NCSA Recruiting: Why you should consider joining a new college sports team

NCSA Recruiting: Why you should consider joining a new college sports team

NCSA Recruiting

NCSA Recruiting: Why you should consider joining a new college sports team

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. Jason Smith is a former NCAA DIII athlete and college coach at all three division levels. Jason is just one of many former college and professional athletes, 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.

From coach turnover to newly created programs, college athletics always seem to be changing. In fact, 10 years ago, the NCAA recorded a total of 412,768 athletes participating in college sports. And today, there are more than 480,000 NCAA college-athletes.

More often than not, when high school athletes think about playing in college, they picture their dream school — the powerhouse you see on ESPN. But there are several opportunities out there, including D3 and NAIA, that offer roster spots. And each year, you’ll even find new college programs popping up looking for an entire team to recruit.

While joining a brand-new program comes with its own set of struggles as the coach is continuously trying to build and strengthen the team, it can also be an extremely rewarding experience. And for some student-athletes, it’s a great way to earn playing time and participate in college athletics. Here are a few reasons you may want to consider a newly-founded college sports program:

Roster spots are available

Whether you started the recruiting process late or are having a hard time getting interest from college coaches, you’ll increase your chances of getting recruited by considering new programs that have several roster spots available. These coaches work extremely hard to fill each spot and find recruits who are interested in joining a new team. If you’re the right fit athletically and academically, and you show the college coach your interest in their program, you may find them more responsive than other college coaches.

Read more: How to find your best college match

More playing time possible

New programs offer a unique experience in that they level the playing field for every athlete. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a junior — everyone is compared to equally when it comes to playing time. Established college programs, on the other hand, usually start upperclassmen and freshman need to work their way up. But new programs give you a pretty fair chance at earning your spot on the team. And if playing time is important factor in your college decision, this can be a great opportunity for you.

Read more: Which division is right for you?

The coach has something to prove

It’s no secret college coaches are a dedicated, passionate group, especially coaches in new positions. Remember that unlike high school, college athletics is a business and the coach’s job is dependent upon the team’s performance. A coach starting from scratch and building a team is most likely someone who will be very invested in the school and program. Plus, being a part of the team’s foundation can be just as rewarding for student-athletes. You may also find yourself carrying the coach’s sentiment of having something to prove. And when the team is successful, it will feel even more worth it.

If you’re interested in learning more about new college programs, here are some that have popped up in the last couple of years.

Football

New in 2020
Madonna University (NAIA), Livonia, Mich.

New in 2019
Clarke University (NAIA), Dubuque, Iowa
Thomas University (NAIA), Miami Gardens, Fla.

New in 2018
Allen University (NAIA), Columbia, S.C.
Alvernia University (NCAA D3), Reading, Pa.
Indiana Wesley University (NAIA), Marion, Ind.
Keiser University (NAIA), West Palm Beach, Fla.
Lawrence Technological University (NAIA), Southfield, Mich.
Ottawa University-Arizona (NAIA), Surprise, Ariz.
University of New England (NCAA D3), Biddeford, Maine

Wrestling

Wrestling continues to grow across the country. Here are a few new programs:

Alderson Broaddus University, Philippi, W. Va.
Women’s wrestling
New in 2018
D2

Corban University in Salem, Oregon
Men’s wrestling
New in 2018
NAIA

Lander University, Greenwood, S.C.
Men’s wrestling
New in 2018
D2

University of Arkansas—Little Rock, Little Rock, Ark.
Men’s wrestling
New in 2018
D1

Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colo.
Women’s wrestling
New in 2018
D2

Presbyterian College, Clinton, S.C.
Men’s and women’s wrestling
New in 2018
D1

Other sports

Mary Baldwin University, Staunton, Va.
Men’s soccer, cross country, tennis and track and field
New in 2018 (recently transitioned to a co-ed institution)
Currently listed as club sports but hoping to move to D3 shortly

Goldy-Beacom College, Wilmington, Del.
Baseball
New in 2017
D2

University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
Baseball, Women’s Lacrosse
New in 2018
D1

Park University, Gilbert, Ariz.
12 new sports
New in 2018
NAIA

Erskine College, Due West, S.C.
Beach volleyball, track and field, acrobatics and tumbling
New in 2019
D2

University of Tennessee—Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Beach volleyball
New in 2019
D1

St. Francis College, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Women’s soccer
New in 2019
D1

Louisiana State University—Shreveport, Shreveport, La.
Women’s Soccer
New in 2017
NAIA

Michigan Bay College, Escanaba, Mich.
Baseball
New in 2018
Junior College 

Gogebic Community College, Ironwood, Mich.
Baseball
New in 2018
Junior College

Boise State University, Boise, Idaho
Baseball
New in 2020
D1

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
Softball
New in 2019
D3

Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.
Softball
New in 2020
D1

Mid Michigan College, Harrison, Mich.
Baseball and softball
New in 2019
Junior College

University of Michigan—Dearborn, Dearborn, Mich.
Baseball
New in 2017
NAIA

University of St. Thomas, Houston
Baseball
New in 2020
D3

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