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From: The Dartmouth Online

We reprinted this article to let you have an inside look at not just Dartmouth recruiting -- But recruiting at all the "Ivies" and Patriot League schools. As non-scholarship members of the NCAA Division I things are very different when it comes to athletic recruiting at these institutions

Recruiting and signing high school athletes is perhaps the most important part of a college coach's job. Without talented players, even the greatest coach can't consistently win.

Nationally, recruiting has become so prominent that dedicated alumni watch closely to see what high school stars will sign with their beloved alma mater.

The NCAA literally has thousands of rules dealing with recruiting to restrict coaches from breaking the rules and to keep alums out of recruiting. In addition, coaches in the Ivy League face numerous other rules and the prospect of luring top athletes without scholarships, something most major athletic programs depend on. It's a very complicated process, and one that remains largely a mystery to those who aren't intimately involved in it.

For coaches here at Dartmouth and throughout the nation, recruiting has been refined into a very complicated system of data compilation and contact with the high school athlete. Although the NCAA forbids direct contact with a prospect until the athlete's junior year in high school, the process can start as early as freshmen year. Coaches are often contacted by freshmen and sophomore athletes interested in Dartmouth, although they cannot officially communicate with them. In addition, many coaches travel about the country scouting talent during the off-season, watching talented players of all ages.

The recruiting process "is more hectic than the regular season," admits Chris Wielgus, coach of Dartmouth's successful women's basketball team. "Myself and my two assistants spend the whole month of July watching basketball games all day full time…you have to plan every day or you lose recruits."

Head baseball coach Bob Whalen concurred. Coming off of one of the Big Green's most impressive seasons to date, the baseball coaching staff "saw kids from around 26 different states last summer," the Big Green headman said. Reaching out to lots of recruits is important because "it's a numbers game. You don't know who will be admitted and who will commit."

Wooing the Future
Because of the massive nature of the task, coaches compile enormous databases containing information on high schools prospects, their coaches, their high schools, their test scores and academic info, and the regions they play in and level of competition. The track coaches have access to booklets containing the results of every state cross country and track championship in the country. From there they send out letters to coaches and ask for information on prospects. Whalen has a recruiting coordinator generate a list of underclassmen that fill the needs of the baseball team. A computer program takes the hometowns of every Ivy League football and baseball player and shows patterns of which areas and states are producing the most athletes.

Although every coach has different methods of compiling the necessary data, the goal is the same -- get the athletes into the program who will help win championships. At Dartmouth, the coaches emphasize that these athletes will also be individuals who will contribute in the classroom and to the campus as a whole. Recruits are asked to fill out pre-applications that list their scores, class rank, activities, and other relevant academic information. Even if these coaches wanted athletes instead of student-athletes, they couldn't have them. Ivy League policy demands that athletes be able to produce off the field as well as they do on it.

Although the time table varies slightly with each sport, talented high school juniors will be inundated with mailings from interested programs throughout the school year and, beginning the following summer, head and assistant coaches will begin telephoning and giving desired athletes the sales pitch. If a recruit is particularly desired or fills a definite need, the coaches will make home visits, trying to convince the athlete and his family that Dartmouth is the best place for them.

Generally in late September and early October, recruits who have a high level of interest in attending Dartmouth will take one of their NCAA maximum allowed five official visits. The visits take place over a weekend and cannot exceed 48 hours in length. Recruits stay with a current member of the team who takes them around and shows them life at Dartmouth. Depending on the sport, part of the visit will take place on a Friday or a Monday so that the recruit can attend a class and meet a professor.

The official visit serves two purposes for the coach -- to try to gain personal information on the recruit and to sell the idea of competing and learning at Dartmouth.

When it comes to learning about the prospect, coaches have to know not only what kind of person and student is but also how interested the prospect is in Dartmouth.

"I have to look at three things in a prospect," said men's track and cross-country coach Barry Harwick. "Good academics, athletic skills, and is he going to come here? It's the most frustrating thing in the world when you try to get a kid to come here and in April he says 'Thanks coach, but I'm going Princeton.'"

At some point over the weekend the interested recruit will meet with the coach of his or her respective sport. Almost every coach interviewed listed similar ideas they try to convey to their recruits about Dartmouth and why this is the place to spend the best four years of their life.

"The fact that they're going to get the good education, the alumni benefits," women's track head coach Sandy Ford-Centonze listed. "Does the student want to look at the benefits after graduation?"

All of the coaches interviewed are the heads of very successful athletic programs; the tradition is used as a part of the sales pitch to recruits.

Reeling Them In
Following the visitation period, coaches try to get commitments from players in the form of Early Decision applications. By far the hardest to convince are those who are offered scholarships at other institutions. Dartmouth's generosity with undergraduate financial aid alleviates some of the strain, but convincing a recruit to turn down money at another school is a difficult sale.

Some sports, such as men's track, do not have to compete with many scholarship offers because Title IX has reduced the number of scholarships available in men's athletics. This makes the lure of an Ivy League education that much more appealing.

For women's basketball and track, Title IX has increased the number of women's scholarships, making women's coaches' jobs that much harder. It is surprising therefore, and a testament to Dartmouth and its coaches that the Big Green routinely competes for and wins scholarship athletes away from other schools.

"Every player we have turned down a scholarship to play here," Wielgus commented.

At this stage in the recruiting game, the Admissions office comes into play. When a recruit applies to Dartmouth, coaches supply his or her name to the admissions office via a liaison. Every sport has a different liaison and a different number of recruits it can list, and there is no guarantee that any of them will get in. The coaches therefore try to supply a list of well-qualified athletes who will contribute to the Dartmouth community.

"We look for kids who are very achievement and leadership oriented," Whelan said. "If a kid is highly motivated and has a high class rank with difficult classes, then that type of approach will carry over to the athletic field."

While coaches are universal in their praise of their athletes and Dartmouth, they also concede that stringent academic standards and a lack of scholarships hurt recruiting.

Although Dean Karl Furstenburg and the rest of the admissions officers offer no guarantees, there are generally a fairly consistent number of recruits who are offered admission. Once again, the number varies with every sport. Football is allowed somewhere around a four year average of 35 players. Women's basketball starts with a database of around 1,000 players and ends up "signing" around four every year. It is truly a monumental and refined undertaking.

Although all the coaches admitted that Ivy League recruiting is a difficult process, they did not feel that it resulted in a watering down of talent, at least not in all sports. Whelan, who sent two players to the Major Leagues last season, emphasized that he and his staff were trying to offer the "best experience in every way; that experience should include success on the playing field."

This whole process ends in when the recruits are, ideally, offered admission in December or April depending on when they elected to apply. For the coaches, this only means one thing -- the start of a new recruiting season. And the whole process begins anew.

Bob Note: Next year (2001), for the first time, Princeton is giving grants and eliminating the loan portion of their financial aid packages which makes their financial aid much more attractive than any of the other Ivies (more Ivies - i.e.. Harvard, will probably follow suit because they will lose the top athletes to Princeton since no one wants to have to come out of college with loans). This is still based on financial need of athlete.

Reprinted From:
Dartmouth Online

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