Speaker to shed light on student athlete recruiting process at Park City High
Paul Putnam, a speaker with for-profit teaching and recruiting firm Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), is scheduled to give a presentation on the recruiting process Monday at Park City High School at 6:30 p.m.
The free presentation is not endorsed by the school, but Park City athletic director Jamie Sheetz said for those who are unfamiliar with the recruitment process, it is a good place to start.
Putnam got into recruiting after he and his son had bad experiences with the process.
“I had an offer to the University of Utah,” said Putnam, who graduated high school in 1981. “The only requirements were a 2.2 grade point average and a high school diploma, and I didn’t even meet that, because I flunked P.E. I was a good athlete, and I wasn’t dumb, but I didn’t want to go to class. I flunked P.E. my senior year, missing 17 times that semester, and I ended up graduating with a 1.9.”
He attended a junior college before Weber State offered him a track and field scholarship.
Twenty-five years later, his son was in a similar position as a high school freshman with some Cs and Ds.
“We had a discussion about my experience, and he started getting As his junior and senior year, so he has a 3.3 cumulative when he graduates,” Putnam said. “But the problem is, the NCAA moved the goal posts on us. Instead of needed a 2.2 and a high school diploma, these kids have to meet 16 core requirements – math, English, science, history – and whatever your core GPA is will determine the minimum you must meet on the SATs or ACTs.”
By the time Putnam found the SAT and ACT requirements, it was too late. Universities that were considering his son for scholarships saw the writing on the wall – that he was an academic non-qualifier for NCAA competition – and dropped him as an option.
While parents might know about the grade requirements, Putnam said athletes and their families have to start preparing early and think in broad terms about what it would mean to be a successful college athlete.
His presentation will show parents the importance of a digital presence and taking steps to contact college coaches instead of relying on high school coaches to make the first move.
“This recruiting process is all digital, and the parents don’t know this,” Putnam said. “They’re going to camps, combines, showcases and hope their kids are going to be discovered when in reality the coaches are discovering (athletes) online.”
With the exception of NCAA Division I schools, Putnam said colleges find their recruits by essentially building an online portfolio of them, then going to camps and showcases to verify their scouting, rather than going to showcases with an open mind in hopes of discovering an athlete.
“And parents are expecting coaches to do all the work for them,” he said. “Think about this: you’re a coach, and you’re also a teacher or you work as a professional somewhere, and you’re coaching the kids for two hours on the field on the track, and now they have to go home and what, write letters for all their seniors who need scholarships? Now take that, with their time, and think about who they are going to write to. Do they know the college coaches?”
Sheetz agreed that it’s not part of a coach’s duties to get student athletes onto college teams.
“We do help however we can,” Sheetz said. “We never tell a player ‘No, that’s your job.’ … But while we do help as much as possible, it’s not in the job description to say, ‘We have to place someone somewhere.’”
That said, Sheetz added that no service can make that connection alone either, and that it always takes hard work from athletes, parents and coaches to make meaningful contact with a collegiate program.
“Recruiting services can get them exposed to some (colleges) that match their profiles, but any recruiting service that says they’re going to get you placed; you want to be wary of,” he said.
Putnam said NCSA will give each player that attends the presentation a free profile that will let them narrow down college options to find the best fit, by letting them filter by state, division and affiliations (e.g. military and religious institutions).
Both Sheetz and Putnam said the goal should be to help find the best fit and education for the student athlete. That includes looking at smaller colleges around the country.
“It’s not about going to college to be a superstar – hope it happens; hope you make your money – but it’s very rare that that happens based on everyone that’s playing,” Putnam said. “So, when you look at it, you get a four year degree out of it, now you have a job to support your family for the next 40 years. Kind of like a four-for-forty. And I think that’s where the academics are important.”
The talk is set to be held at Park City High School at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and will last about an hour.
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