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Feature Story : for May 26, 2001,

Below is an article discussing college recruiting and what coaches pay attention to.

The point being, recruiting services and talent showcases are not used much by college coaches in finding recruits.  What does work is a hand written personal letter from the student/athlete, also, written letters from the high school or summer league coach,  with names of scouts that have seen the student/athlete play.  Exposure is greatly enhanced for the student/athlete to attend a baseball camp at the campus of the school he has interest in attending.

 

(Appeared in Feb. 6, 1998 edition of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.  Reprinted with the express permission of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.)

Division 1 Baseball Coaches Discuss Recruiting Services & Talent Showcases

By JOHN WINKIN
Columnist/Collegiate Baseball Newspaper

BANGOR, Maine — At the recent ABCA convention, it was suggested to me by various coaches that I should address, in this column, some college baseball coaches’ concerns that seem to be out there.  This column, thus, will be directed towards pointing out awareness of some of these concerns. I am not sure any conclusions or answers will necessarily be the outcome. At least they will be out there for possible suggestions or resolutions in the future.

Concern No. 1

    At the meeting of Division I coaches in January, the question was asked whether anyone was using the recruiting profile that is mailed to baseball coaches. It was pointed out that there is an ever-increasing amount of mailings of these recruiting profiles!  The question as raised was “simply requesting feedback from Division I coaches on whether anyone used or is receptive to the need of the many profile recruiting groups emerging throughout our country.” Only one coach in that meeting responded that he “occasionally” makes use of these profiles.
    At the convention’s closing meeting of the ABCA Board of Directors, President Gary Pullins reported to the Board of Directors on the issues raised and discussed in each Division meeting. This question was then directed to the active coaches on the board. Once again only one coach on that board indicated “once in a while” use of these recruiting profiles.
   As one member of the board, Mark Johnson from Texas A&M pointed out: “Because each individual student/athlete is charged for this service, they should know that this means for exposure is not the answer. The best source of written exposure would be from the high school or summer league coach, a personal letter from the student/athlete, and names of scouts that have seen the student/athlete play.  Obviously, exposure is greatly enhanced for the student/athlete to attend a baseball camp at the campus of the school he has interest in attending.”
    Johnson reports to me that he receives, on average, 20 profiles a week from an ever-increasing number of such services nationally. I am sure that’s consistent with what I was accustomed to in my fairly recent years as a Division I coach at the University of Maine.
    On my return home, I contacted Jay Kemble, who was my recruiting coordinator for seven years, for an up-to-date input from his perspective. Kemble reports that in recent years from 15 to 20 recruiting services nationwide have been sending to the University of Maine profiles on student/athletes who are sophomores, juniors or seniors in high school as well as students in junior college. Like Johnson at Texas A&M, these have been coming at the rate of at least 20 per week — sometimes more.
    John Kolasinski, Husson College coach, an NAIA institution, tells me he received profiles nationwide from a number of recruiting services as the rate of at least 30 per month. He searches through these profiles for student/athletes that come from New England and who indicate some interest in the academic areas that fit the Husson curriculum.
    So where are we in all this? First, the many recruiting services are out to make money. Student/athletes are spending money for what they consider greater exposure and, most of all, a chance to get a baseball scholarship.  Baseball coaches, however, now are so overwhelmed with the number of profiles that it’s becoming a problem.
    Kemble points out several things. First, it’s hard to determine who is doing the evaluating of each student/athlete, thus, concerns about the credibility of the ratings or evaluations.  Second, the student/athlete is possibly being mislead into what these services will do for them.  Third, baseball scholarships actually are very limited because of the equivalence involved and are in most cases not a likely outcome. Finally, as Kemble points out “the money spent for such a service may not be with what one gets for it.”
    As was in my personal use of these profiles as a coach, my guess is most coaches most likely limit their use of these profiles to searching for regional or local names to follow up on with a letter or telephone call. My experience surely tells me that coaches have a good handle on (1) whom they plan to recruit, (2) to whom to recommend for some form of scholarship award and/or who they will try to sign to a letter of intent.
     I took a walk with new Princeton Coach Scott Bradley in San Diego, and he already, as a first year coach, had a great knowledge of who the quality players were in the state of Maine, who could academically qualify for Princeton, and who was worth recruiting. Good programs know who the good players are.
     Certainly too many parents are spending money on something that has become (1) overwhelming for coaches to handle; (2) somewhat misleading for what such services can accomplish; (3) and most of all, little hope for a scholarship outcome.  There may be better ways to accomplish the goal. A letter or call of interest always certainly meant the most to me. Next, a letter or call from the baseball coach or scout certainly always has been a huge help. That gets the priority follow-up from the coach that one is looking for.

 

Concern No. 2

     This was raised by Andy Baylock, the Hall of Fame University of Connecticut baseball coach, at the same Division I meeting in San Diego. This concern dealt with the increasing number of showcases being held. Baylock’s particular worry dealt with the great number of showcases being held on fall weekends.
     He pointed to two problems: First, that high school athletes participating in fall sports are leaving their teams during that fall sport’s season to go to showcases (the problem it creates for high school fall sports coaches — the test of loyalty, etc., involved). Second, the risk of injury involved, (particularly an arm injury to the player who is playing football, for example, and has had minimal baseball readiness for that showcase the players goes to).
     There is no question — showcases can be very valuable. As Kemble points out, “Some showcases are excellent at deciphering quality players and when the organizing outfit has done their homework on each player. When well done and the number of repetitions and quality experiences are available to each participant a player can be fairly judged.”
     One cannot argue that. There is nothing better than judging a hitter against decent  pitching and/or judging a pitcher against reasonably good hitting.  However, again, while the showcase idea is good, the urge to make a killing financially is blowing this good idea out of proportion. There are so many showcases now and most of them with too many participants that many participants are not getting the quality experience they are paying money to get.
     The number of showcases further has created a tough problem. Too many parents and student/athletes are no longer loyal to the baseball program they should be loyal to. Summer amateur programs are certainly encountering a lot of this. As one coach told me, “The big problem now is that most showcases have so many players there that they do not accomplish what I am trying to see in players — enough quality experiences against quality competition.”  This coach further points out “student/athletes are being misled because they actually do not get the number of repetitions and experiences to be fairly judged. It may not always be worth the money spent.”
     In summary and substance maybe there needs to be greater planning for quality results rather than bulk money driven outcomes in these recruiting exposure ventures. They would then serve customers well for the money spent.

(Appeared in Feb. 6, 1998 edition of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.  Reprinted with the express permission of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.)


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