Pupil athletes worry the coronavirus might jeopardize their scholarships

CNBC’s “College Voices 2020” is a series of CNBC Fall Interns from universities across the country about growing up, college education, and getting started in these extraordinary times. Colette Ngo is a senior at Chapman University who studied broadcast journalism and business administration. The series is edited by Cindy Perman.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the sports season for athletes across the country. Games, tournaments and training camps have been canceled. This has made many student athletes concerned about their athletic scholarships. How Can College Recruiters See What They Have To Offer?

In a recent TD Ameritrade survey, 47% of student athletes said they now believe that canceling the sport during the pandemic could jeopardize their college scholarship.

“That was my college watch moment and it was canceled,” said Devin Schoenberger, a soccer player at Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California. “We don’t know what other options we will have and which ones.” Many of us are not yet committed. “

More than 180,000 students each year rely on athletic scholarships to fund their education. However, the NCAA has introduced a recruitment deadline of April 2021. This means that college coaches cannot have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not see student-athletes competing or attending their high schools.

In addition, the NCAA extended one year of eligibility for current college athletes to practice their sport. Dan Doyle, recruiting coach manager for Next College Student Athlete, stated that college coaches make a tough decision to move forward. College coaches award scholarships based on the expectation that they will lose their seniors. When college seniors come back, competition for a spot intensifies.

“We already have a full list of men’s basketball with 13 scholarships at the Division 1 level. We could essentially keep all 13 of these kids and not hire a newbie this year,” said Doyle.

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Due to Covid-19, states like California, New Mexico and North Carolina are playing on a changed schedule. While other states like Utah, Kansas and Alabama play with no changes to their schedule. Some student athletes say that due to increased competition, they feel the need to keep improving their skills. So you cross state borders to assert yourself.

“We just got back from camp in Utah,” said Noah Fifita, a quarterback for the Servite High School soccer team in Anaheim, California. “I think that’s one of the main differences this time, just to get noticed.” and bring more attention to the film. We have to make more sacrifices than in previous years. “

Servite High School quarterback Noah throws a pass against Villa Park High School in Villa Park, CA.

Photo: Matt Brown

The unexpected loss from the pandemic has also resulted in significant budget cuts for the athletics departments of universities across the country. According to a survey by Next College Student Athlete, 30% of student athletes are concerned that colleges will restrict their sports. And that worry is a reality for dozens of schools that have already stopped sports programs.

Richard Southall, director of the College Sports Research Institute and professor of sports and entertainment management at the University of South Carolina, said the university’s athletics will have to pay long and careful attention to its budgets this coming year.

“Individual sports departments will have to grapple with the question of why we have so many sports. Why should a sport be a university sport instead of a club sport?” Southall said. “Colleges and universities have to make decisions about travel budgets, coaching salaries and equipment, and all that capital investment in new buildings, and so on.”

The college sports programs, which are forced to make budget cuts, are likely to restrict sports with fewer players on the team, such as rowing, tennis and golf, Doyle said. Universities do not receive the same tuition fees or enrollment benefits from these sports as they do from high-staff sports such as soccer, basketball, and baseball.

It is unclear when the athletic scholarships will fully recover. Even so, student athletes are hopeful and have found new ways to get noticed. Some ways high school athletes gain notoriety are by setting up Zoom meetings with college recruiters, attending livestream camps, and uploading skills videos online.

“I’m just trying to get as much better as I can so I shock a lot of people when I’m back on the track and on the field,” said Servite High School track and soccer player Max Thomas.

Noah Fifita stretches before an All-Star soccer game in Bullhead, AZ.

Photo: Les Fifita

The coaches have also advised athletes to consider other options for college – such as focusing on academics or examining junior college programs so they can move on to the next level after 1 to 2 years.

“The biggest thing is to invest in yourself this time,” said Doyle. “Stay disciplined, keep training. Keep track of your game. Build your confidence so that you are in a place to inspire these coaches when things go back to normal.”

Pete Najarian, a former NFL linebacker turned options trader and CNBC employee who appears frequently on CNBC’s Fast Money Halftime Report, gave his advice to student athletes. “Be ready for the moment. Because you may not get another moment like this. When you can perform at a high level, because you have prepared yourself. You did everything you had to do to be ready for this moment.” said Najarian.

College sports scholarships and recruiting as we know them may never be the same in a post-pandemic world. But if we’ve learned one thing this year, anything can happen. You need to be willing to adapt if this is the case.

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