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The NCAA Recruiting Landscape

Welcome to Part 1 of our series on recruiting. Today we’re going to focus on the recruiting landscape – the difference between divisions, the scholarships and opportunities offered by schools at different levels, and what that means for athletes looking to get recruited.

There are 351 Division 1 schools, 308 Division 2 Schools and 443 Division 3 schools in the United States. Here are the details of the breakdown:

The levels:

Division 1 women’s basketball programs get 15 FULL SCHOLARSHIPS.

Division 1 men’s basketball programs get 13 FULL SCHOLARSHIPS.

**No partial scholarships – all or nothing

Coaching Staff: Head Coach, 3 assistants and a director of operations

Division 2 men AND women’s basketball programs get 10 FULL SCHOLARSHIPS.

**Coaches can divide scholarships and offer partials to multiple athletes, but the total ends up being the equivalent of 10 full scholarships, however the staff chooses to allot them**

Coaching Staff: Head Coach and 1 to 3 assistants (typically)

Division 3 Schools by rule are not allowed to offer any form of athletic aid or scholarship. However, D3 schools do have the flexibility to relax admissions standards for recruited student athletes. It’s a big perk for many D3 athletes to be able to get into a great school they otherwise wouldn’t receive admission too otherwise. And while no official athletic aid or scholarships are available, it’s well known that motivated Universities and athletic departments find a way to offer better financial aid packages to preferred recruited student athletes. I can’t tell you who or where – it changes frequently depending on a lot of factors, but there’s no question it happens.

Coaching Staff: Head Coach and 1 assistant. Assistant coach is often part-time

The Differences

The biggest differences between divisions are funding and staffing. For the most part, D1 schools have the biggest budgets, D2 schools are in the middle and D3 schools have very small recruiting budgets. For example, when I worked at Army and Boston University, both schools had women’s basketball recruiting budgets of over $100,000 per year. At the other end of the spectrum, most D3 programs I am familiar with have less than $10,000 in their recruiting budget, and the majority are closer to $1,000 than $10,000.

What it Means for PSAs

What this means is D1 coaches search high and low, travel the country, and pull out all the stops in their recruiting. If your kid is good enough to play D1, D1 coaches will find them. You can try to get on the radar of D1 coaching staffs by sending emails, going to camps, communicating through your high school or AAU coach, but the process rarely begins there. Ultimately, if they’re interested, they’ll let you know. D2 is similar, but there’s a little more leeway.

Division 3, however, is a level where PSA motivation and communication can make a big difference. With D3 coaches having limited time and resources, motivated PSAs can get on the recruiting radar by sending emails, game film, season schedules and generally making it known that they have interest in attending the University. Ability level matters – relentless pursuit doesn’t guarantee recruitment, but you have a much better shot at being looked at if you take initiative contacting a D3 school than a D2 or D1 school. D3 coaches have less time, effort, and energy to expend, so if they know a PSA is actively interested, they immediately move up the priority list. To PSAs seeking recruitment: send an email introducing yourself. Send highlight film AND full game film; coaches want the highlights to give us a quick overview of who you are and what you do but NEED the full game film to confirm what we see in the highlights. This is the best way to get on the radar of a D3 school you’re interested in.

Thanks for reading – join us next time when we discuss the recruiting calendar. Coaches have limitations on when they can go out to watch games, and what they can do while they’re there. Let’s make sure you’re giving yourself or your child the best opportunity to be seen.

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