This is an opportunity for readers of this newsletter to anonymously ask me a question about any aspect of student recruitment, leadership, and professional or personal development. Each week I’ll post my answer for everyone to read.
Q. A College Coach who reads my newsletter asks:
“What do I do to get the admissions dept and the athletic department on the same page when it comes to recruiting athletes?”
A. Thank you for your question! Just about every time I work with a small college that has Division 3 athletics (i.e. no athletic scholarships) this question gets brought up.
Let me start by offering some context for those reading this response that might not be aware of my background. For 8 years (2004-2012) I was a college basketball coach on the men’s side (the first 2 years at a Division 3 private college and the remaining 6 years at two different Division 2 institutions).
Very little has changed with regards to the admissions-athletics relationship. On a lot of college campuses it’s still “broken.” The biggest complaints that I hear most often from both sides are the same ones I heard when I was a coach – Admission staffs are worried that coaches will only talk about their sport and not offer the full picture and value of the college, specifically during the campus tour. Coaches are worried that anything they take across campus to the admissions office will get mishandled.
Quite honestly, the only way you’re going to get both departments on the same page is for the leadership (Director of Admissions and the Athletic Director) to make this is a priority for both of their staffs. It can’t just be talk from both sides, there has to be action and a clear understanding of how/why working together will benefit everyone.
In terms of a quicker solution that can produce long-term value and get the ball rolling, consider this idea that I’ve seen work at the Division 2, 3, and NAIA levels – Each admissions counselor is responsible for one or more sports. The counselor works closely with those coaches, including monthly or possibly even bi-weekly meetings between him/her and an assistant coach, specifically the recruiting coordinator if that position exists. The gist of those meetings should be updates from both sides on what’s happening around campus/in their sport, as well as process or rule changes so that both departments are armed with the same knowledge and facts to use.
I would also add that the schools I see doing it best (admissions/athletics working together) are ones where the coaches handle a majority of the recruiting communications, and the admissions office/counselors becomes more of an aid that assists with process driven activities (ex. paperwork). All of our research continues to show that a coach and his/her players need to develop a positive recruiting relationship with a prospective student athlete otherwise the chances of that prospect coming to your school (even if you’re the least expensive option) drastically decrease.
What I’ve given you is just the tip of the iceberg. Always remember that open communication between departments solves/avoids A LOT of problems. You’re all on the same team and everyone needs to constantly be reminded of that.