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Student-Athlete and Parent Survey Insights on Recruiting During Coronavirus

 

The coronavirus pandemic has caused immediate and lasting changes to the college recruiting process. The NCAA Division 1 has suspended in-person recruiting through July 31, while Division 2 coaches are observing a quiet period from June 1-30, which allows on-campus in-person recruiting.

In early May we conducted a survey of 3,350+ parents and student-athletes across various sports to gauge the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their college recruiting process.

These responses provide a picture of how both student-athletes and parents currently feel about the future of scholarships, camps and college sports, as well as parents’ willingness to invest in youth sports in the future. College coaches can use these insights to build a communication strategy for recruiting conversations during this uncertain time.  

View the infographic for a snapshot of our key findings or read on for a detailed breakdown of the student-athlete and parent insights.

 

85% of parents said their student-athlete remains hopeful that they will receive a scholarship

Despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on college athletics, including furloughed coaching staffs and some programs disbanded, parents of current and future high school graduates said their student-athlete still hopes to receive a scholarship.

Is your athlete still hoping to receive a scholarship?

  • 79% of parents of a 2020 grad said “yes”
  • 86% of parents of a 2021 grad said “yes”
  • 85% of parents of a 2022 grad said “yes”
  • 89% of parents of a 2023 grad said “yes”
  • 84% of parents of a 2024 grad said “yes”

When asked about the impact of COVID-19 on their scholarship budget, college coaches answered optimistically, with 98% of coaches saying there will be little to no loss in athletic scholarships. Coaches explained that their schools are committed to retaining student-athletes because scholarships incentivize students to attend a school and contribute to student retention rates. If scholarship budgets were cut significantly, coaches said their schools’ revenue would be negatively impacted.

While college coaches cite that their school is committed to retaining student-athletes and, therefore, retaining the majority of their scholarship money, a survey by the Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade found that has not been the case for all schools and athletes. The survey asked 1,300+ competitive athletes ages 15-29 how their sport has been impacted by COVID-19 and found that 20% or respondents’ scholarships have been delayed or canceled.

It is unclear how eligibility relief will impact scholarship availability

The NCAA Division 1 Council voted to grant an extra year of eligibility to spring sport athletes who lost their 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. We asked college coaches if they expect seniors to return next year and 60% responded that they are not confident in knowing what decision their seniors will make until late summer. Also, the impacts will likely vary from sport to sport. While we cannot be certain how many student-athletes will return for an additional year and how scholarship availability will be impacted, only 15% of respondents who coach a spring sport think that college seniors will return to compete for an additional year.

 

59% of student-athletes anticipate being able to attend camps this summer

As some states announce that baseball and softball can practice and compete again, parents and student-athletes are optimistic that summer camps will resume.

Do you anticipate being able to attend camps this summer?

  • Maybe: 30%
  • No: 5%
  • Yes: 59%
  • No reason: 6%

 

60% of parents plan to send their student-athlete to camps or showcases this summer

Do you plan on your student-athlete attending camps of showcases this summer?

  • Maybe: 25%
  • No: 11%
  • Yes: 60%
  • No reason: 4%

However, when asked a similar question, college coaches were pessimistic about 2020 summer camps, with 71% of coaches saying they do not think summer camps will happen. Ultimately, with the NCAA Division 1 Committee’s decision to extend the dead period through July 31, whether parents and athletes are willing to attend summer camps or not, camps are unlikely to resume before the fall.

It’s also important to consider the various state-by-state reopening plans because they will significantly impact when youth sports training and competitions can resume. To see how your state is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, find your state’s health department websites on the CDC website.

The parent’s perspective from a different point of view

While both parents and student-athletes told us they plan to attend summer camps this year, the Aspen Institute’s Project Play found in their research that parents are concerned about the health and wellbeing of their children as states begin to lift restrictions and youth sports resume. Among all respondents, 50% of parents fear kids will get sick by returning to sports, but their fears don’t stop there. Parents also expressed concern for their own health and safety, with 46% saying they are worried about becoming ill from attending youth sporting events.

 

51% of parents said their financial investment in their student-athletes’ travel or club team will not change

Even as the country’s unemployment rate climbs, reaching 14.7% in April  (the highest it has been since the Great Depression), parents still say they are willing to invest in travel or club teams for their student-athlete.

Will COVID-19 make you more or less likely to invest in travel or club teams for your athlete in the next year?

  • Less: 21%
  • More: 9%
  • The same: 51%
  • Other: 4%
  • Skipped question: 14%

 

Are youth sports recession-proof?

Looking back on historical events like 9/11 and the 2008 recession, we can predict how industries like youth sports will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. A 2015 study conducted by the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management at the University of Florida found that parents were willing to cut back on their own activities to provide opportunities for their children. As a matter of fact, a 2016 TD Ameritrade survey found that parents are willing to cut back on entertainment, vacations, investing in retirement and even delay their retirement to financially support their child’s athletic career. Why is this?

This may be a result of parents’ desire to secure their children’s futures. According to the Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA} CEO and founder, Dev Pathik, parents are motivated to invest in youth sports by the possibility of college scholarships and/or professional athletic careers for their child. When asked if they have college athletic scholarship dreams for any of their children, TD Ameritrade found that 67% of parents aspire for their student-athlete to receive an athletic scholarship. With college costs rising and the US under economic strain, it seems that many parents view youth sports as an opportunity to save money down the road.

 

The future of college sports

Parents may be willing to continue investing in their child’s athletic career/goals, but are colleges willing to do the same? Colleges and universities at all division levels have furloughed coaching staffs, asked coaches to take pay cuts and disbanded programs as a result of financial hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. At the NCAA Division 1 level, five conference commissioners sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert asking for flexibility in member requirements, including a request to lift rules that require schools to sponsor at least 16 varsity sports. Should the NCAA decide to lift this rule, student-athletes will likely see more college opportunities disappear.

As student-athletes watch how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting colleges, 30% of student-athletes are concerned that colleges will cut their sport.

Are you worried about colleges eliminating your sport?

  • Maybe: 14%
  • No: 44%
  • Yes: 30%
  • Skipped question: 11%

View a full list of disbanded programs and colleges that have made staffing changes and pay cuts.

 

Only 21% of student-athletes have heard from their club or high school coach regarding a recruiting plan during the COVID-19 pandemic

Club and high school coaches often serve as a valuable resource for student-athletes throughout the recruiting process, but during the coronavirus pandemic many student-athletes have been left to build a recruiting plan on their own.

Has your club or high school coach communicated to you about a recruiting plan in light of COVID-19?

  • Maybe: 4%
  • No: 59%
  • Yes: 21%
  • Skipped question: 16%

When asked if they would like to hear from their club or high school coach during this time, 67% of student-athletes said “yes”. If you’re a club or high school coach that is struggling to find ways to help your student-athletes during this team, NCSA Team Edition can help you build a plan to connect your student-athletes with college coaches. Learn more here.

 

Survey responses by grad year

With the class of 2021 at the peak of their college recruiting process and most impacted by canceled/postponed recruiting events, it’s no surprise that this grad year makes up the largest segment of survey respondents. Here’s how the survey responses of over 3,350 parents and student-athletes are segmented:

Student-athletes by grad year

  • 2020: 7%
  • 2021: 29%
  • 2022: 26%
  • 2023: 22%
  • 2024: 15%
  • Other: 1%

Parents of student-athletes by grad year

  • 2020: 7%
  • 2021: 35%
  • 2022: 25%
  • 2023: 17%
  • 2024: 14%
  • Other: 1%

 

Read more: National Letter of Intent announces signing period changes

Read more: SAT, ACT, AP testing updates

Read more: Campus visits and recruiting events go virtual

 

Infographic: Athletes and parents on COVID-19 impact on their college recruiting process

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