College Athlete Recruiting During COVID-19


Catherine Chan, Staff Writer

If the pandemic has not made playing sports difficult enough, it has certainly made the college athlete recruitment process even more challenging. Many high school student athletes have been unable to participate, let alone have had the opportunity to demonstrate their athletic ability to potential college recruiters who typically visit high school games. Games, tournaments, and training camps have been cancelled for high school students across the country.

In this ambiguous year, student athletes have practiced in the very sanctuary of their homes, if they have had enough space to practice. It has been a restless and uncertain time for everyone. Because of the pandemic, 47% of student athletes worry that their scholarships are at risk, according to a recent T-D Ameritrade survey. 

Before the pandemic, over 180,000 students relied on sports’ scholarships to help finance their education each year, but the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) has implemented a recruiting dead period until April 2021. A dead period indicates a time where coaches are not allowed to have face-to-face interaction or contact with college-bound student athletes or their parents. They also may not watch student athletes compete or visit their high schools.

Furthermore, the NCAA has already extended a year of eligibility for current college athletes to play their sports. However, due to COVID-19, states like California, New Mexico, and North Carolina are playing on a modified schedule. Meanwhile, other states such as Utah, Kansas, and Alabama are playing with no changes to their schedule in their sports season.

As the unexpected loss from the pandemic created severe budget cuts for university athletic departments across the country, Richard Southall, Director of the College Sport Research Institute and Professor of Sports and Entertainment Management at the University of South Carolina, anticipates university athletics will need to look long and hard at their budgets for the upcoming year.

“Individual athletic departments are going to have to grapple with the issues of, why do we have so many sports? Why should a sport be a varsity sport instead of a club sport?” said Southall. “Colleges and universities are going to have to make decisions on travel budgets, and coaching salaries and equipment and all of these capital investments in new buildings and so on.”

In the end, it is uncertain when or if athletic scholarships will ever fully be back to normal. College teams, from volleyball to track, were cut as early as April 2020 because of budgetary or school closures associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps one day, sports programs lost to the pandemic will be reinstated. The good news is that there are still universities that intend to maintain their sports programs.

Regardless of these obstacles, students are still trying to find ways to stand out in colleges and get noticed. Some ways that student athletes have been gaining exposure include setting up Zoom meetings with college recruiters, attending livestream camps, and uploading videos showing their skills online.