Prospecting for Players
Athletic recruiting at Ithaca College begins early in a high school athlete’s career. by Sherrie Negrea
Jeff Bostic’s interest in applying to Ithaca College to study radio and television was jump-started when IC’s football coach traveled to Geneva, New York, to watch the varsity team captain play during his senior year in high school. A few months later, when basketball season started, the College sent its assistant basketball coach to meet Bostic, the power forward-center on his team.
With a combined SAT score of 1220 on the math and verbal tests, Bostic was then invited on two recruiting trips to campus, one for football and one for basketball. In the end, he chose Ithaca over five other colleges in upstate New York (St. John Fisher, Roberts Wesleyan, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and SUNY Brockport and Fredonia), several of which were also recruiting him for athletics. “When I came to visit, Ithaca had everything I wanted,” says Bostic, now a junior who plays on both the football and basketball teams. “I had narrowed my decision between Ithaca and Hobart. Ithaca was more impressive academically. I just knew it was the place I wanted to learn.”
Athletic recruiting is a major focus for Ithaca’s 27 full-time coaches. The process can begin as early as a prospect’s freshman year in high school, when coaches sometimes send letters to athletes they are following. According to Division III rules, the coaches may not visit students until after their junior year.
“At least 80 percent of the success of a team is through recruiting,” says Ken Kutler, IC’s director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports. “If you recruit talented student-athletes and you have a good team, you’ll be successful.”
The coaches seek athletes who have a combined SAT math and verbal score of at least 1100, are in the top third of their class, and have no Ds on their high school transcript, Kutler says. “We want to invest our recruiting time into prospects who are going to make it here,” he explains. The primary recruiting region for IC’s coaches is New York State, although the College does attract athletes from throughout the Northeast. One way coaches identify top prospects is by accessing the names of high school students who have earned recognition as an all-state or all-American athlete.
Chelsey Feldman ’09, a health promotion and physical education major from Hewlett, New York, says she was not considering Ithaca College until two seniors from the IC women’s soccer team came to watch her play in her senior year of high school. The IC students then sent Feldman, an all-county soccer player, a letter, inviting her to visit campus, meet IC’s soccer coach, and stay overnight.
“Ithaca was a good size and really nice,” recalls Feldman, who now plays on both the intercollegiate women’s soccer and softball teams. “I felt really relaxed by everything.”
Besides the traditional recruiting path, IC coaches can also identify athletic prospects online, searching athletic websites and profiles that students post on sites such as Myspace.com. But Kutler says the campus visit still remains a critical part of the recruiting process. “In the end, it’s always a highly personal thing,” he says. “No one is going to choose you, nor are you going to choose a college, from an online experience or a letter. It’s going to be the personal experience, with at least a campus visit.”