A Lost Generation? COVID-19 and Athletic Recruiting

The coronavirus crisis of 2020 is now about to stretch into its third month of lockdown, and the global educational landscape is still reeling. From testing to extracurricular activities to even school visits, every element of students’ college application process has been shut down. Perhaps the single most impacted field, however, is that which itself takes place on one: athletic recruitment.

No In-Person Sport Recruiting in Spring 2020

With schools closed to in-person learning and activities both, student-athletes suddenly find themselves drowning in free time, and not in a good way. No games mean no videotapes of performance to send to college recruiters, let alone the opportunity to play for them in person. Indeed, the NCAA has now extended a dead period for recruitment to last until May 31, 2020, and will likely extend it further if the country does not begin to open by that date. What will this mean? Will there be a lost generation of college athletes as recruitment is shut down for a year and not only high school juniors but sophomores and even freshmen cannot demonstrate their abilities?

Will Athletic Recruiting Continue?

For now, the answer seems to be “No.” While many colleges are more concerned with planning for the entrance of their classes of 2024 this coming autumn, admissions departments continue their outreach to students, and this does include athletic recruitment. In conjunction with extending its dead period, the NCAA also extended eligibility to athletes of those sports currently most affected by the lockdowns, especially basketball. High school coaches around the country are also working overtime to sell their charges to college coaches, even sending videos and metrics of workouts in the absence of actual game footage.

High School Coaches are the Key for Athletic Recruitment

So what does this mean for athletes of the high school Class of 2021? Perhaps most importantly, it means that a close relationship with their coach has never been more important. An All-American athlete whose coach does not go to the mat lobbying for them may in fact have less success with recruiting this year than a solid athlete whose coach is calling every university in the book for them. Athletes with better academics, too, could see abnormally high recruitment rates, as they will prove less a risk to university metrics.

While athletic recruitment seems healthy, or at least not dying, for now, it is easy to imagine that its future could well turn bleak. If some of the worse predictions concerning COVID-19 and extended periods of lockdown come to pass, it is hard to imagine schools will guarantee spots and dish out ever-dwindling reserves of financial aid to students who will fill a team the university may not even be able to field. Only time will tell. 

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Tags: Higher Education, College, College Counseling, College Admissions, College Applications, Athletics, Athletes, Student-Athletes, Athletic Recruitment, Summer Planning, Sports, Sports Recruitment