The College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), on behalf of the Division I Swimming and Diving, wishes to express opposition to SAEC’s Early Recruiting Proposal. We applaud the effort to reign in early recruiting with proposal 2018-93; however, in swimming and diving this proposal accelerates the recruiting process.
Research conducted by the SAEC clearly illustrates that delaying the recruiting process improves the experience for the prospective student-athlete. It also shows that the recruiting process for swimmers and divers is an overwhelmingly positive one. Given this, we respectfully request that swimming and diving be exempt from the proposal as it will have a deleterious effect on our sport. Further, it is requested that swimming and diving adopt the recruiting model proposed by the SAEC with a timeline that is later than proposed 2018-93.
Our position is supported by Division I swimming and diving coaches, NCAA current student-athletes, prospective student-athletes and their coaches, and the SAEC’s own research.
NCAA Division I Head Swimming & Diving Coaches
Do you support or oppose Proposal 2018-93?
The CSCAA reviewed and received feedback on Proposal 2018-93 during head coaches meetings at the 2019 NCAA Men & Women’s Division I Championships, and the 2019 National Invitational Championship. This feedback was supplemented by a survey of all Division I head coaches.
Over 95% (156 of 164) expressed opposition to Proposal 2018-93 citing the physical maturation, academic preparation and physiological development of PSA’s. Additional concerns included the lack of evaluation opportunities and the risk exposure associated with official visits for 15-16 year-olds. Single-gender programs (which employ two coaches) expressed the belief that 2018-93 place them at an extreme competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis combined programs (which employ five coaches).
Rationale for Opposition to 2018-93
Physical Maturation - The overwhelming majority of swimming & diving PSAs begin to realize their potential late in their high school careers. This legislation encourages PSA’s to make a commitment long before being able to accurately assess their athletic fit.
Academic Preparation - Swimming & diving PSAs are traditionally exceptional students. Few take college entrance exams prior to their junior year. Those who do see, on average, an increase of 40 points per section of the SAT and two points per section of the ACT. This legislation pressures PSA’s to make a decision before being able to assess their academic readiness.Even when a PSA is academically prepared, 2018-93 pressures NCAA coaches into making an offer without any guarantee of admission. This comes at a time when the college admissions scandal is placing every PSA applicant under increased scrutiny.
Physiological Development - By placing an emphasis on earlier recruitment, youth coaches will be pressured to maximize a PSA’s recruiting marketability at the expense of their natural and appropriate development progressions. We see in other sports, where adding components such as strength training and double workouts to maximize early competitive success increases injury rates and stunts athletic development.
Evaluation Opportunities - August is when USA Swimming hosts nationals and other national/international selection meets. The recruiting timeline proposed in 2018-93 preempts many PSA’s last opportunities to showcase their talents before being forced to make commitments and visits. This is exacerbated for divers who cannot even begin competition on the 10m tower until the age of 14. This results in many PSA’s spending less than one year perfecting their craft before beginning the recruiting process.
Risk Mitigation and Effective Decision-Making - Research has shown that adolescents’ brain development and decision-making grow in concert with one another. While each student is unique, their tendency to act impulsively, misinterpret social cues and engage in dangerous or inappropriate behaviors decreases with each passing year. The risk associated with hosting a 15 or 16-year-old on campus for an official visit is of grave concern to our coaches.
NCAA Division I Student-Athletes
In September of 2017 the NCAA Student-Athlete Experience Committee (SAEC) surveyed over 15,000 student-athletes on their recruiting experience. The results illustrate that swimming and diving student-athletes prefer and benefit from a later start to the recruiting process. Results of the survey are provided on the right, but it should be noted that SAEC’s own research illustrates that swimmers and divers:
Are among the latest PSA’s to be recruited (beginning, on average at grade 11.1)
Considered their recruiting experience as positive (84% of male and 85% of female)
Felt their recruiting timeline was either appropriate or should be later (77% of male and 84% of female)
Statement from Jake Gibbons, SEC SAAC Chair
Date: Apr 2, 2019, 12:41 PM
Subj: SEC SAAC - Swimming & Diving Request for Exemption from 2018-93
On behalf of the SEC swimming and diving community, I would like to express overwhelming opposition to SAEC Proposal 2018-93. I share the opinions and reasonings expressed in the letter submitted by the CSCAA to the NCAA Division I Council and would be willing to defend those arguments in front of the Council. I understand the benefit this legislation could serve to other NCAA sports, but swimming & diving will suffer from a further accelerated recruiting cycle. Therefore, I request that the Council consider an exemption of swimming & diving from SAEC 2018-93.
As a swimmer myself, I am concerned that this proposed rule would be detrimental to the development of athletes and collegiate programs. I believe it would encourage predatory recruiting practices that would exploit the immaturity of young PSAs and ultimately lead to less cohesion on college teams and higher transfer rates across the country.
I am hopeful that the SEC can support the opinions of its swimming & diving coaches and SAs and propose that our sport be exempt from 2018-93. I would be more than happy to discuss this matter further with you or defend my position in front of interested parties. I appreciate your time.
Jake Gibbons, Chairman | SEC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)
In lieu of surveying PSAs, the CSCAA reached out to three organizations that represent the entirety of youth swimming in the United States. USA Swimming, the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) and the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) unanimously support exempting swimming and diving from Proposal 2018-93 should it pass. Chief among their concerns are:
Pressure on the PSA - This legislation would encourage PSA’s to make a commitment before they are able to make an informed decision about the fit of a school, both from an academic and an athletic standpoint.
Pressure on the Coach - Coaches are increasingly pressured maximize PSA’s performance at an earlier age at the expense of the PSA’s development, health, and well-being.
Liability - There is significant concern about the prospect of sending 15-16-year-olds on official visits with college athletes aged 18-23.