The truth about college sports

Many students have misconceptions about college athletic programs, but here is the truth about Division I, II and III.

The truth about college sports

Myth: If you are good enough, coaches will find you.
Reality: There are too many players and too few coaches for every player to get exposure. Plus, many coaches have small recruiting budgets, which can make it difficult to see many players in person.

Myth: Division I programs have big recruiting budgets.
Some of the larger schools with top-notch football and basketball programs do have large recruiting budgets, but most schools do not. There are very few coaches who have the ability to fly around the country to recruit players.

Myth: Division III schools are weaker athletically.
Reality: In some cases yes, but in many cases no. Often, players at Division III schools are there to get an education first and play athletics second. But they are still talented, dedicated athletes who want to continue their athletic careers in college. If you think you can just stroll into a DIII program, you are in for a surprise.

Myth: All colleges offer athletic scholarships.
Only Division I and II colleges can offer athletic scholarships. Division III programs cannot offer athletes athletic scholarship money, and many DI and DII teams have little athletic scholarship money to offer.

Myth: Most athletes get a full scholarship or no scholarship.
Reality: Full athletic scholarships are very rare. Most coaches divide up scholarship money between several players.

Myth: Division I programs do not offer walk-on tryouts.
Reality: Though walking onto the Kentucky basketball team will be pretty difficult, many coaches rely on walk-ons and will usually conduct tryouts to give as many athletes a chance as possible.
Myth: All Division I and II programs have scholarships available.
Reality: Though the NCAA mandates how many scholarships a school can offer for a particular sport, it is up to the school whether or not they want to and can offer the number of scholarships allotted to them.

Myth: If you receive a letter from a coach, you are being recruited.
Coaches send out thousands of letters to players they may or may not have heard of. There are probably 500 other people tearing open the same exact letter you are. Receiving a letter means a coach knows your name. Respond to the letter and follow up with the coach. Until the coach calls you and tells you he is interested in you or invites you to the school, the letters mean very little.

Myth: Recruiting companies give me a better shot at being recruited.
Reality: Some recruiting companies offer families the guidance and assistance they need to make better decisions. Other companies simply take your money and e-mail and fax out résumés to thousands of schools in hopes that you get recruited. If a recruiting company does not help you identify your talent and help you focus on programs that would be a good fit, they will not help you succeed in the recruiting process. If you do not have the grades and talent to play in college, using a recruiting company will not really benefit you.

Myth: College coaches only recruit top players.
College coaches recruit anyone they think can play at their program and who shows an interest in their program. Just because you are not the star of your team does not mean you cannot play in college.

Myth: Playing sports in college isn’t much different than high school.
Reality: Playing college athletics is an unbelievable commitment in time and dedication. It will be nowhere close to your high school experience. In college, you will play or practice for three seasons—fall, winter and spring—and be required to do lifting and running programs as well. You may also be practicing at 6 a.m. or midnight or even twice a day.

Dave Galehouse ( and Ray Lauenstein are authors of The Making of a Student Athlete: Succeeding in the College Selection and Recruiting Process.



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