At the recent ABCA convention, it was suggested to me by various coaches that
I should address, in this column, some college baseball coaches' concerns that
seem to be out there. This column, thus, will be directed towards pointing out
awareness of some of these concerns. I am not sure any conclusions or answers
will necessarily be the outcome. At least they will be out there for possible
suggestions or resolutions in the future.
Concern No. 1
At the meeting of Division I coaches in January, the question was asked whether
anyone was using the recruiting profile that is mailed to baseball coaches. It
was pointed out that there is an ever-increasing amount of mailings of these
recruiting profiles! The question as raised was "simply requesting feedback from
Division I coaches on whether anyone used or is receptive to
the need of the many profile recruiting groups emerging throughout our country."
Only one coach in that meeting responded that he "occasionally" makes use of these
At the convention's closing meeting of the ABCA Board of Directors, President
Gary Pullins reported to the Board of Directors on the issues raised and discussed
in each Division meeting.
This question was then directed to the active coaches on the board. Once again
only one coach on that board indicated "once in a while" use of these recruiting
As one member of the board, Mark Johnson from Texas A&M pointed out: "Because
each individual student/athlete is charged for this service, they should know
that this means for exposure is
not the answer.
The best source of written exposure would be from the high
school or summer league coach, a personal letter from the student/athlete, and
names of scouts that have
seen the student/athlete play.
Obviously, exposure is greatly enhanced for the
student/athlete to attend a baseball camp at the campus of the school he has interest in attending."
Johnson reports to me that he receives, on average, 20 profiles a week from an
ever-increasing number of such services nationally. I am sure that's consistent
with what I was accustomed to
in my fairly recent years as a Division I coach at the University of Maine.
On my return home, I contacted Jay Kemble, who was my recruiting coordinator for
seven years, for an up-to-date input from his perspective. Kemble reports that
in recent years from 15 to 20
recruiting services nationwide have been sending to the University of Maine profiles
on student/athletes who are sophomores, juniors or seniors in high school as well
as students in junior
college. Like Johnson at Texas A&M, these have been coming at the rate of at least
20 per week - sometimes more.
John Kolasinski, Husson College coach, an NAIA institution, tells me he received
profiles nationwide from a number of recruiting services as the rate of at least
30 per month. He searches
through these profiles for student/athletes that come from New England and who
indicate some interest in the academic areas that fit the Husson curriculum.
So where are we in all this? First, the many recruiting services are out to make
money. Student/athletes are spending money for what they consider greater exposure
and, most of all, a chance
to get a baseball scholarship.
Baseball coaches, however, now are so overwhelmed
with the number of profiles that it's becoming a problem.
Kemble points out several things. First, it's hard to determine who is doing the
evaluating of each student/athlete, thus, concerns about the credibility of the
ratings or evaluations.
student/athlete is possibly being mislead into what these services will do for t
hem. Third, baseball scholarships actually are very limited because of the equivalence
involved and are in most
cases not a likely outcome.
Finally, as Kemble points out "the money spent for such
a service may not be with what one gets for it."
As was in my personal use of these profiles as a coach, my guess is most coaches
most likely limit their use of these profiles to searching for regional or local
names to follow up on with a
letter or telephone call.
My experience surely tells me that coaches have a good
handle on (1) whom they plan to recruit, (2) to whom to recommend for some form of
scholarship award and/or
who they will try to sign to a letter of intent.
I took a walk with new Princeton Coach Scott Bradley in San Diego, and he already,
as a first year coach, had a great knowledge of who the quality players were in the
state of Maine, who
could academically qualify for Princeton, and who was worth recruiting. Good programs
know who the good players are.
Certainly too many parents are spending money on something that has become (1)
overwhelming for coaches to handle; (2) somewhat misleading for what such services
can accomplish; (3)
and most of all, little hope for a scholarship outcome. There may be better ways
to accomplish the goal. A letter or call of interest always certainly meant the most
to me. Next, a letter or
call from the baseball coach or scout certainly always has been a huge help. That
gets the priority follow-up from the coach that one is looking for.
Concern No. 2
This was raised by Andy Baylock, the Hall of Fame University of Connecticut
baseball coach, at the same Division I meeting in San Diego. This concern dealt
with the increasing number of
showcases being held.
Baylock's particular worry dealt with the great number of
showcases being held on fall weekends.
He pointed to two problems:
First, that high school athletes participating in
fall sports are leaving their teams during that fall sport's season to go to
showcases (the problem it creates for high
school fall sports coaches - the test of loyalty, etc., involved).
risk of injury involved, (particularly an arm injury to the player who is playing
football, for example, and has had minimal
baseball readiness for that showcase the players goes to).
There is no question - showcases can be very valuable. As Kemble points out, "Some
showcases are excellent at deciphering quality players and when the organizing
outfit has done their
homework on each player. When well done and the number of repetitions and quality
experiences are available to each participant a player can be fairly judged."
One cannot argue that. There is nothing better than judging a hitter against decent
pitching and/or judging a pitcher against reasonably good hitting.
while the showcase idea
is good, the urge to make a killing financially is blowing this good idea out of
proportion. There are so many showcases now and most of them with too many
participants that many participants are
not getting the quality experience they are paying money to get.
The number of showcases further has created a tough problem. Too many parents and
student/athletes are no longer loyal to the baseball program they should be loyal to.
programs are certainly encountering a lot of this. As one coach told me, "The big
problem now is that most showcases have so many players there that they do not
accomplish what I am trying to
see in players - enough quality experiences against quality competition." This
coach further points out "student/athletes are being misled because they actually
do not get the number of
repetitions and experiences to be fairly judged. It may not always be worth the
In summary and substance maybe there needs to be greater planning for quality
results rather than bulk money driven outcomes in these recruiting exposure ventures.
They would then serve
customers well for the money spent.