What does a camp invite mean?

One of the things that I have mentioned in articles but not really talked about is the meaning of a football or basketball camp invite. While I don’t want to dash the dreams of an athlete to play Division I sports, I want athletes and parents to know the realistic truths behind how much an invite to a camp means.

A few years back, I profiled an athlete who was a talented all district wide receiver who was able to make some big plays as a junior. I was told that the big school in state personally invited him to attend their camps in hopes that he could receive a scholarship offer. While it is pretty obvious any school with ethics would not promise an offer, my guess would be that those athletic scholarships are not extended very often. Anyways, the athlete attended the camp and guess where he ended up at the college level? The answer is playing junior college baseball.

That example shows that just because you have received a personal invite, it does not mean they are really serious about you in the recruiting process. While coaches at the major Division I level do get paid well, these programs use this money to boast their pay. For example, if there was a graduate assistant working eighty hours a week all year, this might be the time that the head coach pays him back in a way by giving him a few thousand dollars in recognition for the hard work that he has done.

So if you realize that this money is likely going to help the coaching staff, it shows that the more kids they get there, the better chance that they have to increase the pay of their coaching staff. This happens at all levels, from Division III to Division I but the larger schools are the ones that really make the push towards inviting lots of kids. It really doesn’t matter if you are on their radar or not because it is a no lose situation for the school. If you decide to come to the camp and pay the $300 to $500 to get in, they are getting paid regardless. If you are the best camper overall and really shock the coaches, which eventually leads to a scholarship, that helps the coaches in the recruiting process.

These coaches really are usingza lot of the camp to weed out prospective athletes that they are looking at in the recruiting process as well. But with most camps, the amount of athletic scholarship offers extended is very, very small. So keep that in mind when receiving an invite to a camp that costs $400 for a week. Like I said, the more athletes at the camp, the better for the coaching staff.

While I am being somewhat negative about these invites, here is a great story from Rivals.com about an athlete who was not recruited until he decided to travel the country and attended camps:

“This year, Tech’s hoping to have some similar luck with another Metroplex star. He was barely a blip on most recruiting services’ radars, made huge splashes during camps at places like USC and Florida, which led to offers, which led to him becoming one of the hottest commodities on the recruiting market right now. But he is not just a hot commodity on the recruiting trail, he’s doing well on the field as well.”

He came into the summer without much recruiting interest but left with football scholarship offers from USC, Florida, Penn State, Texas Tech, and some of the top programs in the country. This does show that the number rated team in the country, USC, uses theses camps to extend scholarship offers. So while the odds are against you as an athlete, it does happen when a player like him goes to Southern Cal and shocks the coaching staff while on campus.

I also heard a story this past summer about a player holding a Division I-AA scholarship offer and getting looks by a Division I-A school in-state. The coaches told him that if he went to their camp, he would get a scholarship offer. Things didn’t turn out as well as this player had hoped and he left the camp without an offer. Weeks went by and he has heard very little from this school since. This was after they had told him on the phone that if he came to the camp, they would offer him an athletic scholarship. Keep that in mind before paying that big money up front.

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