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Take Control of Your Recruiting Process:
How To Win A Baseball Scholarship
Without Paying an Arm and a Leg

by Brian Priebe
Assistant Coach
Saint Augustine High School
San Diego, CA

This article was originally published on the
November of 1997

If you are a high school baseball player who dreams of winning an athletic scholarship, you can hire a professional recruiting consultant to guide you through the recruiting process. Consultants charge $750-$2,000 for their services. No matter how intense your desire to play at a major university, that price tag may exceed your family's budget. As an alternative, you can perform most of the necessary steps yourself. Whichever path you choose, arm yourself first with some knowledge about the process and requirements of earning a baseball scholarship.

What Are The Prerequisites?

The three most important qualities you need to win an athletic scholarship are talent, good grades, and exposure. You should also be realistic, self-confident, and persistent.

Good Grades:

Before you can participate in NCAA Division-I or Division-II athletics, your academic eligibility must be certified by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse.

Follow this link to the NCAA Initial Eligibility web page NCAA Page

For a comprehensive summary of eligibility and recruiting restrictions, acquire a copy of the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete from your guidance counselor or the NCAA.

Your counselor can also assist you with the certification forms. You should register with the Clearinghouse by July 1st after your junior year.

If you need to bolster your SAT scores in order to meet eligibility requirements, you can visit the Test Prep Page.

When college coaches must choose between two recruits of equal talent to award scholarship money, coaches almost always select the recruit with the highest grades. The better your grades, the better your chances!


Market yourself aggressively to college coaches. Local colleges may scout your games without any prompting on your part. But, the out-of-town coaches will never see you compete unless they first know you exist.

You must make the initial contacts, and sometimes the second and third contacts. You may have to recruit some college coaches harder than they recruit you.

How? Send letters of introduction to college coaches before the start of your junior year. Tell them a little about yourself, and express an interest in their program. Enclose an academic/athletic resume´. Follow up with phone calls. Update them with new achievements, statistics, press clippings, and schedules as they become available. If your grades or test scores are above average, make that evident.

Enlist your high school coach to write a letter of recommendation. Enclose a copy when you send your resume´, or ask your coach send the letter directly to the schools you're most interested in.

Most importantly, ensure the college coaches know when and where they can see you play (games, tournaments, camps, talent showcases). Extend a clear invitation to come watch you compete.

College recruiting budgets are small. Coaches from out-of-town colleges are more likely to travel to an area or event where they can see a number of prospects at once. Take advantage of any "bonus" exposure you receive when recruiters come out to watch a teammate or opponent on the same field as you.

Here are five ways to increase your exposure beyond the high school season:

  • Play on high profile summer traveling / tournament teams. College and pro scouts often attend these tournaments. To get on a high profile summer team, you may have to recruit their head coaches the same as you would college coaches.
  • As early as the summer after your sophomore year, participate in "prospect" camps at the schools you're interested in. The cost could range from $200-$400 plus travel. As part of your initial contact with colleges, request information on any prospect camps the school might conduct.
  • Anytime after your junior year begins, garner an invitation to a talent showcase, Expect to pay $200-$500 plus travel for a few days of exhibiting your physical tools in front of college and pro scouts.
  • Tote your camcorder to the field. Inquire if the coaches who can't see you in person would like a performance video of you instead. Obtain some expert advice, produce a master tape, and mail out copies.
  • Enroll in one of the Internet recruiting services. Most of the twenty recruiting web sites primarily funnel student resumes into the hands of college coaches. High school athletes and their coaches enter academic/athletic resumes into a database. College coaches can search these databases to supplement their traditional recruiting process. Some of these sites charge a fee, others are free to students.

Which Schools To Contact?

Over 380 college baseball programs have home pages on the Web. They display an on-line version of their media guide consisting of one or more of the following:

  • a schedule of games
  • rosters
  • statistics
  • player profiles
  • action photos
  • coaching staff bio's
  • an all-time team record book
  • post-season honors received
  • profiles of alumni who have advanced to college or professional ranks
  • photos of the field and facilities
  • dates of upcoming camps, clinics, and tournaments
  • staff phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and points of contact
  • fan information regarding tickets, directions, parking, special events and promotions

To view the home page for a particular university team, just open Skilton's Baseball Links, scan the list of 200+ schools, and click on the team's hot link. Note -- We recommend the links here on the High School Baseball Web

Of the 400+ college teams represented on the Web, over half are D-II, D-III, NAIA, or junior college teams. Jim Dixon's Div III Baseball Pages provides direct links to 120 D-III baseball home pages.

To get an idea of which college baseball programs are the best, the spring editions of the NCAA News, Collegiate Baseball, and Baseball America often list the top-25 national rankings and conference standings at the various levels of college ball.

Many baseball team's home pages are linked to the college's main home page. You can perform "one-stop shopping" when inquiring about tuition, curriculum, and the various aspects of campus life that influence your choice of universities.

The overriding factor in selecting a college should be obtaining a quality education that will sustain you after your baseball career is over.

The Sports Source Official College Baseball Reference Guide ($25) is a good starting point. Its 800 pages contain the coaches' names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. for more than 1,550 of the nation's college baseball programs. Moreover, it includes detailed information about academic programs offered, tuition, and admissions requirements.

Who Should Do The Leg Work?

Mainly you, the student. Don't wait for scouts to knock down your door. Don't assume your high school coach will market you. Parents should furnish support and advice, but remain in the background until you visit a campus.

College coaches look for mature players who take initiative, possess the self-confidence to speak with them directly, and show the desire to "do whatever it takes".

When To Begin Sending Letters?

Since college coaches start seriously evaluating prep players in their junior year, it's best to contact coaches as soon after your sophomore year as possible. According to Jeff Spelman, Director of the Team One Showcase, 50% of all baseball scholarship dollars are awarded to players in the fall, before their senior season ever begins.

If your senior season draws to a close and you still haven't been picked up by a college, don't panic. Once the dust settles from the Major League draft in June of each year, college coaches fill roster spots vacated by underclassmen or incoming recruits who turn pro.

When Coaches Show Interest

Often, the first contact you'll receive from a college coach will be a letter requesting that you submit a player profile, including a referral from your high school coach. Complete and return these questionnaires promptly.

The NCAA restricts the number and timing of face-to-face contacts, phone calls, and letters that can be made by college coaches. You are responsible for knowing and abiding by the rules on recruiting. They are summarized in the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete. Avoid any contact that could endanger your eligibility.

Don't Burn Any Bridges

Pursue every school on your "top five" list as though it is the only school interested in you. Continue to respond cordially to all inquiries and accept invitations for campus visits until you have a signed contract in hand from the school of your choice. Though not a common practice, college coaches can retract verbal offers and promises right up until the time both the school and recruit commit in writing to a scholarship package.

Alternatives To Division-I Scholarships:

  • Compete at one of the better D-II or D-III schools. Some very good baseball is played at these levels.
  • Play at a quality junior college while you continue to "sell" yourself to the big schools, and transfer after two years.
  • Go north! Many talented prospects living in the northern half of the country choose to attend southern schools in warmer climates. This creates a bit of a talent vacuum. If you can survive the cold, snow, and indoor workouts, you may earn significantly more playing time at a northern college.
  • Walk-on at a D-I university. Research the coach's history of playing walk-ons and the potential for scholarship in your sophomore year of college.

Just In Case:

Even if you expect to win a scholarship, you would be wise to seek other forms of financial aid. Per Spelman, most recipients receive between 10%-50% of a "full-ride". NCAA schools can award the following number of scholarships each year:

Division I level = 11.7
Division II level = 9.0
Division III level = none

Coaches must divide a limited pot of money among all scholarship athletes on their roster. College Edge, University Web Page Directory, and Financial Aid Information page, provide pathways to a wide array of information on entering and paying for college.

What's more, always secure an "ace in the hole". Apply and gain admission to at least one college you would want to attend regardless of baseball.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (913) 339-1906

Sports Source Directory of College Baseball Programs (800) 862-3092

Please visit Coach Priebe's excellent baseball reference links web site:
Baseball Coach's Links Page

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