Athletic recruitment 101

By Lee Shulman Bierer, College Admissions Strategies, Founder

Hey Hollywood, how about a new television show called “So You Think You Can Be A Professional Athlete?”  Unfortunately, the stats aren’t encouraging.

According to  there are a few million high school athletes, more than 500,000 NCAA student-athletes, and fewer than two percent of them will go pro in their sports. The probability of competing beyond high school is daunting. A chart on the site demonstrates just how challenging it is for high school athletes to become members of the NCAA and the percentage who then move onto professional sports.

In the example below the first number represents the number of high school athletes by sport, followed by the percentage who are able to play at the college level, then the percentage that are drafted to professional sports teams and finally a summary of the percentage who move from high school to professional sports:



High School Student-Athletes: 1,006,013

NCAA Student Athletes: 73,712

NCAA Student Athletes Drafted: 254

Percent High School to NCAA:7.3%

Percent NCAA to Professional: 1.6%



High School Student-Athletes: 540,769

NCAA Student Athletes: 18,816

NCAA Student Athletes Drafted: 52

Percent High School to NCAA: 3.5%

Percent NCAA to Professional: 1.2%



High School Student-Athletes: 399,067

NCAA Student Athletes: 16,509

NCAA Student Athletes Drafted: 36

Percent High School to NCAA: 4.1%

Percent NCAA to Professional: 0.8%



High School Student-Athletes: 482,740

NCAA Student Athletes: 36,011

NCAA Student Athletes Drafted: 791

Percent High School to NCAA: 7.5%

Percent NCAA to Professional: 9.9%


So, if you’re still interested in pursuing playing a sport in college here’s what you need to know. Your first order of business is to spend some time doing your homework on the following websites: – The official website of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Read the NCAA guide for prospective collegiate athletes. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, another governing body of college sports. – The NCAA Eligibility Center is the place where student athletes need to go to register and begin the recruitment process.  The site helps students and families determine academic eligibility and amateur athlete eligibility status. Prospective student-athletes must register with the “Eligibility Center” to be considered for scholarships and financial aid.


Here are some things you’ll need to think about as you consider entering the athletic recruitment process:

  • Think about the concept of “fit” – make sure the school is solid academic fit for you as well as sports/social fit. You want to make sure you will be able to graduate in four years with a solid major and a strong transcript.
  • Talk with your coach to help determine at what level you are able to play (DI,DII,DIII).
  • Be responsible in the process and don’t forget to return questionnaires, send film if requested, take standardized tests, send transcripts etc.
  • Visit as many schools as possible (unofficial). Spend some serious quality time with the coach(es) and other players and ask how they are treated, how well they’re doing in their classes and what their life is like.
  • Be honest throughout the process and follow the rules diligently. Be straight with the coaches recruiting you and look for those being honest with you.



Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;