My choice for reading during my recent vacation was a book by Chris Krause, the founder and president of Chicago-based National Collegiate Scouting Association. A graduate of North Chicago High School and Vanderbilt University, he is a former football player who has been in the recruiting business since 1989.
His book, "Athletes Wanted," is a must read for every parent and athlete who ever gets involved in the recruiting process. I've read dozens of how-to books on recruiting over the years and most of them are helpful and well researched. But Krause's book is best of all, a complete guidebook for maximizing athletic scholarship and life potential.
"I wanted to do it because there never has been a resource that looked at the end result in mind, the end goal, not just a scholarship but a meaningful degree that enables you to provide for your family," Krause said.
"Kids say they want athletic scholarships or go to a Division I or II school. But they never graduate. They don't look at all of their options. Most people don't have a clue about the recruiting process when they start out. They haven't done enough research. They don't understand how the whole process works. And that includes the schools, coaches and counselors.
"They don't know how to leverage the sports angle and negotiate the best financial aid package. In this book, I wanted to focus on the benefits of athletics, what sports can do for them. People don't appreciate the value of the academic support that colleges can offer an athlete. People don't realize that by playing sports you separate yourself from all others who are going into the job market."
Krause, who founded NCSA in 2000, tried to answer as many questions as he could in his 354-page book. A total of 2,000 copies were printed for an advance preview and so far, he said, no one has complained that he missed anything. No wonder. He had accumulated data for 20 years and did two years of research before making a decision to write this book.
"I saw all the books out there, all the same thing, nothing that dug into the benefits of sports as to why your son should play in college or the benefits of playing in college and what it does for the rest of your life," Krause said. "Most of the other books were how-to guides, telling kids to make a resume and call coaches and wish them good luck. I wanted to do something better."
The book, complete with dozens of interesting facts that would delight any trivia expert, includes chapters on the benefits of participating in athletics, the history of college recruiting, role of parents, how to communicate with coaches, marketing the student-athlete and everything you need to know about scholarships, videos, financial aid, admissions, camps, combines and recruiting services.
For example, did you know that a college football staff might send 10,000 to 15,000 letters and watch 1,000 to 2,000 videos before making 500 phone calls to potential recruits, then verbally offer between 65 and 200 scholarships and extend up to 85 offers for official visits before signing a maximum of 25 players per year?
Makes you want to know what you have to do to become one of those 25 players, doesn't it?
It's all in Krause's book. He is becoming a significant player in the recruiting business, not just for football but for all sports, boys and girls. NCSA employs 25 full-time, in-house people and 45 scouts around the country. The data base has 40,000 college coaches in 30 sports and 1,700 colleges and universities--Division I, II, III, NAIA and junior college. NCSA has 10,000 clients and 96 percent of those in the class of 2005 went on to compete in college.
Krause points out one very interesting statistic that all parents and athletes should understand: 83 percent of the opportunities to compete in college come outside of Division I. Another interesting statistic: According to the Big 10, over 50 percent of the kids who signed men's basketball scholarships in the 1990s either dropped out, flunked out or transferred by the end of their sophomore year.
"What it says is kids aren't making educated choices and colleges are stockpiling and overrecruiting," Krause said. "Kids don't look at school for education. We have power rankings in athlete graduation rates. More than 50 percent of the schools that rank highest in the top 50 aren't Division I-A programs. It means kids aren't being exposed to opportunities outside of the big-name schools."
If you read Krause's book, you will.