or kids of athletes come with a lot less uncertainty and are easy to convert to productive team members. If there’s a direct connection—like sibling of a solid athlete the current coach knew or coached—it’s really low-hanging fruit from a recruiting perspective. But even the loose connection of a sibling or parent having competed in a sport at say an Ivy League school is a decent predictor when screening recruits for the same type of school/program.

It probably matters more in some sports than others. And of course the recruit would need to be in range or project to be in range to fit athletically on the team.

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Well they could be academically selective schools (esp for D3), but many Ivy schools (and of course Stanford) are perennial championship contenders.

Ivy are particularly competitive in more niche sports like Lacrosse, (Field and Ice) Hockey, Rowing, Squash, Fencing, etc.

I just point out that they are top-ranked teams because they are obviously attracting some of the best recruits in the country - but in some cases they are opting for slightly lesser athletes whose family they are familiar with.

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Yes in the specific example I gave the athlete was recruited. In that specific sport there are only 2 recruits per year, so it’s pretty obvious.

The athlete was still very competitive (top 20 junior ranking in the US) - but that team routinely attracts top 3 ranked players.

A different varsity team at that same school (also competitive nationally) appears to have done something similar wrt older sibling legacy.

I also wonder whether being an active member of a “Varsity Club” gives sibling legacy recruits a boost.

Those organizations (there seems to be one at every school) allow “sport-specific funding” of varsity programs, so parents who give generously may be helping their younger children (and younger siblings of former and current athletes) gain an edge in recruiting by becoming more valuable from a coach’s perspective.

That’s not really a factor in the sports I know. At most, I’d think that sort of contribution might get a courtesy call and perhaps an easier path to walk on. But not admissions help.

More generally what I see is this: Katie was a solid runner for Yale and a great teammate; she developed a lot once in college; her sister is a HS runner, wants to go to Yale, and is running comparable times in HS. Katie’s former coach is still at Yale. One phone call and an OV and it’s a done deal. Sometimes it makes sense to take the easy layup.

In the case you’re talking about, I don’t know how static the rankings are over time in that sport but oftentimes good coaches can see things others don’t. It could be a case where experience with the family led to a closer look and athletic potential sealed it.

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Why are you interested in this? Do you have an athlete going through recruiting now?




At the elite level (top 1% of high school athletes for their sport), the difference between recruits can be very small.

College coaches often recruit from “pipeline” schools. Similarly, I find it plausible that already having connection to the school (and eliminating a risk in recruiting of running into a problem parent/family) can put one recruit over the top vs the field.

Almost every school’s recruiting questionnaire asks not only for Parents and Other Important Relationships, but also Siblings.

But the top 1% will find a spot on a team, although maybe not at their first choice school.

The effect of legacy on recruiting as a whole is negligible. If your athlete is a legacy, I am sorry to say that it will not make much of a difference. If your athlete is not a legacy, you do not have to give it any thought at all as it is immaterial.

It is not the reason your athlete is, or is not, getting recruiting interest.


I know many sibling pairs (or more) who have played together at the same school. Yes, players often introduce a sibling or cousin or former teammate to a coach and that gets them started in recruiting.

My daughter played with 5 former club teammates on her college team. College coach like those who came from that club.

If you look at the team profiles for Yale (at least in some sports), they list the parents, if the parent was an athlete and where (and what) they played, and sibling and where and what they play.

I think it helps with the coach and to get introductions to other coaches.


I don’t think the effect of legacy on recruiting is negligible.

Would be great to hear people with firsthand knowledge/experience on this topic.

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