“Pay Me Thousands Of Dollars And I’ll Get You A College Scholarship”

If you cut through all the bull, this is essentially what college recruiting firms are saying. Companies like College Prospects of America, National College Scouting Association, and Cardinal Sports Management do all but guarantee a college scholarship for high school athletes in return for a substantial sum of money. The services these firms perform seems to be a combination of one or more of sending out player profiles, highlight tapes, and academic information to any number of college programs. Of course, this begs several questions. Does the company actually procure the scholarship? Is it worth paying that much money? Is it worth paying any money at all?

Below is a letter from one of the recruiting firms that was sent to one of my advising clients. Take a gander and meet me after the jump…

Now, part of my job as an advisor for my hockey clients is to find the best possible college team for them (assuming they want to play college hockey). There are a lot of factors that play into finding the best team for a particular player, but I won’t get into those now. Furthermore, my clients don’t and cannot pay for my services if they want to maintain college eligibility. Essentially, I do everything that the college recruiting firm does, except I don’t do it in return for immediate payment, I do it on a more personal level, and with a lot more first-hand knowledge about my client on all levels.

A couple caveats there. One, my services aren’t exactly free. The idea is that I do hundreds of hours of work with an expectation that I will be the one negotiating my clients’ future professional contracts from which I will receive a commission. Secondly, you might be asking why a future student-athlete can pay a college recruiting firm to market him or her to college teams but can’t pay me. The answer is two-fold. First, NCAA Bylaws expressly allow prospective student-athletes to hire and pay “talent evaluation services and agents” to distribute personal information to college teams as long as the fee paid to that service is not contingent upon the prospective student-athlete obtaining a scholarship. This is the same NCAA Bylaw that allows me to perform the same service, as long as my client doesn’t sign a contract with me. Also, the standard in the hockey advising and representation industry is that advisors do not charge for their amateur advising services. So, if I charge my clients for amateur advising, they might as well just go to another advisor who doesn’t collect a fee for the same.

  • Brian

    Hmmm….

    “The idea is that I do hundreds of hours of work with an expectation that I will be the one negotiating my clients’ future professional contracts from which I will receive a commission.”

    NCAA Bylaw 12.3.1.1: An individual shall be ineligible per Bylaw 12.3.1, if he or she enters into a verbal or written agreement with an agent for representation in future professional sports negotiations that are to take place after the individual has completed his or her eligibility in that sport.

    • An one-sided expectation is certainly distinguished from a two-sided verbal/written agreement contemplating future services.

    • Ryan Ballard

      Exactly Darren. If there were something wrong with the relationship, thousands of NCAA athletes would be ineligible.

  • Jacob Hixson

    I think these companies do have a place in the world. There are several players who have the ability to secure some sort of academic or athletic scholarship to compete at the collegiate level without having the potential to play professionally. With that said, one of the aforementioned companies lost all credibility with me when they issued a press release for securing a ” scholarship ” to compete at the ACHA club level.

    • Ryan Ballard

      Jacob,

      I’ve always thought that if the player is good enough, someone will recognize that. But I think you’re right in that there are kids out there who are looking for D2 or D3 opportunities. Many of those D2 and D3 schools don’t have budgets that allow for scouting across North America, so these recruiting firms can help in those instances in which an advisor/agent would not.

      Pretty funny about that press release. ACHA hockey has come a long way and certainly has some good players, but not something a recruiting firm should be bragging about. Honestly, I’ve never talked to a hockey player who lists their goal as playing ACHA hockey, even though it can be a very good opportunity to continue competitive hockey.

  • Is the fact that these companies exist mainly because people such as yourself don’t want to take on these prospective players knowing fairly well that most of them will probably get only as far as a D-2 or D-3 schools, hence never actually making any money for you in the future? I would still see it is a learning opportunity for some people such as yourself working with players, but in the long run, if they are never going to make it into a competitive league where $$ is involved, aren’t these companies actually useful? Or could that student merely spend less money, hire friends to tape his games, and make press kits to schools as well?

  • wade

    I’ll comment and share some personal perspective. I have a fairly athletic family (minus yours truly), both of my brothers are/were talented enough to play at the collegiate level. Our family did use NCSA and it surely was more than something that just “gets you a scholarship” because no scholarship is guaranteed.

    Since academics are so important for actually having a chance at a scholarship – services like NCSA have regular conference calls to make sure the client is keeping up with their necessary studies, taking entrance exams, and also focusing on the right opportunity and right schools for their talent level.

    For roughly $2000 – it saves an immense amount of time and gives very important direction. What many do not understand is how clouded and difficult it is to get noticed and be matched with the right school. Watching as much HS basketball for instance, as I have, I have seen very talented and even intelligent student athletes never have the opportunity or platform to present their achievements.

    The true issue is that many, if not most student athletes, believe that they are much better than they are and typically let fate only reveal itself about the fact that they will play at any level but D1.

    Parents may also be as much to blame as the services themselves…for pushing the child to be better and better (or achieve) ..Also – the same argument can be made against Prep Schools…

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