Skip to main content

How effective communication of a brand can help programs navigate a coming wave of transfers

What’s become clear over the last several months is the pandemic is not going to impact only 2020. The ramifications to college athletics are going to last.

While most conferences are trying to figure out how to keep student-athletes healthy and weighing how much, if at all, to compete in 2020, the long tail of this interruption to college sports could be felt in roster management in 2021 and beyond.

Recruiting experts predict a wave of transfers after all the disruptions to recruiting due to the pandemic. The 2021 and 2022 classes could be the most poorly evaluated in years.

One reason is the lack of the typical scouting cycle. Coaches aren’t on the road. Camps have been canceled. Recruiters must rely on game tape or pre-COVID camps and evaluations — and that’s assuming high school sports are played this season. Many coaches may find that incoming players simply aren’t a fit for the roster or able to compete at the level they need.

The other reason is the difficulty in assessing cultural fit. Of course, this goes both ways for the coach and the prospect.

Spring and summer are critical in recruiting for rising seniors, and now none of that has included face-to-face contact. Presumably, a number of recruits will choose schools they’ve rarely or never visited or programs with coaches they’ve rarely or never met face-to-face.

That sounds like a recipe for a wave of transfers. In that case, preventing roster churn could become a competitive advantage. Stability and the experience and team cohesion that comes with it could give some programs a leg up.

To make the most of limited interactions with recruits, coaches will need to find the most accurate way to portray their programs. They’ll need to create a common language not only to message to recruits, but for a staff to coalesce around shared program values.

Alignment among head coach, assistant, player and recruit will build a more robust culture and help a program exit the pandemic and lockdowns with more buy-in.

Through our work on more than 200 athletic projects across the country, we’ve found that the most effective recruiters and the most effective programs at retaining talent understand their identities. Then, they use those differentiators to permeate the entire recruiting process.

A misaligned recruiting experience — from pitch to official visit to close — can handcuff a program. Misperceptions can mean a good fit for the team is kept out and the wrong fit is let in.

This is hard enough to achieve under the best of circumstances — and these are not the best of circumstances.

The programs that thrive after this disruptive phase may be the ones that hold their teams together. They’ll overcome recruiting over Facetime and virtual tours because they know their brands. And more important, their incoming players do, too.

Learn More at The Recruiting Playbook

Leave a Reply