College recruitment comes with a cost



While the benefits of college recruitment may be great, atheletes sometimes find themselves with unexpected expenses.

Recruitment into a collegiate athletics program signifies the culmination of an athlete’s high school career, the ultimate goal that they dedicate their adolescent years to. It acts as the tangible proof that the maddening exertion, early mornings and unflagging perseverance were worthwhile in the end. However, a significant number of athletes face additional barriers when entering the recruitment process through no fault of their own.

Considerable fiscal expenditures can often impede an athlete’s ability to throw their name into the ring for recruitment. Families cannot afford the financial weight of the process and most collegiate athletic programs offer little to no monetary support. Even if an athlete’s family can afford to be involved in the recruitment process, it is still a significant gamble – one that may result in an expensive lesson learned in the liability of chasing your dreams.

In the athletic world, money can play a significant role in an athlete’s progress and success. Some athletes hire personal trainers to focus on an athlete’s specific weaknesses and are significantly more beneficial to the athlete’s success than a general training session with prices ranging from 70 to 100 dollars an hour, according to Boston Sports Clubs, a popular local gym. On top of that, athletes often hire personal trainers for individual skill development for their specific sport. The additional group training sessions and the cost of club teams that athletes need to reach that elite level add up to tens of thousands of dollars spent per year, money that is not accessible to a majority of athletes.

Senior Sari Frankl, who has committed to play Division I soccer at Fordham University in New York City, said the financial strain that clubs that specifically prepare athletes to perform at a higher level have on a player can be a hindrance to their success.

“The girls that play in Girls Academy (GA) and the club soccer system are usually financially stable, attending well-known private schools. Unless you are a known prodigy, you need to be a part of GA to be considered for recruitment, but girls on GA teams travel anywhere from Florida to California to New York or to Connecticut every weekend to the extent that travel times become equal to those of a full time job. The question arises whether you have the facilities to handle these commutes and for many athletes, gas money alone can be a strain, not to mention the thousands of dollars paid to even play on the team. It can be a make or break situation,” Frankl said.

Senior Gianna Pentland, who is committed to play Division III soccer at Union College, said that the financial burdens faced by athletes during the recruitment process are significant and unrealistic for some families.

“I drive to the South Shore twice a week for practice, which is alone a two hour road commitment. None of the best club teams practice locally, so if your family cannot always have a car available or enough gas in the tank, the commute alone could devastate progress,” Pentland said. “You are sacrificing a lot to achieve your dreams and for me it was worth it, but I see how not everybody can justify those sacrifices.”

Junior diver Jacqui St. Clair, who is still in the midst of her recruitment process, said that these financial problems are just as relevant in the diving world with attending many meets.

“Recruitment in diving is based on your individual meet records. You have to go to a ton of meets and financially that can be tough. Meets are always multiple days and usually in other parts of the country, so people who cannot afford to attend these meets don’t achieve the same record as everyone else,” St. Clair said.

University of Notre Dame freshman and tennis player Jayanth Devaiah, an alum of the high school, developed through club organizations and continued such affiliations in parallel to his involvement on the high school team. Devaiah, was ranked first in Massachusetts and second in New England in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) 18 and under rankings, said he credits these clubs with his growth as an athlete.

“High school tennis, especially in Massachusetts, isn’t sufficient to get to playing college tennis. I had to do a lot of work on my own,” Devaiah said. “I continued playing under the tournament system at the USTA and playing on clubs that had no affiliation with the high school teams.”

Tennis is unique in that, though it is a team sport, there is an individual nature to it as well. Devaiah said that the financial burdens that arrive with tournaments and other competitions are tackled by athletes themselves.

“Tennis is a tough sport to play in that you have to pay for the personal coaching and you have to pay for all your own expenses in terms of food and traveling all around the country during tournaments, whereas if you’re in a team sport, like basketball, soccer or hockey, the team covers most of that,” Devaiah said.

Although some expenses may be easy for athletes and their families to foresee, the investment required for transportation, lodging and other accommodations when traveling to various locations can be unexpected. These costs can be substantial, especially over a long period of time.

Some athletic programs offer formal invitations for “official visits,” which allow for athletes to visit the school but also demonstrate a strong interest on the coach’s behalf. These trips are fully financed by the school but are difficult to obtain as they signify that the athlete is a top recruit. Dartmouth University freshman and diver Alexa Kalish said that “unofficial visits” are much more commonly arranged, yet expensive.

“For unofficial visits, you have to pay for it yourself. If you’re driving there, you have to pay for gas, and if you’re flying, you have to pay for your ticket. Once you’re there, you have to pay for all your food and stay at a hotel,” Kalish said. “Some schools have official visits, but it’s hard to get those. That’s only if you’re their top choice, and they’re your top choice.”

The implementation of Title IX with respect to collegiate athletic programs works to ensure gender equality. However, according to statistics conducted by ASM scholarships, scholarships granted to male exclusive sports like football lead to a disproportionate number of scholarships per sport given to female athletes compared to male athletes since so many scholarships are absorbed by sports that are exclusively male, like football.

Devaiah said that a challenging factor of his personal recruitment process were the uncertainties that emerged due to the reduced opportunities for space and scholarships. He said that on average, in women’s tennis, there is usually a scholarship to be offered to every athlete. In contrast, there are generally only four and a half scholarships available per every men’s tennis team.

“While I was getting recruited, there were a lot of conflicts with Title IX going on. Basically, roster and scholarship spots for males across all sports, except football, were significantly decreasing,” Devaiah said. “This was all a part of an effort to balance out the amount of spots available on women’s rosters with men’s rosters and scholarships spots on women’s rosters and men’s rosters. Personally, I think there should be equal opportunities for scholarships in each sport.”

Another factor that drastically cuts down on possible collegiate athletic programs for consideration are whether schools offer scholarships to athletes at all. Kalish said that she believes this causes issues of economic inequities as financial support may be imperative for some athletes.

“A lot of the schools that have diving programs don’t always offer athletic scholarships to their athletes. Sometimes, you can get financial aid, but that might not necessarily be enough,” Kalish said. “That significantly narrows down the selection pool for some people as to where they can dive in college very early on.”

The conception of the Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) deals can be traced back to over 20 years ago when the debate over whether collegiate athletes should be paid grew to the national level. However, the Division I Board of Directors approved the policy for student-athlete compensation as of June 30, 2021. As the obtainment of athletic scholarships become more rare, there can be an increased desire on the behalf of student athletes to seek NIL contracts.

Boston College Student Athlete Advisory committee head Will Kornya said that this concept was introduced to the committee the spring of 2022 and was adopted shortly after.

“The way the guidelines for student-athlete compensation works is that when their name is used on the back of a jersey, image – which can be their actual photograph or video, or something signature to that athlete is expressed anywhere, not by them, but rather in a school bookstore or Starbucks type brand wants to use them in a commercial, then they are entitled to fair compensation,” Kornya said.

These contracts have generated vast enthusiasm since they offer assistance to athletes who may need the fiscal support and generally allow student-athletes to monetize their name in credit to their playing. Deviah said that NIL deals are a positive addition to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as it gives athletes a chance to be rewarded financially for their hard work.

“I think the development of NIL deals has been great for college athletes like myself. Collegiate athletes work hard and deserve to make money off their name,” Devaiah said. “I’ve definitely considered the possibility of an NIL deal.”

Kornya said that these developments to the NCAA are more than reasonable when weighed against all that an athlete devotes to their sport.

“I think there is a lot of good in NIL. As an athlete, you do commit a very large amount of your time to the athletic program, not to mention gamble your health, in addition to a significant financial load,” Kornya said. “For revenue-generating sports, schools bring in a lot of money. If they want to profit off of your image, after all your hard work, I think it is very fair that athletes are being compensated.”