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The huddle

June 5, 2017

D3 Recruiting Tips

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Photo by Skidmore College

When you’re a potential prospect, the recruiting process can seem uncertain. And that can be frustrating. But an understanding of the steps that most colleges follow when they’re taking on athletes can take away some of the stress when you launch your college search.

Familiarity with the recruitment process can also give you a sigh of relief which can give you a better chance of playing for a good college. Here are the basic steps you can expect, plus some other considerations as you approach search.

Contrary to popular belief, DIII athletics provides the most significant number of opportunities and scholarships.  If you are looking to pursue an athletic career in DIII sports, here are some tips:

Understanding DIII Athletics:

Not all athletes understand DIII athletics and their culture. A smaller college/ university can give you the opportunity to have a well-rounded college experience. Let’s get right into understanding what happens at the DIII level. Traveling during the season isn’t nearly as intensive as the big DI programs. Unless you are going away for spring break or you are competing in the NCAA championship, you will most likely be traveling to games via bus. This means you won’t be missing as many classes as a DI athlete would. Offseason is where you will have the opportunity to study abroad, get a job, an internship and focus on your academics.

One major downside, though, to DIII compared to DI is the amount of exposure you will get. DIII sports get very little national tv time. So if you are looking to be on tv,  DIII is not for you. And in fact, this is even less, since the Division III basketball championships were taken off of television and relegated to the Internet.

If you are one of those athletes that played a variety of sports growing up, a DIII school should be on your radar. You will be able to play two sports more easily than a  DI or DII college.

A few other reasons why a DIII should be a strong option for athletes: coaches stay around longer, smaller class sizes, knowing your professors by their first names, more free time to get involved on campus. Your coaches genuinely care about your school work as much as your workouts. In fact, the NCAA itself cites academics as the primary focus of Division III athletes.  All in all, the balance of the environment at a DIII school sets up student-athletes for success on the field, in the classroom, and in the workforce.

Do Your Research:

During the recruiting process, it is easy to get swept off your feet with coaches contacting you. Make sure the colleges that you are looking at are the right fit for you athletically and academically. Researching the athletics at the school are paramount. Here are a few examples: Check the roster to see how many players are already in your position, watch live streaming games to see if you have a comparable playing style, see what the facilities are like, ask how many players are in your recruiting class, lastly, check the ranking and winning record over the past five years. A lot of top DIII programs are highly competitive and are also recruiting potential DI players.

Pro Tip: Visit as many colleges as possible, even if they are close to where you live so you can determine what you do and do not like about colleges. It will make it easier to narrow down your list from early on. It is a good idea to have a list of pros and cons of the college/coach/sport.

Be Proactive:

DIII college coaches have less money to work with, especially when it comes to recruiting. There are also limited rules for player/coach contact and visiting colleges to even the playing field with D1. Check the NCAA rules on when you can contact a coach; all sports have different dates.  That being said, being proactive and reaching out to coaches early on can only benefit your recruiting process. You want to build a relationship with a potential college coach. Emailing or filling out a recruiting questionnaire can be a good first step, but if you feel strongly about a school, call the coach and let them know. It shows initiative and lets him know that you are serious about adding value to their program. Do not give up until you hear a firm, ” I’m not interested.” Check your emails, and when a coach reaches back out to you, you need to respond in a timely manner.

Pro Tip: Do not let your parents do all the work for you, you need to form a relationship with the potential coach. The coach will want to speak with you and get a sense of who you are as a person, so take the initiative.


According to the NCAA, DIII is the largest division, and 82% of DIII athletes receive a scholarship averaging around $17,000, but none are athletic. To put things into perspective, 55% of DI athletes receive scholarships. How is this possible? DIII colleges provide a plethora of grants, need-based and merit-based scholarships that are open to any athlete. The NCAA research states that there are 442 DIII Schools across 34 different states. The academic and admissions requirements are different from DI and DII schools.

Pro Tip: Be sure to communicate with the coach and admissions and explain what you are looking for as far as a scholarship is concerned this way they can plan accordingly.

Personal perspective:

Navigating the DIII recruiting process is not glamorized as DI, but it can be just as exciting. You have the chance to dive into each program and decide which school, social setting and athletic program is best for you. When I was going through the recruiting process, I took 3 DIII recruiting trips to Middlebury College, Skidmore College, and Brandeis University and other colleges. Ultimately, I decided to attend Skidmore, but throughout my visits, I was able to bond with the team, meet the coach, sit in on classes and get a good indication of what the culture was like for a college athlete.

One of the best components of being recruited to a DIII college was that the classes were very small and intimate. I also noticed that the student engagement was very high in the classroom. To this day I still visit Skidmore and I make it a point to chat with my former professors, but most important the professors take an interest in my business. I graduated with a business degree from Skidmore, and the professors are still willing to give me advice, which you might not get at the DII and DIII level. I can not thank the business professors enough. I also had an amazing soccer coach, Lacey Largeteau, who wanted all of us to succeed on and off the field. She had a great balance of teaching us that if we worked hard we could have fun while doing so. Lastly, It is easy to get a full experience at a DIII school in just one day, which may not be possible at a big university.

Let’s face it; Division III athletics provides a well-rounded collegiate experience. You will have a balance of competitive sports, rigorous academics, ad the opportunity to pursue extra-curricular activities. What’s better than that?  


Updated November 12, 2018