College Soccer

Updated Tuesday March 17, 2015 by Tamer Ozkan.

Playing in college is the natural progression and a dream for many of our club players.

OBEN SC here to help those players to prepare for college soccer. Each year a college prep camp will be available for our club player if they needed. (Please contact DOC for more info.)  Here is some information to help you to understand the progress..

What College Soccer Opportunities Exist?

The Opportunities to play soccer in college can really be divided into two categories. First, when the financial support from playing soccer enables a player to go to college. Mainly at the D1 level, where financial support is allowed. Secondly, where soccer is used at the margins, to aid a student-athlete gain entry to a slightly better school than would otherwise have been the case.

D1 Soccer - The Facts

The maximum allowed scholarships per team are as follows:

  Men

  Women

  Division I 9.9 scholarships

  Division I 14 scholarships

  Division II 9 scholarships

  Division II 9 scholarships

  NAIA 12 scholarships

  NAIA 12 scholarships

  NJCAA 18 scholarships

 

Soccer is classified by the NSCAA as an "equivalency" sport, as opposed to a "head-count" sport. Briefly, in a "head count" sport, even $1 of aid counts as using a full scholarship out of the maximum allowable in that sport (14), so there is a significant incentive to offer players a full, not just partial, athletic scholarship. By contrast, in an "equivalency" scholarship sport, the program is free to divide the value of the 14 full scholarships into as many fractional scholarship pieces as they wish, so e.g. only 6 players on the team may be on "full" athletic scholarship, and 14 more may be on partial scholarships whose aggregate value is equivalent to 6 full scholarships (with the parts not necessarily equally divided among players). Despite rumors and incorrect reporting to the contrary, there is no such thing as a four-year scholarship. All N.C.A.A. athletic scholarships are annual awards, are not guaranteed year to year, and need to be renewed. This is stated clearly on the NCAA website.

In addition, any scholarship can be canceled for virtually any reason at any time. Therefore, earning and receiving scholarship is far from the end of the story, but the beginning. While to some extent the hard work has paid off, it has also just begun. There are mandatory early morning weight-training sessions, regular travel and meetings, as well as practices and games throughout the whole year, not just the fall season. Indeed, the contrast in required spring commitment is one of the major differences between D1 and D3 college soccer experiences, with D1 athletes often back from Christmas break earlier than regular students to attend practices, then playing an extensive (15+) game schedule plus tournaments throughout the spring.

There is also a direct and significant impact for the student-athlete upon the overall academic experience. Sporting commitments often limit the courses students can take, study classes are usually necessary to make up classes missed for travel commitments, and taking summer classes to regain credits lost throughout the year by student-athletes is the norm rather than the exception.

All this does not necessarily make the college experience worse, but it does make it different, and is worth considering in choosing what kind of experience a college-bound athlete wants to pursue.

D3 Soccer - The Facts

Division III Soccer is a very different product, mainly because: 

1- there is considerably less commitment required outside of the fall season, and

2- no scholarship money is given by D3 colleges.

In terms of the level of play, many extremely talented soccer players go to D3 schools because their focus is academics, or because they want a more "normal" college experience. Travel is generally more local, and the maximum amount of time that even the best programs can commit to athletics is strictly regulated by the NCAA. Therefore, there are many D3 schools who would be competitive with many D1 schools, although the best D1 schools are considerably better than the best D3 schools, and the level of D3 schools is extremely broad, all the way down to teams who might practice once per week, and have players who have never played before but are seeking looking for a social activity.

While decisions of financial aid are not made on the basis of athletic ability, that ability may be a contributing factor at the margins of college acceptance. In other words, if there are 10 people for one place, all with roughly similar grades and resumes, a word from the coach that a player will contribute significantly to the college through soccer can and often does make a difference. This is the case al the way up to top academic schools (who are technically Ivy League but are run much closer to D3 programs than D1) such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Brown and UPenn, although it is imperative to remember that soccer ability will not replace the necessary grades. The key phrase here is "at the margins", which is where soccer will help.

Where should I play - and am I good enough?

The decision of whether to aspire to D1 or D3 soccer - or not play at all - is clearly an individual one for every player, recognizing that the experience will be massively different. As identified previously, D3 soccer has a massive divergence of level, so if soccer is so important to you that it will be the basis of your choice, any kind of club player should be able to find somewhere to play.

D1, and the better level D3 schools are completely different, and are highly competitive. There are many youth soccer coaches will have experience working with players who have gone on to play in college, so there advice is worth something - although programs change and levels of play generally get better year to year. However, the best advice will come directly from coaches at the colleges you are considering. See the section on the Recruiting process for ways of finding out what they think.

Recruiting Process – The Rules

The rules below are taken from http://www.collegesportsscholarships.com/ncaa-recruiting-rules-contact-visits.htm

High school Freshman and Sophomore year. these rules also apply until September 1 of your Junior year.

Coaches are allowed to:

  • Send you athletic or sports camp brochures, NCAA Educational Information and Questionnaires. A coach can also accept phone calls from you as long as they are at your expense but remember that if you leave a message on an answering service the coach is NOT ALLOWED TO CALL YOU BACK.

Coaches are not allowed to:

  • To call you on the phone. A coach cannot send you any written recruiting information.

Unofficial Visits:

  • You can make unofficial visits to a college campus.
  • It is also permissible for you to receive a maximum of three complimentary tickets to a college sporting event.
  • You can talk with college coaches but this must be on campus.

Junior year from September 1

  • College coaches are allowed to send you information about their athletic program and about their school. this can include: media guides, schedule cards, personalized letters, photocopies of newspaper clippings and official university admissions and academic publications.
  • The college coach is now allowed to answer your emails and send emails to you as well.

Junior year from July 1

  • A college coach is only permitted to contact you in person off the college campus only on or after July 1st when you have completed your junior year of high school. If the coach meets with you or your parents and says anything to you or them then this is considered a contact. Anything more than a very basic hello is a contact
  • College coaches are permitted to make one telephone call each week to you or your parents. You can call the coach as often as you wish.

Senior Year

  • You can make up to five Official - expense paid visits to college campuses. the visit to the campus cannot be longer than forty eight hours in duration. you are not allowed to have an official visit until after your first day of classes of your senior year.
  • College coaches need to have an official ACT or SAT score and a copy of your official high school transcript before you can make a visit.
  • Coaches can make telephone calls and send written correspondence as per the rules for your junior year.

Recruiting at Tournaments

  • if your at a tournament and the coach does not talk to you don’t take it personally. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has specific recruiting rules that puts limits on communication at tournaments.
  • A college coach can sit down with a guardian or parent at a competition site. This is counted as one of the three in-person off-campus recruiting contacts a coach is permitted.
  • College coaches cannot have any personal contact with student-athletes during tournaments. As stated above a simple hello is fine but anything more is not allowed anything more is considered a contact.

Campus Visits

As a student-athlete, you must actively pursue the colleges that you’re interested in attending. Visiting these colleges should be on the top of your priority list. A campus visit allows you to get a feel for the campus and determine if you think the college will be a good fit for you.

If you’re considering attending a school that participates in the NCAA, you should become familiar with the NCAA Official visit rules.

Before you visit the college, you should read as much about the college and learn as much about the coaches in your sport as you can. During your visit, you’ll want to schedule an interview with the coaches. Here are some questions you may want to ask during your interview:

  • What is the graduation rate of all athletes?
  • Is there an academic counseling staff available to help with course selection and academic difficulties?
  • Are tutors available?
  • Where do athletes live, and do they live together?

 

Please note that these rules are likely to change, so be up to date by checking the NCAA website directly, which provides detailed information for both players and coaches. http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes