Should you apply to other schools if you've committed to a college for athletics

Hi all!!

I just got recruited to attend a D3 school for track and field! Essentially, the coach said he would support me if I chose the college, and since it’s my top choice, I have decided to apply Early Decision. Since it’s D3, the coach can’t have me sign a contract, but he says that there’s never been an athlete they’ve supported that hasn’t gotten through the school.

My question is this: Should I only apply to this school since it’s my top choice? I heard from some athletic recruits before that after they committed to a school they applied to other ones, which caused some concern for their commited school. On the otherhand, in case somehow things go wrong, I could still have a backup if I apply to other schools.

Moreover, now that I’ve commited, what do I say to my other coaches? I have some Officials visits with D1 coaches planned months in advance, but should I still attned them or is there no point now?

Congratulations on your commitment. I would not go on any official visits if you have verbally committed elsewhere. You should tell all coaches that you had been communicating with that you have verbally committed, thanks for their time, good luck with their season, etc.

Regarding applying elsewhere that is up to you. Many athletes do apply to other schools as a back-up/Plan B. I have known recruited athletes who have chosen to apply elsewhere, and some who haven’t. I am not sure why the coach would care if you apply elsewhere (unless it’s at another school that is recruiting you).

You can apply to rolling admission schools and/or EA schools now or at the same time you send the app to the school where you are a recruit. If something happens and you find out Dec 15 that you aren’t accepted, you will be under a lot of pressure to get RD applications in.


I think you need a Plan B, at least - unless you’d be equally as happy to attend the college as an academic admit only, if something were to happen with your offer. Coaches quit or move up/around all the time - you just never know. A friend’s daughter just sweated her offer after the coach quit unexpectedly and the new coach started talking about possibly “going in a different direction”. Thankfully it worked out but they were nervous as their daughter didn’t apply anywhere else.


There is an old saying:

A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper that it’s printed on. (And, bluntly speaking, you don’t even have that.)

Don’t be foolish as coaches change jobs & change plans frequently. What if a better recruit in your event shows strong interest in the same D 3 school ? Do you think that the coach will tell that student that he or she will not get support ? Of course not. Go on your D 1 interviews. Applying ED is enough. Don’t box yourself in as circumstances & plans often change.

Why would any coach be concerned if an ED applicant applied elsewhere non-ED ? Listen to the other college athletes with whom you have spoken.

Are you really willing to limit your future based on the vague statement about “support” ?

P.S. Also, if you are a track & field athlete with D-1 qualifications why in the world would you forego the opportunity to attend an Ivy League school to compete in D-3 ? In your earlier thread, you wrote that you would prefer to be on a D-1 team. If you are that talented & dedicated, then you run the risk of being disappointed competing at the D-3 level. (I speak from personal experience on this last point.)

I agree with others that you should have a plan B in the highly unlikely case that things don’t work out at this school. Most of the recruits I know in this situation sat down and made a list of plan B options. In cases where there was a compelling reason to get an app in early, for merit scholarships or some other reason, they sent it. It’s no problem to do that, just don’t involve the athletic department or coaches. In practice, most decided that they could pull things together at the last minute if needed. None had to do that, so I don’t know how that would have worked out.

If this is a school that gives an early indication of admission, similar to a likely letter, then that would obviously help with your decision of whether to act early with a backup plan.

I also agree with @Mwfan1921 that you should let the other coaches know of your decision. It’d be good to have a simple explanation for your decision, such as small classes, etc., just to help the conversation run smoothly. Those will be tough phone calls but the coaches have had hundreds of such calls, so don’t fret too much about it. Do keep in mind that part of your plan B might be to come back to these coaches if plan A falls through.

Congrats on the result and good luck with your senior year.


This is not good advice, athletic recruiting is a highly specialized process. OP said this is their top choice school. There are many D1 athletes who choose to play D3 sports.

It is highly unlikely the coach will break the verbal commit for a better player…that just isn’t common because it’s high risk as these recruiting worlds are small.

OP can go on the official visits only if they tell the coach they are verbally committed elsewhere and the coach says they will still spend their limited OV funds on said recruit (and that is unlikely to happen). I would also expect the D1 coach to tell the D3 coach of the conversation.

If OP goes on OVs and the D3 coach finds out, the offer could be rescinded and with good reason. The D1 coach would also be displeased to find out they wasted OV dollars on a verbally committed student, and could tell other coaches (in fact I would expect they would).


In the real world, until an actual agreement is made, one needs to investigate all available options which are of interest to OP.

OP can share that he will apply ED to the D-3 but–since there is no guarantee–he has scheduled D-1 visits that he intends to honor.

@tsbna44: I agree with your advice 100%.

Recently, a top D-1 football recruit who had verbally committed to a D-1 school and cancelled other visits had the verbal “commitment” withdrawn by the D-1 school as the school decided to implement a new style of offense that required a different type of QB. There are many such examples.

OP has spoken with other recruited athletes who had the wisdom & foresight to protect themselves. Applying ED is all that OP needs to do. He is free to tell the coach that he will continue with his prior commitments until officially accepted.

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After reading this and hearing about so many, usually football players, having their scholarships pulled for bs reasons - i’d say heck yeah.

8 Ways a Coach Can Take Away Your Athletic Scholarship - AthletiCollege

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If OP is has a verbal commit from a school where the pre-read and full support process is honed to the point where the coach says all similar recruits have been accepted, then it is a near 100% likelihood of acceptance (barring poor grades or a disciplinary action).

OP said this is their top choice school. It is unethical to attend OVs when committed elsewhere, unless both coaches know. And good luck with those conversations.

It is no problem for OP to apply to Plan B schools where they aren’t being recruited. As always on CC, OP will have to sort thru which posters have experience in recruiting and which don’t.


I’m confused by many of these responses. If the OP is applying ED, then they cannot apply ED anywhere else. If you are not sure about that overall with this school, then don’t apply ED.

You will have time between ED and RD deadlines to invoke Plan B in the unlikely event you don’t get in (assuming you truly have coach support). Just be prepared with a list and familiarize yourself with applications so you can get those out.

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This is not applicable to OP’s D3 situation.


So don’t be unethical. Let both coaches know.

I disagree with your advice. The student needs options until the “maybe” becomes a “certainty”.

@nycnycnycnyc: OP has not applied ED yet. OP is planning to apply ED. OP is free to apply to rolling admissions schools, EA schools, RD, & ED 2 if not accepted to whichever school he applies ED 1.

No one has told OP to apply ED elsewhere. They can and should have a plan B, which may involve applying to EA and/or rolling admission schools. There is not much time to do a good job on applications that are due the first week of January, if in the unlikely case OP was not accepted to the ED school on Dec 15.

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Have you ever worked with a potential athletic recruit thru this particular type of situation?


OP: Your only obligation is to withdraw any other college applications if accepted ED to any college or university.

Other than that, evaluate the offered advice in this thread with your parents & with the other recruited athletes who have faced similar situations.

Throughout life, you will receive conflicting advice and will need to make choices. There is a reason that the D-3 coach will not give you anything in writing & why you are not permitted to sign an agreement or contract as you noted in your original post.

Think about what your situation will be between now & prior to an official ED decision if you are injured or other circumstances change. Don’t be foolish regarding the next 4 years of your life.

First of all congratulations - recruiting is very stressful and sounds like you have managed this process with maturity. Having numerous visits offered is a great testament to your academics and sport ability.

My daughter was an athletic recruit (ended up at an Ivy) and has many friends that committed during Covid - when officials were off the table. It is a process full of doubt and it is wise that you are thinking through the “what ifs”.

I think @Mwfan1921 advice is 100% accurate. @Zackattack44 you wrote that this school is your top choice and the coach has told you he gets everyone in. I assume you have gone through the pre-read process and he has this confirmation directly from admissions - then in 99% of the cases you are good. You would apply ED (as requested by the coach) and IF it is 100% doable financially for your family and they agree.

Even though my daughter was committed to a school, she still applied to our state flagship, 2 EA schools (all saying she would have a spot on the team and she told them the name of her committed school) and had essays done for 2 other Ivy schools that told her to contact them for RD if something happened with her ED school. No guarantees - but they didn’t shut her out.

She was 100% honest that she had a commitment - but with Covid, teams getting cut, kids taking a gaps - it was very important she had a plan. I couldn’t imagine a worse way for all of us to spend the holiday break having to scramble - so we (and her school counselor and team coach) were adamant that she be ready…just in case!

She still is not happy that we made her do all the essay work - and we are all glad it didn’t have to be used :wink:

I do not know of any D3 school that provides a Likely Letter - I imagine a few do - but it is not common. I do know for my daughter’s friends that were looking and committed to D3’s like Williams, Pomona and Tufts - their college counselor (all from independent schools) made a call to admissions just to make sure it was all good. For my daughter - her school gave out 6 likely letters and 5 other team mates also got in for ED with soft support - it is not an exact science.

Again, Congrats !


I strongly disagree with some of the advice to continue the search after a commitment has been made. (ETA: but I think the approach @coffeeat3 describes above makes good sense, and is not what I’m ranting about below :slight_smile: )

The time to explore options is before making a commitment. If OP isn’t sure, then they shouldn’t commit now and should complete OVs. (I usually encourage recruits not to decide until all visits are done, but sometimes they just know early and there’s no point). But once a commitment is made by both sides, it’s very bad form to continue the process elsewhere and is likely to blow up in a recruit’s face.

Look, track and field isn’t football. These academic schools aren’t SEC schools. Track coaches at these schools aren’t weasels. They’ll do what they say and for the most part can be trusted. They all know each other and talk all the time. Acting like a flake has consequences, for both parties.

When a coach uses support for a recruit, he is using up a finite resource. That is a commitment and the most he can do. He isn’t going to be happy about promising to use that resource on a recruit that’s still playing the field. At some point, the recruit has to go all in and have faith in the coach and the process. The odds of success don’t get better by being noncommittal or appearing to be unreliable; they get worse.

Things might be different if we were talking about football or different types of schools (at which academic support probably isn’t relevant).

Recruits need to keep in mind that these will be their people for the next four plus years. Treat them like future teammates and how you’d want them to treat you. That doesn’t mean not being careful and protecting your interests. But you can do that while still acting in a responsible, professional way.


You realize that you claim another poster is 100% correct, then give an example that your daughter contradicted that advice. Doesn’t make sense to me. No one is suggesting that OP be secretive about continuing with his prior commitments to visit D-1 schools & nobody is suggesting that OP violate an ED application supplement in any way. In contrast to the other poster, we are encouraging OP to do what your daughter did & what OP’s acquaintances did.

No. There is a big difference between remaining cordial and keeping options open on the one hand and taking official visits on the other. The latter is a significant investment of time and resources by a program and an implicit indication of availability by a recruit. Huge difference.


Hmmm - guess I don’t see it the same way as you. @Mwfan1921 and @politeperson advice and mine seem to align. My daughter was 100% transparent and ethical with all coaches and they asked her directly where did you commit and offered up continued contact if it didn’t work out. That is how it works in her sport and many others. She did not use school resources on overnights or waste time of coaches.

The poster states the D3 school is his #1 choice and he is ready to commit. This is what he tells the other coaches (just like my child) and it is up to those coaches if they want him to keep in touch in case the situation changes. Applying to EA and your state flagship is the smart thing to do - especially with Covid and changes you mentioned like health and injury. These apps were pulled when she was admitted ED and the other coaches were contacted too.

She did not submit any other applications and only had them ready to go if something happened to her committed program.