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Incoming class sets record for early decision committment

Incoming class sets record for early decision committment

By Philip Kiely

kielyphil@grinnell.edu

The Grinnell College Athletic Department has used a variety of recruiting strategies to attract student athletes for the class of 2021. While each head coach is partially responsible for recruiting for their own team, the department works with the Office of Admissions to ensure a balanced incoming class of academically qualified student athletes.

“Like the way we operate our athletic program in general, each sport program and head coach has their own autonomy … we need to fit the principles that the admissions office and the college put forth in terms of who we can recruit, in terms of their academic background and their admissibility,” said Andy Hamilton, the Athletic Director.

The process generally starts when prospective students are juniors in high school.

“We work with juniors in high school. Once they become seniors, they come do overnights, hopefully apply, hopefully get in and hopefully attend some of our admitted student programs and ultimately deposit,” said Erin Hurley, the Assistant Athletic Director.

Hurley, who is also the liaison to Admissions, emphasized the importance of getting students to campus.

“It’s some travel, a lot of internet and on the phone, but ultimately its important to get them to campus so they can experience what it would be like if they were a student at Grinnell,” Hurley said.

While the final numbers aren’t in yet, the class of 2021 appears to be following the established pattern of about 25% student athletes. However, the class has set a record of student athletes matriculating through early decision.

“With the class of 2021 we received more commitments through the early decision process than we have in past years. That’s a goal and an emphasis of the admissions department … we try to align with the institutional goals,” Hamilton said.

The department employed a broad base of strategies in recruiting the class of 2021.

“We utilize our alumni base, our former student athletes out in the world teaching and working might come across someone who they think might be a good fit for us and make that connection. We work with high school and club coaches to help identify top students who also could contribute to our athletic program,” Hurley said.

Prospective students learn about the various unique benefits that Grinnell sports offer.

“At Grinnell, most of our head coaches are faculty members … by and large, that doesn’t happen at other division three schools in the country. Another piece is that our facilities are outstanding. Not every Division III school can say that,” Hamilton said.

At Grinnell, coaches understand that academics come first, which is a strong theme in the recruiting process.

“We’re not going to sell something like ‘sports come first.’ A lot of students that look at schools that are the caliber of Grinnell want to prioritize their academics and they’re getting that same feedback from us and that’s a recruiting advantage,” Hurley said.

As Grinnell is a NCAA Division III school, it cannot give scholarships to entice athletes. However, given that most comparable colleges and universities are Division III, this does not represent a huge disadvantage.

“When students are looking at Division III schools, they realize that none of those schools can offer them athletic money, so that’s a level playing field. They know that going in, and that’s the specific type of student athlete, they’re choosing school first,” Hurley said.

The department also recently hired a consultant to give recruiting tips to coaches.

“We hired a professional consultant to come in and talk to our coaches about messaging. It has been really good mentoring. I think that we’ve found that some of our recruiters have been much more productive,” Hamilton said.

Current students also give valuable feedback on the recruiting process.

“Some of that came through feedback from current student athletes about how they were recruited,” Hurley said.

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