As we move forward in the recruiting process this week is a huge reality check and solid check point for student-athletes going through this process. Seniors are able to receive phone calls, the process really amps up for juniors while sophomores and freshman begin being the target of NCAA D1 programs nationwide. More than 70% of all players offered a D1 baseball scholarship early were identified in their freshman or sophomore years.
My main message today is Social Media, however! Each November, many of the top high-school baseball prospects across the country announce formally by signing a Letter of Intent to where they plan to play college ball while thousands of coaches, alum, and boosters look on in anticipation that their favorite recruits will don a hat bearing their school’s logo.
There is no question that college recruiting has become a big business. A business in which hundreds of thousands (and potentially millions) of dollars are spent annually to attract the highest-rated recruits to universities nationwide. The challenge for baseball is that money is not spent there – it is spent on football and basketball so the things that we perceive to be happening really don’t in baseball. College baseball coaches have to work extra hard to find the right guys for their program, they still have the thousands of names to go through as well as the hundreds of videos to review with less staff, resources and money.
In the big revenue sports (football and basketball), “teams” are assembled with coaches, recruiting specialists, and data analysts to gain insight into the factors that attract recruits to the colleges and programs that they ultimately choose. Whether these prospects are attracted to the academic reputation of the school or the playing and training facilities, college athletic departments are constantly looking for competitive advantages that will propel their programs into national prominence.
In baseball facilities are important but coaches use the old fashioned network of guys they have built a relationship with. Communicating with guys they trust on players they know. Fallon Sports guys usually don’t transfer they usually find the right school the first time around. That is because of the relationship I’ve built with college coaches nationwide. They know I will not over promote any player just because it would make Fallon Sports look good because it’s more important that they player can actually play there, handle the academics, the distance from home, the opportunity to get better as well as the personality of the coaching staffs. There is so much to it on the baseball side and no money to do it with so a strong relationship is critical.
Did you know more than 98% of all universities have a Facebook page, while more than 84% are active on Twitter. With more than 72% of incoming high school seniors reporting that they researched their prospective colleges on a social media site, athletic departments are quickly realizing the impact that social media can have in the recruiting process.
Social media has forever transformed how recruiting works. With the proliferation of social media, the recruiting process starts much earlier, and much quicker. For coaches, it's yet another channel for contacting, recruiting, and gathering information about players.
If done in the right way, social media can help provide those 1-to-1 connections between coaches, staff, and prospects that will let them know just how much the school values their recruits. But if handled incorrectly, the universities can face serious penalties and sanctions from the NCAA, even if the communication comes from someone outside the university athletic department (i.e. a booster or alum).
Whether you realize it or not, the idea of being a regular teenager on social media disappears the second you complete an online questionnaire for a college. Once a school gains interest in a player, coaches and recruiting coordinators now have the ability to monitor EVERY SINGLE WORD that the player shares on social media, to not only find a competitive advantage for the recruiting process, but even as part of the vetting process. By doing a deep-dive into the recruit’s social conversations, athletic departments will have better insight into what the recruit is looking for in a program.
It’s no secret that many employers are now utilizing social media to screen candidates before providing a job offer. Some schools have employed this same tactic as a sort of extra level of interviewing. Social provides another glimpse into the recruit’s character that can either help or hurt a prospect’s chances of attending their dream school.
In fact, numerous D-1 coaches have gone on the record saying that their recruitment programs take into account how a prospect conducts themselves on social media, and have even passed on prospects with questionable content. Unfortunately, some student athletes forget just how public a forum it is. Every post is instantly public record, and since student athletes are easily the most visible representatives of their respective universities, it becomes that much more important for coaches and athletic departments to carefully vet recruits (and monitor the social interactions of their current student athletes.)