Student athletes at the high school level are in a curious position. If they are outstanding performers, they can bring a lot of value to the college that they attend, and college sports are a huge business. At the same time, they are asking a lot – in the best-case scenario a full scholarship, the value of which can exceed $200,000.
Colleges are free to recruit and offer scholarships to anyone they choose. If you’re the parent of a student athlete, you have precious little control over who recruits your child. Nor do you have any control over what any given school deems to be important beyond sheer athletic ability. Often it comes down to character. Some programs choose to fiercely guard the reputation of their institution and do not recruit students who may be a bad actor. Some put teamwork high on the list, and will not recruit renegades or gunslingers. Others have strong feelings about bringing on good people, and stray from any recruits who may appear to have racist or homophobic leanings or who engage in cyberbullying.
How do college recruiters determine character? In addition to interviewing players, coaches and parents, increasingly they are turning to social media to determine who the “real” person is inside the player.
A new survey out this month by Cornerstone Reputation has perhaps the most comprehensive look into the minds of college sports recruiters on the topic of how social media plays into the recruiting process. The highlights:
- 99% of respondents said that players’ character is either important or very important in the evaluation process
- 83% of college sports recruiters have checked out recruits online in the last recruiting season
- 80% of recruiters have found something online that reflected negatively on a player
- 17% have rescinded a scholarship offer over something they saw online
What the survey didn’t ask was how often recruiters simply stop looking at an athlete because of something negative or questionable that they saw online. From the coaches we’ve talked to, this happens often – bad risk; move on. And by the way, they rarely if ever tell the recruit why they’ve moved on. There is zero feedback.
Which social media sites are they checking?
- 88% of recruiters check Facebook
- 82% check Twitter
- 54% check Instagram
A related word to all the high school athletes out there – if you use a pseudonym for your Twitter or Instagram account and think that makes your account anonymous and/or “private”, you may be jeopardy. If they do find your account, via your teammates’ accounts or because you slip up, they won’t give you a free pass. It may make it look worse that you are trying to hide your actions.
College hopefuls need to be very careful to never post anything online that may be viewed negatively, even if you’re doing it as a joke. Of course that’s the bottom line, but let’s not stop there. The survey also found that 86% of recruiters have seen something online that make them like a recruit more. Your social media accounts can be not only a place to showcase your athletic accomplishments, but also a forum to show what a fine young person you are. You can do it.