USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Joe is a former college-athlete and coach at the NAIA level, where he earned an NAIA National Championship. Joe is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Let’s say your student-athlete received interest from a college coach. They’ve emailed back-and-forth—maybe even talked on the phone—and things seem to be looking up. Then suddenly, without warning, the coach stops responding. Your son or daughter follows up with an email, phone call, text—but still, nothing. Now your family is left obsessing over an email inbox wondering, “What the heck happened?”
It’s frustrating, we know. But sometimes it’s just the way things go with recruiting. To shed a little light on the situation, here are a few reasons a college coach may have stopped responding to your student-athlete—and what your family should do next.
They finalized their roster
After coaches solidify each roster spot, they may decide to halt recruiting, especially if they’re no longer evaluating prospects, and focus solely on their upcoming season. Really in most cases where communication is cut off without warning, this is probably why.
While some coaches reach back out to student-athletes they were in contact with and let them know they’re no longer recruiting, others don’t. Maybe they have limited resources, or their schedules are just too packed. Either way, if a coach has stopped their communication with your child all together, it’s most likely due to the fact that they’re no longer looking for student-athletes.
They moved on to other recruits
Thanks to social media, texting, and emailing, the recruiting world is moving faster than ever. For example, we recently heard of an athlete who received a personal email from a college coach, responded, but never heard back. After a little digging, we learned that the athlete waited nearly two weeks to reply. In a coach’s mind, no response means no interest. Therefore, they likely moved on to other recruits.
Remember that some college coaches have hundreds of athletes at the top of their recruiting funnel and they narrow down their list of prospects by gauging who’s interested in their program. So, it’s always smart to respond to a college coach in a timely fashion.
Learn more about the recruiting funnel: How The College Recruiting Process Works
They experienced a coaching change
It’s possible that the college coach your family was in contact with is no longer with the university. Coach turnover is much more common than you think, and it happens for a variety of reasons. They could have been fired or hired elsewhere, or perhaps they decided to retire or make a career change. Turnover happens most commonly at the end of a season. If your family isn’t hearing back from a coach who contacted you, always do a quick check to make sure they’re still there.
Learn more about coach turnover: The Coach Who Recruited You Leaves the Program—Now What?
What you and your athlete can do
Always make sure your athlete is following up promptly when they are contacted by a coach. Any delay could signal they are not interested, or not taking their recruiting seriously.
Second, be sure your student-athlete’s communications didn’t just fall through the cracks. After they’ve tried emailing, texting and calling the coach they were previously in contact with, they should try reaching out to another staff member, such as a recruiting coordinator or assistant. College coaches are extremely busy, especially when they’re in season, and it’s possible they just didn’t get a chance to reach back out to your athlete. Contacting another person in the program can help you be sure.
You may want to think about leveraging your student-athlete’s current coach as well. High school and club coaches tend to have connections and if they’ve spoken with this college coach before, they may be able to get a hold of them for you. This is especially true for underclassmen looking at Division I and II schools. Because of NCAA regulations, college coaches often contact high school or club coaches first to learn more about a recruit. It’s worth a shot!
But, if despite all your efforts, you still haven’t received word, take a fresh look at your athlete’s recruiting. It’s easy to feel short-changed and disappointed when the possibility of being recruited fades away, but remember the end goal in all of this—finding a university that is the right match for your athlete. When your child commits to a program, they should feel like they’re an integral part of the team and have something to contribute. Really, they should feel special. And to be honest, sending a coach 20 emails hoping they’ll get back doesn’t make a person feel great. Instead, focus on other colleges that your family can be excited about.