The goal of any high school athlete who has college aspirations is to ultimately earn a scholarship at the next level. That means the athlete will get their college paid for and allow them to leave college with few to no loans. Because I am someone who went to a smaller college to play sports and incurred debt with student loans, it really is a dream to be able to leave college without any other financial obligations. But regarding a scholarship, I recently received a question as to how they were presented to athletes.
When trying to answer that question, there is no specific one way that they occur. There basically are two different kinds, verbal and written scholarship offers. While neither of them really means a whole lot, having a written scholarship offer at least shows that they have put in writing that they want to offer you a scholarship. As a recruited athlete, that is what you are looking for in the football recruiting or basketball recruiting process. Here are a few ways how they are presented.
Because the fall is a perfect time for college coaches to call recruits, one way that an athlete is offered a scholarship is verbally over the phone. Out of the others that I will address, this is nice to have but most coaches will flirt around the issue and sometimes try not to make it clear that there is an offer on the table. As a recruit, if they are talking about it but not being 100% specific, I would ask them about it. It is important in the recruiting process to get the truth so it is vital that you ask them to see what they say. If they avoid talking about it, then you probably don’t have an offer at the time and they may be waiting on other recruits to decide. If they come out and say it, the offer is then on the table and you could commit at that moment.
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Another verbal offer comes when a player is on campus. I have heard many stories of top junior prospects visiting the in-state school. During their trip, they get a chance to meet with the head coach at the school. Because it means more in person and from the head coach, that head coach will offer you a scholarship while you are right there. This is probably the most dramatic of all of the ways because it is likely a big named coach that you are learning more about and he thinks enough of you to offer a scholarship in person. Chances are slim that this coach would change his mind about the offer so feel confident in this one. If he tells you that he would really like you at their school and not much else, it is not an offer. Wait to hear the word scholarship before getting excited.
The other big way that scholarships are offered is through the mail. This written method is the most legit out of all of them. Basically the coaches think enough about you that they are going to put on paper that they want you to come to their school and have a scholarship offer waiting for you. Obviously if you don’t decide, other recruits can take the offer and that means your letter means nothing. If I had to pick, this would be the most legit of all offers because it is on paper and not something you hear. There have been some interesting stories that I have heard regarding recruits and their first letter from a school is a written offer. It is nice to have an offer as an athlete but where have they been during the recruiting process?
Those are the big three ways that scholarships are extended by college coaches. Like I said, on the phone is the toughest to determine. As I have said before, Recruiting is a Game. What I mean by that, which you will see in the previously linked article, is that these coaches have to recruit a wide base of players. If options A and B fall through, they still have to have option C on the line. You may be option C and they are waiting for A and B to decide. While most coaches won’t flat out lie to you, they may extend the truth a little bit and skirt about the subject of offers. They will say things like we really want you here but we need to see senior tape, we only have x amount of scholarships, or they may be honest and say they are waiting on other recruits. It really just depends on the situation but realize that these coaches need to keep all of their options open in recruiting in case things don’t go so well with the recruiting process.