Athletic Quest Advises: Don't Play the "Fame Game" When Selecting a College

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Too many athletes look for the most well-known or "famous" college as they decide where to attend. The "Fame Game" is not the most successful route to take, when looking for opportunities and education. It is better to consider the best fit for the athlete rather than the fame of the school.

“Our team travels around the country talking to thousands of student athletes about their college recruiting future, including sport scholarships,” reports Coach John Scott, president and CEO of Athletic Quest, whose business team is comprised of current and former college coaches — the only team of its kind in the college recruiting industry. “Equally important is that we talk to parents about not playing the dangerous ‘Fame Game’ — which means, selecting only high-profile colleges like North Carolina or USC to apply to. Oftentimes parents are more focused on where their sons or daughters go to college than the students and the opportunities and education they may experience.”

Of the 800,000 student athletes playing college sports, there are less than 10% that attend NCAA Division I schools, and less than 2% of these players have full athletic scholarships. “The Fame Game is very dangerous,” states Coach Scott. “Let’s say the student athlete and his parents have come to us about football recruiting and they’ve decided that the only acceptable schools are Notre Dame and Stanford. But what if Notre Dame doesn’t need the student athlete’s position for the year he’s applying? What if Stanford already has someone all-league for that position who’s a freshman or sophomore? These are just some of the college recruiting criteria we use to find the best college or university for the student athlete. Of course scholarships play a major role in what we do, and I’m proud to report our program averages over $84,000 for our student athletes for a four year college education.” states Coach John Scott.
Student athletes and parents need to review colleges they may not have even heard of. “Trust me,” says Coach Scott, “there are hundreds of wonderful colleges out there. And it’s more than football recruiting and basketball recruiting. For instance, Berry College in Georgia has the largest college campus in the country — 30,000 acres — and is has one of the best Olympic swimming facilities in the entire nation. But I’ll bet you’ve never heard of it. There are lots of colleges with tremendous academic programs, enticing environments and great athletic programs. So don’t get hung up on the notoriety of the college name; don’t play the Fame Game.”

By understanding how student athletes are chosen, a game plan can be created that offers the most opportunities.

Where to begin?

Step #1: Explore the campus. Is it attractive, inviting and well maintained?

Step #2: Review the college’s academic majors to determine whether they fit your student athlete’s needs.

Step #3: Determine whether your student athlete qualifies academically for that particular college. Does your student measure up to their minimum ACT and SAT requirements?

Step #4: Does the college have the right sport for your student athlete?

Step #5: Is the college looking for your student athlete’s player position? Do they already have someone who’s been all-league? What year are they in?

“If they have four sophomore players in your position and one of them is all-league,” says Coach Scott, “that might not be the place for you”.

“Let me tell you about a young man, a swimmer, from Wisconsin who wanted to go to University of Minnesota. He was an NCAA Division I blue chip swimmer, determined by his extraordinary times. We sat down in November of his senior year and asked him what his dream school was. He replied with Minnesota; he had been to their athletic camps for four years and he loved their campus and coaches. Remember, this is November and he hadn’t heard anything from Minnesota. They should have been calling him once a week since September. I asked him if he had looked at their roster to see if they even needed a swimmer for his event? ‘No, sir, I haven’t looked’ was his reply. After reviewing the roster, we discovered there were four freshmen in his event with his swim times or better. Do you think he was going to get recruited by Minnesota? The Fame Game just went out the window.”

Most people are enamored with Division I schools because from August to April, there’s 20-40 games on television about Division I football and basketball. That’s why you know about those big name schools — it’s a multi-billion dollar business. But swimming, volleyball, soccer, baseball, etc. don’t get any of the headlines or television time. However, there are colleges that people have never heard of that are attractive for many reasons. Willamette University in Salem, Oregon with a Division III program, for example, is one of the most beautiful colleges around.
“I know that dads would like to walk into work with a Boston college logo on their shirt and brag about their student athlete getting accepted there,” continues Coach Scott. “Sometimes parents are more concerned about the college’s prestigious image rather than their kid’s educational opportunities. You have to rid yourself of that pride and emotion. And you need to realize that Division I schools might not have better academics. NCAA Division III colleges — across the board — have better academics statistically than Division I schools. Division III schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, so their emphasis is on academics.”

And Division III schools may offer more opportunities to actually play. “I had a conversation with a parent who bragged that his son played for Utah State. I asked if he dressed for the game or did he just play in practice. His answer was that his son didn’t dress for the game but he played. My response was that, no, he never really played because he never got on the field. He was a practice dummy. Is that what you want as a parent, or do you want your son or daughter to actually play in a college sport?”

These — and other realities — are hard for people to accept. “If you want to go to Michigan and you’re from Michigan,” says Coach Scott, “and there is another student athlete from California who rates the same academic and athletic achievements as you, who do you think the coach is going to choose? Michigan. The Michigan student isn’t going to get homesick and he isn’t going to worry about the snow.”

Another selection criteria is the size of the student population. Does a population of 30,000 to 50,000 sound attractive? Or is 2,000 to 4,000 more appealing? Eighty-five percent (85%) of four-year colleges and universities have a student body population of 3,800 full time students or less, which may equate to only 15 to 20 students in a classroom.

“My advice is to weigh the priorities before you begin playing the Fame Game,” concludes Coach Scott. “There is a world of good opportunities out there, and you get one chance to play college sports, be smart.”

Athletic Quest can be contacted by visiting or by calling 888.803.5157. Call Athletic Quest for a free evaluation ($50.00 value) or to visit with a college coach recruiter.

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