One of the most important responsibilities as a Varsity head coach I believe is to prepare players for play at the college level. In particular, for NCAA Div1, mens or womens, there are some very specific tasks that as an educator I think puts the head coach at the unique position to educate both parents and the player on how the process works especially academically.

As a former writer for Rivals, I've seen many different sides of recruiting, some good, some bad. The AAU coach has become a lot more influential more recently but in my opinion high school coaches should hold more sway. Simply for the reason that the high school coach is usually a certified teacher at an educational institution and therefore is in a more professional position to be advising students on academic affairs. That is not to say that AAU coaches should have no role, but I don't think they should the primary point of contact, because they are not accountable to anybody, there is a higher chance for a conflict of interest developing as a result.

Having said that, here are some notes that I read recently that deal specifically with college academic eligibility for athletic scholarships that hopefully will shed a little more light on the recruiting process and what a head coach can do to facilitate the process:

If you are fortunate to ever have a player who can play at the next level, you will hear immediately: “Is he/she qualified academically.” The worst thing we can say is, “I am not sure.” Foremost, a player must fulfill certain academic requirements to be eligible at the Division 1,2,3, and NAIA levels. Always remember, if a player is not qualified, there may be an opportunity lying ahead at the Junior College levels. The common mantra is that JC’s do not afford quality academic and athletic atmospheres for student-athletes. This is simply untrue. In fact, there are many outstanding coaches and programs at the JUCO level and this opportunity must not be ignored. This may be the only path for the student-athlete to succeed and the competition is at an extremely high level. There are four important steps to take in making sure a student-athlete is at least afforded the opportunity to qualify for college:

1. Make sure the senior registers for the NCAA Clearinghouse ( This organization plugs the student’s GPA in the 14 Core Classes to help determine eligibility. Not sure if a certain class is a core class—the site has a program that finds out exactly what courses at your high school count. Note: the NCAA is requiring 16 core classes for the class of ’08.

2. Make sure your student athlete takes the SAT/ACT in the spring of his/her Junior year. The higher the core GPA—the lower the score needed to qualify and vice versa. All score requirements are posted at the above website. One important notice—the SAT now has a writing component. This part is not counted in the NCAA Clearinghouse. Simply add the critical reading and math scores and that is the SAT score according to the clearinghouse.

3. Keep checking on your student’s progress. Does he/she need to raise the SAT/ACT score? Is the student going to need to take the test again? Does the athlete have enough core courses to qualify? Although guidance counselors are very skilled at their jobs, most are unfamiliar with the NCAA qualification process. We need to check ourselves to make sure business is being taken care of by the student.

4. Be helpful with interested colleges. If they need transcripts, contact the guidance department and furnish them with one. If you do not help the colleges, they will think you are hiding something.

While some of these guidelines may seem trivial, I can guarantee you they are of the utmost importance. I spent many a day during my recruiting days pulling my hair out nervously awaiting a transcript only to find the student did not have the correct amount of core courses, or the SAT score was computed incorrectly.

Credit to Coach Tommy Penders from Texas.