The rate of athletes transferring colleges is growing every year. I get a lot of questions from recruits and parents about what their options are and many times, athletes have no choice but to lose a year of eligibility.
This article is for athletes and parents of athletes who are trying to identify the right school. My goal is to give you some insight into why athletes are transferring so much, with the hope you can avoid these problems by doing a little more homework when deciding on a college.
You are choosing a school not a sports team
As an athlete you have the added pressure of deciding on a team and coach you want to play for as well as a university. With so much time going into finding an opportunity to play sports, it is easy to forget you need to be considering the school as well. A lot of athletes who are upset with the school they are at is because they didn’t take enough time to get to know the school first. They spent all of their time focused on the athletics associated with the school, they didn’t realize they wouldn’t like living on the campus, in that town or taking classes there.
The solution is to visit a campus and talk to regular students, not just other athletes. Find out where students typically live and what the town is like. See if you can sit in on classes and maybe talk to a professor who teaches a subject you are interested. Yes, you are probably going to have to be seen walking on campus with your parents, but that perceived embarrassment is a small price to pay compared to transferring and losing a year of eligibility.
You will have things you don’t like
Too many times athletes are transferring or leaving because they don’t like something that is more or less just part of leaving home and going to college. Despite what you see on ESPN, athletes don’t all live in luxury dorms and have access to all you can eat gourmet food. Gross dorm rooms, smelly roommates, loud neighbors, bad professors, and less than five star training facilities are the norm for a lot of colleges. Sometimes even more serious things can happen like break-ins or things getting stolen. Remember, sometimes bad things happen in life and college is life. By no means should you stay in a dangerous situation, but don’t think that leaving a school will fix something like a less than perfect living situation.
As a parent, before your athlete decides to leave a school, make sure you think long and hard about the real reason they are leaving. I’ve seen a lot of athletes leave schools because they just had difficulty adjusting to life away from home. At some point your athlete is going to have a bad day, week or down month, and many times that is part of the adjustment. Ultimately, it is going to be your call on what type of situation is acceptable or not, but several times athletes I’ve talked with simply needed to stick it out a couple more weeks and ended up having a great college experience.
If you are going to leave, you need the coach on your side
My final piece of advice regarding transfers is, if you are committed to leaving the school, you are going to want the coach on your side. Understand that if you are going to leave the program unexpectedly and not give them any warning, they are going to do a little as possible to help you. If you are on the team and especially if you are a scholarship athlete, the coach is committed to keeping you with the team. Talk to them about the problems you are having, show them you are willing to try and make it work. If you still want to leave after trying to make it work, the coach is going to be much more willing to help.
Leaving a school is a very difficult process and having the difficult conversations with coaches is a hard thing to do, but that’s what adulthood is about. No coach expects every athlete to stay with their program 100% of the time, but they do expect you to talk to them if you are having a problem.
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