College scholarships

COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS: The Myths and Misconceptions of College Recruiting

I always enjoy having Wayne Mazzoni on my show because he provides real truth and clarity when it comes to the world of college recruiting.

That’s because, as the pitching coach at Sacred Heart University, he knows what really goes on in the recruiting wars. He’s also very much in demand for speaking engagements to HS athletic groups, and above all, be sure to check out his website BeRecruited.Net if your son or daughter is thinking about playing sports in college.

Wayne touched on a number of topics this AM, and I only wish I had more time as the calls that poured in were all smart and right on target. But among the myths that Wayne exploded:

There’s a college out there for any HS athlete who wants to play intercollegiate sports in college. Wayne made it clear that’s really misleading, even though a lot of HS guidance counselors will mistakenly tell to their students. Wayne cautions HS kids and their parents: even Div. III programs, although they can’t offer scholarships, are usually very active in their recruiting and the jump in talent from HS to Div. III sports is quite substantial.

That is, if you’re just an average HS player, don’t be misled into thinking that you can go to a Div. III program and will make the team as a walk-on. Yes, you might, but making the team AND getting playing team are two totally different things.

In fact I know of some Div. III baseball programs where the head coach has a no-cut policy: you try out, work hard in practice, and you make the roster. But being on the roster DOES NOT guarantee any playing time. As one student told me, “You dress for the games, but never, ever get in. After awhile, you just cut yourself.” Not a good experience.

Online recruting services are a good solid way to be marketed. Mazzoni made the claim that he doesn’t think that any college coach takes these services very seriously, and you are better off saving your money to help pay for your college tuition. He says you should just reach out to the college coach yourself, and finding out if he holds an off-season camps where the athlete can attend and meet the coach in person.

Recruits v. recruited walk-ons v. walk-ons. Wayne made the distinction very clear: recruits are those kids who have received some sort of athletic scholarship to be on the team. A recruited walk-on is someone who has been admitted, but was not offered any scholarship money.  You should also know that the scholarship money kids will get more opportunities to be a starter than the recruited walk-on.

And traditional walk-ons, much in the mode of the famous Notre Dame “Rudy” movie, well, they get a chance to practice until the coach decides whether they should be cut or kept on the team. Just bear in mind that many Div. I programs don’t even allow walk-ons these days. And that the feel-good movie “Rudy” was made more than 30 years ago. In other words, there aren’t many modern-day Rudy’s running around.

I plan to have Wayne back on the show again soon, because I want to prevent as many heartbreaking stories that I can about college recruiting. It is a difficult business, and too few parents know how the game is played.


  • Dunkin123

    Rick, What an important discussion. As a parent of D3 college pitcher who was heavily recruited by a number of top D3 colleges, the truth is that my son still had try out for the team in the fall of his freshman year, along with recruited players and non recruited players.

    In fact, nearly 60 students competed for a few spots on the roster. There were students who were recruited that didn’t make the team and they were devastated. Parents and their HS star children need to understand that being a HS all conference, all district, all state player, etc. in any sport does not assure a roster spot on a D3 team. The truth is that virtually every student athlete on my son’s team was decorated HS standout.

    In other words, when you play at the D3 level it’s a level playing field of talent and HIGHLY competitive. Also, because it’s a short seaon in D3 (can’t exceed 40 baseball games in a season) coaches want to win now and have the luxury of picking among the best talent in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. One last point, my son was one of 10 pitchers on the varsity roster made up mostly of upper classmen. He watched the games from the bullpen the entire season and saw only a few varsity innings. Real eye opener after leading his team to a HS championship his senior year. Many times he sat there asking himself “why am I doing this when I have an exam to study for?”