A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Parents Need To Start Prepping Their High School Stars Now
SAN ANTONIO – College football is in full swing and believe it or not, high school football is up and going across the country too. But when it comes to what parents truly care about, it is the sports their kids are involved in at the high school level and that is not just those who play on the gridiron.
For many African American parents, that means sons and/or daughters who are in volleyball, water polo, soccer, cross country and other fall sports right now while there are thousands of other kids getting ready for their spring and/or winter sports.
But what do parents do when they want to ensure that their child’s athletic abilities may be able carry them into college? What type of information do they need to help equip these young athletes; especially those coming from the African American community?
Last year when I wrote a quick piece on this topic, my purpose was to try and give a 1,500 or 2,000 word piece that had information just jam-packed on the site. This year I want to really expound on this topic because it is very important to understand how the process works.
So let’s get started with the basics on what parents need to do to ensure that their high school athlete gets maximum effort off the field of play by having all the tools in the classroom.
I’ve have constantly told many friends and acquaintances that today’s parents have it made over even parents of ten to fifteen years ago. Back then, the Internet really wasn’t this bastion of information that it is now and researching on such a topic like this was an arduous task that very few wanted to even conquer.
But today parents have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. The problem there though is what information is truly usable and what is basically garbage.
For African Americans, this task is increasingly difficult because they are dealing with some issues that other parents may never face and that include income levels in a household or lack of substantial resources to get this vital information.
That is why this article is so important. This first subtopic is as crucial for them as anyone else who reads this piece because in the next few paragraphs, these parents will be given a good size road map and directions that hopefully will help them obtain the athletic scholarships at the schools of their children’s’ choice and not the other way around.
WHERE TO BEGIN ON THIS QUEST FOR SCHOLARSHIPS If you search the net, you will find all types of websites, articles and other tidbits that may or may not be what you are looking for. In doing a search, make sure you read an article I wrote last year on this same topic entitled, “Parents Now Have An Ally In Preparing Their Star Athletes For College” that I published on this site back in May of 2005.
And when you are searching, you are going to come across a company that I whole-heartedly believe in and one that you will read about a little later. The Athletic Group, based out of Columbia, Maryland has my complete and undying support in what they do and this article is going to be sort of an infomercial for them as much as a road map for the parents on how to maneuver through the college athlete maze that the NCAA has set up.
But more on TAG a little later, right now you need to realize that there are several steps, sub steps and even new steps in making your child’s dream come true. What I have done is actually whittle those steps down into some very manageable moves that take out the guesswork in trying to find the right information. Those steps are the following:
• Understanding the role your high school counselor has in this process • Understanding why the Clearinghouse process is important • Knowing that the NCAA is actually beneficial to you and your child • Understanding why you must have your own copy of the NCAA ‘manual’ • Helping your child put all of this together along with film showcasing his/her athletic ability and marketability to coaches Let’s take each step in order and I’ll try to provide you with as much information as you need on each topic and I will also reference the NCAA a lot for this article. One of the documents I will be referring to is called the “Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete”.
You are going to actually need this document to go along with this article. You can download a free copy of the 36-page document at: http://www.ncaa.org/library/general/cbsa/2005-06/2005-06_cbsa.pdf.
Keep this document handy, as I will refer to it often. Now let’s begin sending your child to college on that scholarship.
THE ROLE YOUR COUNSELOR HAS IN THIS PROCESS Whether you want to believe it or not, a high school counselor is vitally important in this process because he or she holds one of the keys to getting an athletic scholarship from a school.
What key does this school professional hold beyond a high school varsity coach? Helping your child take the proper course work for college entrance acceptance.
Your child’s high school counselor is the one person who can help you gauge how well your child is doing in class through out his or her high school career. It is this professional’s job to help guide your child on a correct career path but also to steer them into college. That means that your child will have to take acceptable classes to get that task done.
That means that courses that they may not be very good at will have to be mastered. It means that they may have to be tested as well on their learning ability. This is where the counselor comes into play for you and it is your job as a parent to actually assist this professional in assessing your child.
So how can you help the counselor in determining if your child is college bound material? That comes from the guide I mentioned earlier and that you downloaded. The NCAA has a set of criteria that they go by for each and ever-prospective college athlete. Amongst this criterion is what they call “core” classes.
On pages seven and eight of the guide, those classes are listed but here are those paragraphs, verbatim as printed in the publication on page seven: If you enroll in a Division I college in 2005-2007 and want to participate in athletics or receive an athletics scholarship during your first year, you must:
• Graduate from high school; • Complete these 14 core courses: – 4 years of English – 2 years of math (algebra 1 or higher) – 2 years of natural or physical science (including one year of lab science if offered by your high school) – 1 extra year of English, math or natural or physical science – 2 years of social science – 3 years of extra core courses (from any category above, or foreign language, non-doctrinal religion or philosophy); • Earn a minimum required grade-point average in your core courses; and • Earn a combined SAT or ACT sum score that matches your core-course grade-point average and test score sliding scale on this page (for example, a 2.400 core-course grade-point average needs a 860 SAT).
Let’s stay on page seven just a bit longer for those parents who have seniors looking for scholarships. There are also two other aspects that have been mentioned above but need to be expounded on. The first is the GPA that your child has at the end of the school year upon graduation. The second is the SAT or ACT test score.
Independently these two criteria are indeed important but when combined, they can actually help your child gain admittance into some of the more ‘prestigious’ schools because they are to be used conjointly. Let’s look at the SAT/ACT test score table that’s on page seven for more clarification. If you notice, the higher the GPA, the lower the qualifying test score is required.
At the Division I level, that is important because the classes are much bigger than at the D2 or D3 levels. The requirements are also the stringiest at the top level. As a parent, you need to use the D1 levels as your benchmark of your child’s performance and you should talk that over with your child’s counselor.
Also what is important for those parents who have seniors is the test dates for the ACT/SAT. On page eleven is a list of test dates for these tests. Those have all passed.
However if you go to www.collegeboard.com or www.act.org, you can find the most up to date information available on these two college admissions tests.
WHY THE CLEARINGHOUSE PROCESS IS IMPORTANT So now you have somewhat of an idea what the NCAA is looking for in college prep classes and you can help your child’s counselor make sure that the proper classes meets those guidelines. So what’s next? Well for juniors and seniors, it’s on to the clearinghouse to get certified.
The NCAA Clearing House (www.ncaaclearinghouse.net) is where your son or daughter must be registered to begin their scholarship journey. If you turn to page fourteen of your guide, this is the part of the guide that actually explains what the clearinghouse’s job is for you in detail.
In short, the clearing house “evaluates your academic record to determine if you are eligible to participate at a Division I or II college as a freshman student-athlete. (The clearinghouse is not the NCAA, but an organization that performs academic evaluations for the NCAA.).” It is very important that you and your child read this section thoroughly because you will need to use the afore mentioned website to log into the clearinghouse and to check your progress.
This is probably the most tedious portion of trying to obtain an athletic scholarship because of the forms you will need to download and print out, because you and your child will be in constant communication with the school’s counselor and because it is actually up to you or your child to make sure everything is correct.
This is also where that myth that scholarships are just handed out to the gifted kids ends. Every potential student athlete has to go through this screening process for either a D1 or D2 school. If the clearinghouse does not certify your child as a student athlete for whatever school offers the scholarship, the dream has to be started all over again at this very point.
When you get a moment, go to the clearinghouse’s website and browse through it. Become familiar with what the site is all about and go through your guide as well on this section. I can’t stress this enough but it is very important that you and your child understand the importance of this clearinghouse.
There truly is no other way that I know of in getting a scholarship to play sports except through being certified to play. In a moment you will understand why this particular institution is so vital in a school’s eligibility.
THE NCAA IS BENEFICIAL TO YOU AND YOUR CHILD There is a misnomer floating around that the NCAA is actually trying to destroy the avenues of playing sports for Black athletes. Yes even on this website there have been commentaries and such on the subject.
However, what I want to really stress to anyone reading this piece is that the only way for a Black athlete to truly succeed towards a glimpse at a professional sports career is 99% through collegiate athletics.
There are very few high school superstars these days at any level and it truly is time for this particular community to stop thinking that college sports is a malignant tumor for today’s youth.
Now am I saying that if your child goes to a college and plays in a sport, that he or she will become a millionaire a few times over? No I’m not saying anything of the sort.
The percentage for professional athletes actually dwindles considerably at this juncture because you are looking at possibly the best of the best in various sports. But will their participation help them get a degree and become more successful in life? It can if they understand how the rules work.
Parents and future college players alike must realize that playing at the University of Michigan or Notre Dame is a privilege and not a right. The hard work that your child puts in at the high school level to even be considered fortunate to get a yearly athletic scholarship is enormous in itself and once they have gained a scholarship, there are so many perils laid out before them.
That is why it is imperative for parents to become very active in their child’s collegiate career as well. There are grade point averages to maintain while your child is playing for Baylor. There is a timeline of degree completion that must be adhered to for that child who is at Florida A&M University while playing basketball.
There are some pretty strict rules to adhere to that I will mention later on but the NCAA is not against Blacks getting degrees; they are about making sure that every student athlete follows the codes and bylaws that it has in place.
So parents, let me segway into the next topic and that is actually knowing the rules of the NCAA.
WHY YOU MUST HAVE A COPY OF THE NCAA ‘MANUAL’ You want to know why so many kids who play collegiate sports get themselves and their school’s programs in trouble today? It is because neither that college athlete nor their parent or guardian has ever taken the time to read the NCAA manual of operations.
Now you are probably asking what the heck is that but I’m getting ready to tell you. The NCAA has a set of bylaws for all three divisions of the schools they oversee.
The manual, just like the guide you downloaded, is free to anyone who wants it. For those who are interested in having their child attend D1 schools, download their manual at http://www.ncaa.org/library/membership/division_i_manual/2006-07/2006-07_d1_manual.pdf.
For those who may have a child attend a D2 school, that manual can be downloaded at http://www.ncaa.org/library/membership/division_ii_manual/2006-07/2006-07_d2_manual.pdf.
And of course for those looking to have their child attend a D3 school, that manual can be downloaded at http://www.ncaa.org/library/membership/division_iii_manual/2006-07/2006-07_d3_manual.pdf.
No matter which manual you download, you will need to read it from front to back and understand what it is for your child to be a student-athlete in college and what are your dos and don’ts as a parent.
The very sports stories that you have read on the BASN website and other news mediums involving college kids being stripped of their eligibility and programs being put on probation stems from those very books. Why did SMU receive the “death penalty’ back in the early 1990s?
Because of violations by the school’s athletic department as defined in the manuals described above. Why did FAMU go through it’s own personal hell a couple of years ago? Because somebody didn’t follow the bylaws in the manuals.
But why should you as a parent read such mutterance? Because your child will be subjected to these very bylaws and both you and that student athlete must understand them.
I want to really stress this sub topic because even though other ethnicities may have student athletes violate the bylaws, we are especially prone to such temptations. Remember when I mentioned that some Black households might struggle while a child is playing collegiate sports?
Well this is the very reason why parents and others in the family should be reading these manuals. As stringent as they are, these bylaws can actually keep your child from becoming just another statistic on somebody’s sports page.
For those who have downloaded the D1 manual, I want to bring your attention to one key section that your child and you must thoroughly familiarize yourself with. Following ‘articles’ of the manual. Those articles are going to be articles ten and articles 12-16.
While every article in the manual is important for you and your child to read, it is imperative that you go over these important articles so that you can familiarize yourself as to what is considered ethical behavior by your student-athlete, what is excusable financial aid given to him or her, what is an acceptable expense and so on.
In the guidebook, there is a section about recruiting. While not mentioned in the manual you just downloaded the recruiting process is very important for you and your child. On page 27 are a list of what can be expected by college coaches who are trying to recruit your child to a particular school.
To ensure that your child remains eligible, it is a very good idea for you to read through this section, familiarize yourself with the procedures and keep track of the calls and visits yourself. It is your job to make sure that your child remains eligible for a scholarship should he or she become fortunate in getting recruited; not the school or the coach.
As a parent, you need to keep the NCAA manual handy and refer to it during the time your child is at school. The manual pretty much can answer all of your questions on what is acceptable as far as gifts and such and should you have any questions, there are resources to help you find those answers.
PUTTING THIS TOGETHER IN A SHOWCASE FOR COACHES Okay so now that I have given you the ammunition to go out and get an athletic scholarship, think you can do it? What if I gave you some added resources to ensure that you have the best chance possible? Would you take it? Well here’s that added resource and it comes from my friends at The Athletic Group.
If you read my story I mentioned very early in this piece, you have a very good idea about what this company can do but it won’t hurt mentioning it again. TAG, as it’s known, is one of the premiere scholarship preparation companies in the country and is for all prospective student athletes wanting to achieve the dream of playing for a college.
So how did TAG get started? Greg Peel is the brain trust behind this dynamic company. It was actually an experience that Greg had that brought this idea to fruition. On the reason why TAG was started, the site says “Due to the rising costs of college educations in the US, more and more students are seeking ways to ease the financial burden of higher education.
For qualified student athletes a sports scholarship can make a significant difference in their choice of schools, and can even determine whether or not they pursue a college degree. Many talented student athletes lose out on the chance for scholarships because of the following reasons:
1. Being reactive vs. proactive in the college recruiting process 2. Not taking the SAT/ACT early so that corrective actions can be taken if necessary 3. Not understanding the importance of marketing themselves to colleges recruiters way prior to their senior year 4. Failure to understand the importance of capturing proper video footage so college coaches can monitor their progress.
TAG’s services and expertise will make the difference for these students and ‘Help young athletes achieve college dreams.” It is those services and expertise from TAG’s staff that I whole-heartedly endorse independently from even this site. The very reason why I put TAG into an article about college scholarships is that parents need a reliable company that can take the information that I am providing right now and move them onto the next level.
That is what this company can do AFTER a parent reads this article.
Many parents are wondering why a company like TAG is so important. Let me introduce you to something that many parents don’t realize and that is competition just to go to the same school to play the same sport. Let’s refer back to the NCAA guidebook for prospective student athletes. Turn to page 20 of the .PDF file on your screen. The section is entitled “questions to ask as you consider colleges”.
Now this section is for your child but as a parent you can read it as well. There is a list of questions on that page and they are very important because when it comes to playing time, your child needs to understand the depth chart of a team.
One of the questions on that page is “What other players may be competing at the same position?”. That is why TAG is important. This company takes over in the realm of marketing your child. They provide the visualization and ad campaign to get that coach to take your child and not the child in the next city.
A very quick synopsis of their services are SAT preparation, recruitment preparation, video production of your child’s highlight film and other services to numerous to mention. How successful is this company? As you peruse their site, check out the section under the “news” tab titled TAG signings and see for yourself.
As a matter of fact I encourage you to go through their site and find out as much information about the company that you can for yourself. I think you will find that this company may be that extra ingredient to help you get over the hump on this endeavor plus they can answer qu3estions that I know I may have forgotten.
Take these tidbits of information I’ve provided and add them to your library parents. Hopefully what this article has done is empower many to understand and achieve some lifelong goals for their kids.
In the end it is all about the kids who do want to go to college and if a scholarship from athletic ability helps even one family today, that’s one more family that is helped as compared to none in the past few days.