With the ever-growing concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), it has certainly put many aspects of life, including sports, on hold.
Erin Sykes, a former SEC softball player and now the National Director for Collegiate Sports Advocates, speaks regularly with college and club coaches as well as prospective student-athletes, and has a good perspective on what is going on in softball now and what will happen once the players and coaches get back on the field.
Here are her thoughts…
Our worlds have taken an abrupt halt due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and it’s been an interesting couple of weeks to say the least.
Along with the closing of businesses and schools, we have witnessed our favorite past-times being shut down as well, thus leaving many questions for everyone, but especially parents and players hoping to take their respected skills to the collegiate levels.
We’ve heard mention that the NCAA will be trying to determine a course of action for those current college student athletes who have lost an entire season, but what could the ramifications of these decisions do to current athletes as well as recruits.
The biggest question I am being asked is “if players are granted another year of eligibility what would this mean for everyone (current college player as well as recruits)?”
On Monday, I shared an article written by the Tuscaloosa News. The writer conducted a phone interview with University of Alabama Head Softball Coach Patrick Murphy who discussed the desires of his seven seniors to return next year and the factors that he as a coach must take into consideration if the NCAA were to pass legislation allowing players another year of eligibility.
You wonder what’s about to happen—a lot of questions will need to be answered:
- If all these seniors are returning, the money has to come from somewhere. Could that somewhere end up being from the players not holding up their ends of the bargain?
- Will the money come from the current rostered players who aren’t doing their part or producing on the field or in the classroom, who always seem to have drama around them?
- What about the 2020 signee who isn’t communicating with the staff, or working out like they used to, or failing to make the grades?
- Then there’s the Class of 2021 where the college program thought they needed four infielders but turns out they’ll only need two… will the money come from them?
It’s all going to trickle down eventually into the class of 2022-2023. As Coach Murphy mentions in the news article, the NCAA has guidelines on roster sizes as well as each institution.
Coaches will become increasingly leery of overloading their rosters and the above-mentioned thoughts will help them to make some hard decisions in the long run.
Recruiting could get tighter than it already is for upcoming players. It is going to become essential that signed, committed, and potential prospects are staying on top of the pile and attaining accurate information as well as education on the process and what is happening.
Also mentioned in the article by the Tuscaloosa News is the need for Coach Murphy and the University’s Athletic Academic Advisors to figure out what classes the potential returning seniors could take.
The NCAA has degree completion requirements for each semester that a student athlete is enrolled. They must complete a certain percentage of their degree requirements each semester to maintain their eligibility.
It is going to be tough for academic advisors at institutions to find additional classes for returning seniors and some of these schools will not be able to accommodate their needs at all.
Will these seniors be allowed to transfer?
That just opens more issues because then they have to be placed in the transfer portal. Last I heard, there were over 600 softball players in the portal. Some of these seniors may not actually get picked up, thus still losing out on a chance to finish their careers.
As it stands today, there has been no ruling or decisions made, but they could come as early as this Monday.
This article is merely my speculations and opinions; not to entice fear, but to give you all information to process. I’ve been in contact with college coaches from all levels of the game and have listened to their thoughts on what could potentially come of this and this is a culmination of those conversations.
I took the opportunity to ask college coaches how this could affect their summer recruiting; a common theme among them was that they would be utilizing the relationships with programs and coaches that they’ve already established.
They will attach themselves to tried and trusted relationships with people who have continued to give colleges across the nation a valuable product in players for their layer of the college game.
If things don’t look up in regard to travel players being on the field this summer, recruiting is definitely going to be a huge hurdle to jump for all parties involved.
If I were given the opportunity to be a student-athlete again, I can promise you that the lesson I would have taken from the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 would be this: Treat every rep as though it could be your last!
What you do or don’t do has the ability to determine whether you succeed or fail.
Many of you have a new chance to do things better, get more serious about your game, make you weaknesses your strengths. I think in the long run for potential recruits, college coaches will see the cream rise to the top in the classes of 2021-2023 right now.
Be a do-er not a say-er!
Erin Sykes is the National Director for Softball for Collegiate Sports Advocates (CSA). She was a former SEC player at Ole Miss where, after graduation in 2008, she joined the coaching staff as a Volunteer Assistant from 2008-2010.
Choosing to give up coaching at that level for her new family’s dynamics, she has been working one-on-one with travel softball players and their families for eight years, educating them on what it takes to become a college-ready softball player including five years with CSA.
Erin has helped numerous student-athletes attain their goals of playing college softball at all levels of the game. For more information, contact her at email@example.com.