Once again honesty is the best policy. When coaches ask what other schools are recruiting you, just name the schools. There are actually two ways to be dishonest in answering the question. The first is to not tell which schools are recruiting you and the second is to lie about which ones are. Understanding why you shouldn’t do the former explains why some are tempted to do the latter.
One reason why some players and families are reluctant to name schools is that it already feels like the coach holds all the cards. Withholding the names provides a sense of control of the situation, a sort of “you’ve got your agenda and I’ve got mine” situation.
Tell them everyone wants you…
The problem is that such an attitude is usually counterproductive. If coaches know that players have other options, this encourages the coach to recruit even harder. The NCSA argues that “If the coach finds out that many other schools are recruiting you then you will immediately look like a better recruit. Try to let them know about schools that are similar to the one you are talking to.”
This is pretty much the standard advice in college recruiting:
RecruitLook: A coach will become more interested if they know other schools are in the mix. It shows that you are a solid recruit that is being targeted by the competition.
1,001 Recruit Tips: This quickly gives coaches a good idea of your ability, it’s a reference point for them. If other schools have already done their research on you and found SOMETHING in you, your ‘dream’ school may be more willing to take a look too.
Prepare for College: All college coaches want to know if other schools are interested in you. If other schools are interested, it shows the coach that you have the ability to play at the next level.
Another reason players may not want to answer “what other schools are recruiting you” is that they think that coaches may not recruit them as hard if they know the player has other options. Depending on the other options, this could be true. For example, a D2 coach might think a player isn’t serious about attending her school if she is also being seriously recruited by D1 schools.
However, in such a case, if a player has a good reason to consider the D2 school because of available programs, location, etc, the player should certainly let the coach know these reasons. The coach can than focus on selling the school’s other opportunities.
…because coaches don’t want to miss out…
Ultimately, a positive answer to “what other schools are recruiting you” shows that other coaches value you enough to recruit you which makes you a more attractive candidate. A coach wants to know what other schools are recruiting you as a way to judge your ability. Recruiting-101.com sums up the situation as “Athletic scholarships breed more athletic scholarships.”
…there was an athlete in the Class of 2014 who had a few smaller scholarship offers. While there were some good schools among the mix, they were not major Division I power programs. It seemed that a number of other schools continued to balk at offering him and fed him a lot of lines along the way.
The prospect decided to take a trip out to Penn State and see their campus. While on the trip, the prospect and his dad got a chance to speak with the legendary Joe Paterno. But before leaving, they ended up extending him a scholarship offer. This shows how confident Penn State was about him and their evaluation. They were the first major school to offer.
And once word got out about the offer, which it did because it was broadcast very well, his recruiting absolutely blew up. Within weeks, he is already up to double digit scholarship offers and more are on the way.
In a way, it’s a time saver for coaches. They rely on the expertise of other coaches to help identify talented prospects. If they haven’t already done their own review of your abilities, it’s notice that they should.
…but only if it’s TRUE that other schools are recruiting you!
Knowing that having other offers makes a recruit look more valuable, some players may be tempted to make up offers that don’t actually exist. This is not a smart move. RecruitLook explains that chances are you’ll be caught, “As competitive as the recruiting game and game days are, college coaches are a tight group. They all hang and run in the same crowds, and even though they might not personally know one another, they know somebody that knows them.”
Athnet’s Guide to Communicating with College Coaches lists 5 lies that recruits tell coaches with the first one being “Making up scholarship offers.” Their advice:
making up a scholarship offer just to try and drive the price up on another program is a huge no-no. Coaches talk to one another and one way or the other they will confirm your scholarship offer, if they found out you lied of course they won’t be offering you a scholarship and neither will the school you made up.
Another thing to remember, this advice has been about getting recruited, not necessarily about scholarship offers. I Love to Watch You Play warns athletes that:
If you are talking to multiple schools with multiple offers coming in, you MIGHT have a little bit of leverage to ask for a better offer, but tread VERY carefully. Some coaches will react negatively to being pressured by better offers from other programs. Never lie or even bend the truth when discussing other schools and offers. Coaches will not hesitate to call up their counterparts to check your story.
At the very least, make sure you’re being recruited before you start negotiating scholarship offers.
Finally, what if there aren’t any other schools recruiting you? Given everything I’ve just said, this would seem to be a more serious problem. Again, no reason to lie. Playced.com suggests the following possible responses: “you could say ‘I am just starting to communicate with some schools’ or ‘I am waiting to hear back from several colleges.’” After all, “Everyone wants to date the popular girl/boy and every coach wants to sign the popular recruit.”
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