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Modern Coaches Recruit with Admissions

Jules Struck ’19, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Dickinson coaches used to be hired as educational professionals, but their role now has shifted to recruitment—one reason why physical education requirements are gone.

“The recruitment of student-athletes has always been a top priority of our coaches,” said Director of Athletics Joel Quattrone. “Over time the methods by which we recruit have changed, and the amount of time and effort devoted to the responsibility has increased,” he said. 

Today, the Interim Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions for Dickinson, Cathy Davenport ’87, says “My conversation with coaches, it’s similar to the conversation I had with our own recruitment staff” at admissions.

Susan Perabo, the chair of the All-College Committee on Academic Program and Standards, said recruitment was a “piece” of why the P.E. credit was eliminated. “If we can find a way to give coaches more time and more flexibility, we want to be able to do that,” said Perabo. “Coaches were having to choose between teaching P.E. classes and meeting recruits. And that is not consistent with the way athletic programs of our caliber should work and do work at most places.”

Coaches spend much of their time recruiting prospective athletes, which used to be a part of Division I athletics only, but “Division III recruiting now is not that much different that Division I recruiting,” said Head Cross Country and Track & Field Coach Don Nichter. 

Davenport said that as a Division III school, Dickinson athletes’ “focus is on your academics, and you are working your sport to complement [that].” Coaches share information with admissions to determine whether a potential applicant would fit academically with Dickinson. Coaches gather information about athletes, and that “is shared with [admissions] so we kind of know who they’re seeing, what the interest might be,” said Davenport. 

Davenport said about 25% of all Dickinson students are student athletes, so “you’re looking at potentially 500 to 600 inquiries across all sports… I will see only the [athlete profiles] that are priorities on [coaches’] part. This past year I did previews on roughly 350 students,” she said.  

Athletic scholarships are not offered to students at Dickinson because the school is Division III. “We are need-aware across the board for every student,” said Davenport. 

“Recruiting is a year-round activity, and it begins much earlier with the prospects,” said Quattrone. Coaches recruit by making school and home visits, attending games and summer showcases, holding clinics, sending letters, watching athlete films, attending weekend events and making contacts. 

“Fitness culture has changed from 35 years ago,” said Nichter, “We never recruited like what we do now.” Nichter said that when he came to Dickinson in 1983 “everyone was a physical educator,” and classes included stress management and science-based wellness education along with a requirement for six-credits of physical fitness. 

Now, “highly specialized” coaches run fitness at Dickinson, and the last of Dickinson’s P.E. credit requirements was eliminated in December 2018. Technology and extensive fitness facilities through the Kline allow students to work out independently, said Nichter. It’s “the evolution of sports in America,” he said. 

Still, Nichter said, “I’m sad there’s no requirement anymore.” Nichter taught spinning class, and said “there are students that are going to miss out… I’ll miss having a class like that.” 

“I think that connection, I’m going to miss that the most,” he said.

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Modern Coaches Recruit with Admissions