How much time do athletes typically have to respond?
If you are fortunate, you will receive a scholarship offer which brings up a whole new host of anxieties and confusion. How long do you have to respond? What if you are waiting on several coaches to offer you a scholarship offer? If you don’t respond immediately will you burn that bridge and miss out on a scholarship offer? What if your dream school doesn’t offer you a scholarship or even a roster spot? How does the athletic scholarship fit with the rest of the financial package? Will you be able to afford the college even with the scholarship?
What are verbal commitments?
There are two types of commitments in which you will have to respond to offers made by college coaches. There is the verbal commitment. This happens when a coach verbally offers you a scholarship and a roster spot. Verbal commitments can happen at any time before the date that the NCAA allows student athletes to commit in writing to a college. This day is known as National Signing Day. Verbal commitments should be taken seriously, however they are non binding for both the college and for you.
Many things can occur between your verbal commitment and National Signing Day. The most likely and often the most devastating to athletes who have verbally committed is when a coach leaves the college. When this happens, you no longer have an agreement. The next coach is under no obligation to honor verbal commitments. You are left with approaching the new coach, letting him/her know about your commitment and interest in their program and hoping they will honor the commitment.
When does a commitment become binding?
The second type of commitment is the National Letter of Intent. You will be able to commit in writing on National Signing Day or anytime after that during your senior year. This is binding. Once you have signed the school is committed to you and will honor your scholarship and place on the team, even if their is a coaching change. It is also binding for you. Once you have signed with a school, you no longer have the option to change your mind and decide to go to another school to compete.
What expectations do college coaches have when they extend you a scholarship offer?
If you are early in your high school years, coaches may give you more time to decide to verbally commit. When it comes to the National Letter of Intent you need to be ready to make a decision.
In When Can You Expect Scholarship Offers? we saw when college coaches offer scholarships varies, so do their expectations about how much time they give athletes to respond. Some coaches pressure as little as possible. Most coaches, however, have many athletes they are recruiting for a few roster spots. If they offer you a spot, it means they have to put another athlete on hold and risk losing that athlete if you say no. This means coaches usually have a short window for you to decide. Remember you are not that special.
Coaches obviously want you and have chosen you if they extend a scholarship offer, but they have a line of other athletes behind you that would gladly take the scholarship. If you decide to go somewhere else, they will move on. If you delay in your answering and have not communicated clearly with the coach why you are delaying, they will move on.
“It is difficult to say how much time an athlete has to respond once a scholarship has been offered. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the offer and the class of the student athlete.
Typically, the deciding factor comes down to the pressure the coach receives from the back up choices trying to make their decisions on schools. No one wants to be left without any options. However different coaches take different approaches as well. At SDSU it is our goal not to pressure because we want the Student Athlete to make an informed, comfortable decision. We want this decision to be right for the athlete and for us.”
“I am usually looking for an answer from a scholarship offer with 48 hours of the offer, but the most I have heard is a week.”
Most coaches will say that pressure is never a good reason to commit. You must feel comfortable and take time to make the right decisions. But there will be pressure because spots fill up. Here are some things you should do to get through this challenging situation:
- Communicate clearly with the coach what you need, what you are thinking, and when you would be able to make a decision.
- Communicate often with the coach and keep them up to date with your decision making process and timeline.
- Ask questions! You need to know exactly what the coach is thinking, what their timeline is, and how you fit into their recruiting and future needs.
“Typical response time is also varied. I think if a coach really wants a player, they will give them a decent amount of time to make an educated, well-informed decision. However, at some point the clock does start to tick. Coaches cannot afford to wait forever as we will lose other players. It is my belief that when a recruit is dragging out their response time, they aren’t really that interested in the offer and are looking for something better.”
“The back and forth after a scholarship is offered really depends on each school and each situation. It’s okay to ask ‘If I am ready to commit, are you ready to accept my commitment?‘ Every coach, every school does it differently. That’s why it’s important to ask questions.”
“Every coach is different on this but I have heard of some coaches placing 2-4 week timelines while others allow athletes to typically have as much time as they need. Pressure is never a good reason to commit to a coach or a program. It should be about the perfect fit!”
“The time an athlete has to respond depends on the coach. Some coaches offer 6 or 7 kids the scholarship they have and the first one who commits gets it. I never did this, but others definitely do.
I always felt after the Official visits were over, you didn’t need much more time to think about it, but I have waited a long, long time if I really wanted the player!”
“Each coach and school should give a time line as to when they expect a player to decide and make a commitment. Some coaches may say I have two/three offers out and the first who takes it gets it. I would not recommend committing to any school until you take an unofficial or official visit with your parents or coaches. Ask a bunch of questions to the coaches and players and see how you will fit in.”
Recruiting is all about relationships. Develop a relationship with the coach(es) you hope to play for, or you will never receive a scholarship offer. Coaches are not just looking for talented bodies. There are plenty of those. They are looking for young men or women that they would like to spend the next 4-5 years working with.
“Generally, by the time we offer someone a scholarship, the relationship has evolved enough to the point where the student-athlete in question should know within a matter of days whether to accept or not. If it takes longer than the agreed upon timeline, the athlete might appear to be exploring other options and/or using the offer of a scholarship to pressure other programs to do the same, which can create mistrust. Bottom line, however, is that every school has its own way of offering scholarships and each situation and/or year is unique. It goes back to communication and understanding the program’s needs for your given year. How many scholarships are available? Who are they looking to replace? Does your level and your personality meet the expectations of the coaches?”
Will you be the kind of recruit who coaches know? Or will you be just one of thousands who hope to be seen? Or one of the hundreds of faceless mass emails coaches receive each day?
You need to have a plan to get recruited. You need to take action. If you are in high school, you need to get moving today. Scholarships are limited and will run out. Roster spots with or without a scholarship are limited and will run out. It is true you must have talent to play at the college level. But there are lots of other kids with talent. You need to be the one talking and getting to know the college coaches.
Here is another great article about scholarships: 3 Reasons College Coaches Won’t Give You an Athletic Scholarship
If you want to be a college athlete…
If you are frustrated because coaches are not calling you…
Then the How to Get Recruited Guide will give you a step-by-step plan to turn your talent into offers. There’s a lot to learn about the recruiting process. How to Get Recruited condenses mountains of advice, and converts it to simple action steps that will get college coaches calling.
How to Get Recruited: Got Talent. Get a Plan. Get Recruited.
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