Soccer Scholarships 101

College Recruiting
Scholarships!
How to Communicate with College Coaches…Do’s and Dont’s
Eligibility and Information Centers

What Does NCAA and NAIA mean?

These are the two main organizations that institutions are members of;
NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association
NAIA – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

What is the Difference Between NCAA and NAIA?

Not a whole lot really. NCAA institutions tend to have stricter rules on the age of an athlete, amateur status, recruitment and playing rules. The big money and TV exposure tend to be at NCAA Division 1 institutions. In addition, attendance at NCAA institutions tends to vary in size from the very large (over 50,000) to the small (under 5,000). Attendance at NAIA institutions tend to be exclusively smaller (under 5,000). The key is that both organizations offer both Athletic and Academic aid. If you are looking at ways to help pay for college, you may want to consider both entities as a part of your decision on where to attend.

What is the Difference Between NCAA Division 1, 2 and 3?

First of all……it is NOT the quality of the soccer programs or institution. There are many Division 1 soccer programs that are very good….and some that are not as competitive. There are many Division 2 and 3 soccer programs that would be highly successful against Division 1 opponents and many that would not. Like any league that you currently play in – there is a wide range. The institution selects which division to play in according to set criteria summarized below. The decision of which division to play in usually comes down to available funding, available conference to play in and academic philosophical track;

NCAA Division 1

  • Must offer at least 14 sports
  • Must offer a minimum amount of athletic aid (some exceptions)…….academic aid also available
  • Must have participating male and female athletes in each of the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons
  • Must play a minimum number of contests against Division 1 opponents
  • Okay to play a national schedule
  • Institutions tend to have large to medium size enrollment

NCAA Division 2

  • Must offer at least 10 sports
  • Do not need to offer a minimum amount of athletic aid……academic aid also available
  • Must have participating male and female athletes in each of the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons
  • Do not need to play a minimum number of contests against Division 2 opponents
  • More regional competition as opposed to national competition
  • Institutions tend to have medium to smaller size enrollment

NCAA Division 3

  • Must offer at least 10 sports
  • No athletic aid……academic aid still available
  • Must have participating male and female athletes in each of the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons
  • Philosophical emphasis on balance between education and athletics
  • More regional competition as opposed to national competition
  • Institutions tend to have medium to smaller size enrollment
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How Many Colleges and Universities Play Soccer?
Division 1 Men 204 Division 1 Women 322
Division 2 Men 192 Division 2 Women 244
Division 3 Men 404 Division 3 Women 427
NAIA Men 204 NAIA Women 201
Total 1,004 Total 1,194
What are the Soccer Scholarship Limits per Division?
Division 1 Men 9.9 Division 1 Women 14
Division 2 Men 9.0 Division 2 Women 9.9
Division 3 Men No Athletic Aid Division 3 Women No Athletic aid
NAIA Men 12 NAIA Women 12

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What Does a Full Ride Mean?

A ‘Full Ride’ (or 1.0 scholarship) means that the Athletic Scholarship Award will cover the maximum costs allows by NCAA or NAIA rules;

  • Tuition and Fees (In State or Out of State)
  • Room and Board
  • Books
Do all Colleges and Universities Offer the Maximum Soccer Athletic Scholarships Limits Listed Above?

No – the limits above indicate the MAXIMUM an institution can offer. Some institutions may be funded at a lower level and have fewer scholarships available.

Division 1 – Depends on the institution, but I would suggest that it is less common than more common. Partial athletic scholarships are definitely more prevalent. Do the math……men have 9.9 athletic scholarships and women have 14 athletic scholarships…….Most squads range from 22 – 30 players. There will be some walk on’s (no athletic aid), but most players on a squad are awarded some kind of athletic aid. Partial scholarships ranging from books only, room and board only, tuition only, to a straight cash award are more common.

Division 2 and NAIA – Even less common. Partial athletic aid awards are the vast majority.
Division 3 – No athletic aid awarded – only academic aid.

Is it possible to Receive Athletic and Academic Aid from an Institution?

For the most part……Yes…..in fact – college coaches really like this. It is a win-win for both parties. You get a bigger award and the institution is able to stretch out their available athletic aid a bit further. So yes – grades and test scores can really help! There are instances when the academic aid awarded is ‘countable’ against the teams athletic aid limit – but that is another discussion for another day!
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How to Communicate with College Coaches………Do’s and Don’ts

Want to play soccer in college? There are multiple possibilities to consider; NCAA Division 1, NCAA Division 2, NCAA Division 3, NAIA, Junior College and Community College. The following article will focus upon institutions that participate at NCAA or NAIA level.

Okay…..before we start – a little bit of revision homework from the following article;

Scholarships! The Elephant in the Room

  • What does NCAA and NAIA stand for?
  • What is the difference between NCAA and NAIA?
  • What is the difference between NCAA Division 1, 2 and 3?
  • Is it possible to receive academic and athletic aid from an institution?

Good!…..now let’s move on.

Common Contact and Recruiting Terminology

As you become engaged in the recruiting and decision making process, you will start to hear some specific terminology….the following list represent some of the more common terms to familiarize yourself with;

NCAA Division 1, 2, 3

Contact Evaluation Official Visit Prospective Student Athlete
Contact Period Evaluation Period Unofficial Visit Verbal Commitment
Dead Period Quiet Period National Letter of Intent (NLI)

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NAIA
By philosophy, NAIA institutions tend to be less restrictive with rules during the recruitment period.

When Should I Start Getting in Touch with College Coaches?

This really is a million dollar question as it tends to be different by gender and division. There are always exceptions to these timelines depending on the level of the college program (the higher a National ranking of a program – the earlier they tend to recruit) and the ability of the player (national team player, regional team player, state team player, etc.).  The following are approximate guidelines;

NCAA Division 1
Women – beginning sophomore year to middle of junior year
Men – middle of sophomore year to end junior year

NCAA Division 2
Women – beginning of sophomore year to beginning of junior year
Men – beginning of junior year to beginning of senior year

NCAA Division 3
Women – beginning of sophomore year to middle of junior year
Men – beginning of junior year to beginning of senior year

NAIA
Women – beginning of junior year to beginning of senior year
Men – beginning of junior year to beginning of senior year

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How Should I get in Touch with a College Coach?
  • First…….this should be the player – not the parent……
  • Initial contact can be as early as freshman year – but for most – it is sophomore or junior year.

General Rule of Thumb…

  1. You can phone, e-mail , write to a coach any time you want……they may not be able to respond (see below)
  2. You can visit a college campus to talk with a college coach any time you want (except during a dead period)
  3. E-mail is usually best. Telephone calls and in person contacts are a lot more personal – but more restrictive.

Be aware that there are Recruiting Rules that many institutions need to follow depending on the level they play at (NCAA Division 1, 2, 3) or organization (NCAA or NAIA). This may restrict the coach from responding to your e-mail, phone call or letter.

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NCAA Division 1
NCAA Guide for College Bound Student Athletes

  • Camp Brochures/Questionnaires – college coach may send freshman or sophomore year
  • Printed Recruiting Materials – college coach may send beginning September 1st of Junior year
  • E-mail /Letters – college coach may respond to e-mails beginning September 1st of Junior year
  • Telephone – college coach may phone you beginning July 1st before Senior year

NCAA Division 2
NCAA Guide for College Bound Student Athletes

  • Camp Brochures/Questionnaires – college coach may send at any time
  • Printed Recruiting Materials – college coach may send beginning June 15th before Junior year
  • E-mail /Letters – college coach may respond to e-mails beginning June 15th before Junior year
  • Telephone – college coach may phone beginning June 15th before Junior year

NCAA Division 3
NCAA Guide for College Bound Student Athletes

  • Camp Brochures/Questionnaires – college coach may send at any time
  • Printed Recruiting Materials – college coach may send at any time
  • E-mail /Letters – college coach may send at any time
  • Telephone – college coach may phone at any time

NAIA

  • Camp Brochures/Questionnaires – college coach may send at any time
  • Recruiting Materials – college coach may send at any time
  • E-mail /Letters – college coach may send at any time
  • Telephone – college coach may phone at any time
Player Resume – What Information Should be Included?
  1. Name, Address
  2. Graduation Year
  3. GPA
  4. Test scores (if applicable)
  5. Parent/Guardian names
  6. Why you want to attend this college/university……personalized (never generic  – Dear coach)
  7. Brief Academic highlight paragraph
  8. Club Team and number
  9. Club coach name and contact information
  10. Brief Club Athletic achievement paragraph
  11. High School Team and number
  12. High School coach name and contact information
  13. Brief High School achievement paragraph
  14. Upcoming event that see can see you play

Total should be no more than 1 – 2 pages…if you are very interested in the institution – stay in touch! You have to recruit the colleges and universities as much as they have to recruit you.

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What About Video Clips?

Ask the coach their preference……I would anticipate that most do not want any video and prefer to see you in person. However, that may not always be possible. Use of video clips is becoming more and more isolated as a recruiting source.

What is an Unofficial Visit?

NCAA Guide for College Bound Student Athletes

What is an Official Visit?

NCAA Guide for College Bound Student Athletes

Should I Speak to a College Coach at one of my Soccer Matches or Tournaments?

For the most part…….No – they can reply with a general ‘Hi’ and that is about it. If they engage in conversation, this will count as a ‘contact’ which may or may not be permissible. If they wish to meet off campus, they will arrange it. If they do, it can only be after the game or tournament is completed and once your coach has released you. This is one of the biggest errors and recruiting rules violations out there…..the coach can get in trouble for this!

NCAA Division 1, 2, 3
NCAA Guide for College Bound Student Athletes

NAIA
You may speak with the coach or the coach may speak with you after any game.

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Eligibility and Information Centers

NCAA – Want to Play College Sports?
NCAA Division I Initial Eligibility Toolkit
NCAA Division II Initial Eligibility Toolkit
NCAA Division III Information
NCAA Eligibility and Information Center
NAIA Eligibility and Information Center

Resources

NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete
NAIA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete
US Youth Soccer College Athlete Planning and Information Center
NCAA – Athletic Scholarships
NAIA – Athletic Scholarships
NCAA – Student Athlete Benefits
NCAA – National Letter of Intent (NLI)……applies to only NCAA Division I and Division II ins

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