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

I am concerned about any system of athletic recruiting that places a 17 or 18 year old student in the position of “trust me & give up your very realistic dreams of playing D-1 Ivy League athletics for the possible opportunity of maybe playing at a much lower level than your abilities at my D-3 LAC”.

In my opinion, it should be a violation of NCAA rules for any school D-3 school to place limits or restrictions of any kind on continued recruiting in a higher division until firm commitments are made in writing.

I do think that it is reasonable that a D-3 verbal commitment should curtail further OVs in D-3 barring any unusual circumstances.

The NCAA needs to wake up & stand up for the young athletes it governs. If the NCAA does not open its eyes & continues to let young adults be handled in the current manner that they are in D-3, then the NCAA will likely face further condemnation from the courts.

Why should 17 & 18 & 19 year old students be afraid to investigate promising options for their collegiate career ?

In this thread, we have adult posters laying all types of guilt trips on a young man still in high school who is likely giving up a D-1 Ivy League athletic, social, & educational opportunity based on nothing but a possibility of being admitted to a D-3 institution at which his athletic development will suffer and, almost certainly, the student will never reach his or her full athletic potential while competing against inferior opponents.

The NCAA needs to stand up for those talented, hard-working, young adults who are caught in a position where the athlete foregoes golden opportunities for the mere unbinding verbal piece of hope that is not even in the control of the one offering nothing more than a possibility of the coach’s efforts to support the student’s admission. D-3 athletic recruiting is caught up in a rotten, antiquated, lopsided system that harms the interests of young talented adults who want to explore their options.

One possible change would be to ban D-3 athletic recruiting altogether.

Another option would be for an absolute prohibition on D-3 institutions from limiting athletic recruits from further contact with any higher level division schools.

D-3 athletics is nothing more than a continuation of high school athletics, therefore D-3 athletics should be on the same level as any other club or EC at such schools.

It is difficult to overstate the value of an Ivy League degree and the value of D-1 athletic competition & development for a talented, dedicated, & hard-working young adult. OP should be encouraged to become the best that he can be and not to be made to feel guilty for higher aspirations and for protecting his own interests. Fairness should be a priority, not furthering an antiquated, rotten system that hinders a talented, hard working, young adult’s development.

This is insulting to D3 Athletics and the athletes that participate. There are many D3 programs with facilities, athletes and coaches that are superior to D1 programs. For example, the swim programs at Denison, Kenyon and WUSTL are more competitive and successful than many D1 Swim programs.


I appreciate your point. I agree that there are some poor D-1 programs in various sports. And I agree that there are some outstanding D-3 athletic programs.

My concern is not with D-3 athletics-which I think should be open to all enrolled students, it is with the recruiting system employed by D-3 schools which may restrict a student-athlete from exploring all other options with nothing but a faint assurance from one who does not have any ultimate decision making authority.

FWIW When I was in college at a D-3 school, our wrestling team had 2 D-3 National Champions & we won the league championship. The D-3 wrestling team was better than some D-1 teams. Winning a D-3 National Championship allowed the two wrestlers to compete in the D-1 national tournament. Both were beaten in their first rounds of the D-1 tournament not because of a lack of talent & determination, but due to competing at an inferior level. (My high school wrestling practices were much more demanding than those at the D-3 college. And the results speak for themselves as, if I recall correctly, every starting senior wrestler at my high school receives D-1 wrestling offers including from the very top D-1 wrestling programs.)

In the OP’s case, he is unlikely to achieve D-1 level performance competing in the NESCAC. (Very easy to compare as results are measured objectively in either time, distance, or height.)

I like D-3 athletics for several reasons including the ability to participate in more than one sport.

OP: Good luck with your decision. I will be travelling for the next few weeks, but I hope to catch up on your situation when I get back.

Users who have been here for some time - which would be most respondents on this thread - know my philosophy; when a kid starts a thread with a question, the answers should focus on the kid’s question. Nowhere did they ask if the recruiting system needs to be overhauled. Move the conversation forward please.


My post was not intended to lay a guilt trip on OP. And I won’t stray down path of discussing the recruiting system, except to agree that you are right, the system is pretty flawed and at all levels coaches abuse the power dynamic. I have no ethical problem with “breaking the committment.” I’ve seen enough crap pulled by coaches in a slanted system that my feeling is the kids have to look out for themselves first. My concern is that the coach will respond in kind and then there is no committment.

I haven’t searched for the older post, but it sounds like OP may have committed too hastily? I don’t know what the circumstances around that are, if there was pressure or not. And possibly OP is talented enough that they can tell the D3 coach what they are doing, and the door will remain open. Certainly that is a possibility. But it is also possible that the coach will choose to move on.

T&F isn’t my area, but this might be one where OP has a pretty good idea about chances at the Ivy(s) they are looking at. If the odds are good, then it may make sense to keep the door open, plus that will make the D3 coach more likely to grin and bear it if OP starts shopping around. If the Ivy is a reach, then this is the kind of choice we all have to make on a regular basis. Do you take the sure thing, or take a risk for something better that may not happen at all?

Also @publisher and I have discussed this before and we disagree but I’ll put it here for the benefit of the OP. I think T&F, along with maybe swimming and I’m not sure what else, wouldn’t have quite the same negative consequences other sports do for playing (or runnning) below their level. For team sports it can be particularly frustrating to be the one who is the most talented and hard working, surrounded by a support cast that brings you down. And sports like wrestling where you are in direct competition with someone else need high level practice partners to get better. In T&F though you are essentially competing against the clock. If you are running for Williams but are putting up D1 tournament placing times, sure you look like you don’t belong, but you still can work to improve and even keep running or jumping or throwing beyond college if you have the talent for it. With most sports going D3 is accepting that college is the end of the line athletically (which for 99% of college athletes it will be anyway).


No intent to guilt anyone with my comments, either. I guess one downside of the internet is that others can’t tell we’re all smiling on the other end (behind our masks) :slight_smile: My impression is that the OP weighed all these issues and made an informed choice about the school and program that would be the best fit. And, more importantly, is happy and excited about it (as they should be). I’m hopeful that’s the case, and if so the OP has clear advice on how to proceed. If there’s doubt, then I agree the OP has options.

I do want to comment on the D3 vs. D1 issue that @Publisher raises, as it can be relevant for some track recruits. I agree that there is a subset of track recruits that is best served by a good D1 program. They need the training group, coaching, and resources. Most of all, though, they crave the competition. They’ve been competing against the same few elite athletes in their state or region for years and want a bigger pond. In my experience that group mostly has sorted itself out by the summer after junior year. They just aren’t looking at D3 programs any longer, if they ever were. And even if they are, most good D3 coaches have already decided that they’re going D1 eventually and so have backed off recruiting. Most of these recruits who are looking at Ivies are also looking at P5 programs and probably visiting a mix of those. So, for that group I think the D1 vs. D3 debate isn’t really an issue because there aren’t any D3s on their list. (There are exceptions to this, and I’m not discounting in any way the talent or desire of those few from this group who end up in D3).

The more interesting group, for whom this issue is directly relevant, is that group that is good enough to compete in D1 but not so good that D3 won’t offer adequate competition. These are usually the recruits that D3 coaches are after but for whom an Ivy slot is uncertain until late in the process, or maybe likely only at 1-2 Ivy programs. These recruits are probably looking at a mix of D3 and D1 programs. For these athletes, I think D3 at a good program can be a better choice if the school and program are the right fit. That’s because there’s a decent chance that at an Ivy, for example, they’ll have limited opportunities to compete and might not ever get a chance to compete at Heps. Much better experience for those athletes to compete in a conference championship in D3 and perhaps advance to nationals. Again, if the school and program are the right fit. For those kids, I don’t think D3 significantly limits development. And there are examples like Nick Symmonds and Will Lear of those types of athletes progressing to elite levels.

Having said all that, if the programs mentioned are the ones OP is considering, there’s no wrong choice. Strong programs, really good coaches and people, and great team chemistry. The academics aren’t too shabby either.


That isn’t what is happening at all. The OP is free to continue the recruitment process, go to all the OVs he wants to, continue talking to other coaches. THIS d3 coach has made an offer. He doesn’t have to accept, he can ask for more time, he can take his chances and not apply ED. The offer is for the the student to commit now and be assured of admission to this school. The coach hasn’t said he’d not welcome the student onto the team if he continued the recruiting process. He also hasn’t said he’d hold the spot for this athlete if he’s not ready to commit.

That’s the same decision every student athlete makes at some time - this school or that one, now or wait. Why should the D3 school’s coach have to wait until every single D1 school has picked over all the best athletes? The D3 coach only has so many tools in his box. “Hey, commit to me now and I can get you into Tufts or Williams or Emery, but if you want to wait on Yale, good luck to you.” The D3 coach has a job to do, and that’s build a team. He’d rather have Tom, but if Tom isn’t ready to commit, he’s going to move on to Bill.

Do I think the OP should take the OV? Yes, but let both coaches know. The D3 coach might be willing to wait.

My daughter’s Plan B was to take a gap year. She applied to one school, signed the NLI in November, and then we waited for FA. It was a tense wait. It was screwed up and we had to fix it. For about 2 weeks, it looked like she wouldn’t be going to school in the fall and if she did, wouldn’t be playing her sport. She was actually okay with that as a Plan B.

My D1 athletic recruit committed before his senior year but also applied to a few other schools where he would not play, just be a student. What if he got hurt senior year, what if he changed his mind about playing in college? He was a student first, wanted a good education and had several offers from excellent academic schools - however, had he not been an athlete he may have wanted to attend some schools that had been on his radar but where he would not have wanted to play.
It’s hard to figure this all out- my son was always a really good athlete but quite frankly I never imagined he would have been so highly recruited.i think it was good for him to have a plan B .
It all worked out- he played, loved his school, graduated and is well employed:)


OP stated in their post that they have committed.


Yes, committed but he has to decide if he wants to continue recruiting by taking OV visits. To me, someone taking OV is not committed (and there is nothing wrong with it because there is no real commitment to D3, and now with the transfer portal, there really isn’t much commitment with a NLI either).

He can tell D3 school that they are his first choice but he wants to have back up schools in case something goes wrong and it could be admissions, finances, medical - just something goes a way he didn’t expect. If the d3 coach agrees, then he needs to tell the other coaches he’d like them to let him take the OV so they can be his back up.

It might work. Some athletes are so wanted they can pretty much do whatever they want. Then there are the rest of us where the D3 coach would grill him about how committed he is and the D1 coach may or may not cancel the visit.

I don’t think it’s wrong to go either way. Take the D3 offer and not have a back up or tell the coaches they are Plan A and Plan B. Some are fine with it, other (Nick Saban) are not.

What we all agree on is that he shouldn’t take the OV without letting both the D3 coach and the OV coach know what he’s doing. Applying to other schools is fine and the applications can be pulled if he gets into D3 by ED.

Hard to say without knowing the particulars, such as the school and what your chances for admittance are.
Is this school a reach for you academically?
Would you get in without coaches support, and does the coach actually get slots or have real influence with Admissions?
Coaches still recruit and would like students to apply ED, go to their school, run for their team, etc. but that does not automatically mean they have an actual slot or have influence with
That said, it is good to be thinking of a back-up plan or other options, especially if this is a very selective school for admissions.
I would think you could be upfront with the other coaches though I would only consider going to an OV if you would be interested in that school if this fell thru.
Good luck!
Note: re-reading…My question is this: Should I only apply to this school since it’s my top choice?
Since you asked the question is sounds like there may be a little doubt. I’ve stated this previously and this is my opinion, I would only apply ED if you are 100% sure this is your top school And you need the coaches support to get in.
If you are not sure, and you feel you were fairly sure you could get in RD without the coaches support, I would consider checking out the other schools/OVs.

The OP’s two schools are highly, highly selective. Regardless of the grades/stats, no one could be sure that they are getting in through regular admissions.


Exactly. And even if accepted RD, the D3 coach’s offer to join the team might not still stand if OP renegs on their verbal committment, goes on OVs, and/or applies RD.


Understood. I had assumed that it was highly selective though I did not see that stated so I was asking as that is certainly very important in the decision making process.