5 Important Reasons Why College Coaches Evaluate Parents

By spongecoach
If you think that college coaches are only looking at your son or daughter during the recruiting process, you’re deeply mistaken. There are many important reasons why college coaches evaluate the parents of recruits they’re courting. However, the main reason is simple: A parent’s behavior shows a college coach a lot about what they are going to get themselves into over the next four years while coaching that parent’s child, so for parents having parent and child bays marked is great when they go out in the streets.
And, to the parents of recruits that are a headache or a distraction, odds are going to be that your child’s desired list of coaches they want to play for going to take a hard pass. Don’t take our word for it, take Northwestern Football’s Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s word for it:

“If the parents don’t fit, we punt on the player.” – Pat Fitzgerald

You can go ahead and think ‘yeah, whatever you say’. Most crazy, irrational parents usually do because they believe that ‘talent trumps everything’. It couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Now more than ever, college coaches across the country are constantly monitoring the behavior, demeanor, and attitude of parents during the recruiting process.
Why? Well, the overarching reason why is because a parent’s behavior and demeanor gives college coaches a ton of insight into what type of athlete they are recruiting.
So, parents… You need to realize that you need to be on your best behavior.
In order to help you be on your best behavior and not be that “crazy parent” in the stands, we have broken the overarching theme down into five reasons why college coaches are always watching a recruit’s parents.
And, we have provided the actions you can take as a parent to make sure that your child stands out for the right reasons.

Parents of Recruits: 5 Important Reasons Why You’re Being Evaluated

5  Parents of recruits reveal what type of student-athlete the coach is recruiting.
Right when a college coach sits down with the parents of recruits they’re going after, the first questions that they are going to want to have answered are:

  • Can the recruit get into school?
  • How much does the recruit and their parents value academics?

Because it gives a college coach insight into the type of student-athlete they are going to add to their program. No matter how great you think your son or daughter is in high school, college is a completely different ballgame.  And, the recruits that truly value academics are the ones that tend to succeed.
The recruits that don’t value academics, in majority, are usually the ones that have a tough time succeeding.  They’re usually the student-athletes that end up flunking out, dropping out, transferring, or just scrape by because they believe that the sole reason they are in college is to play athletics. They lose sight that they’re there to receive an education and in turn, lose the opportunity to fully explore the experience of going to college.
What student-athletes need to know is that college coaches want student-athletes that will achieve two things:

The reason why these are important to a college coach is because:

  • Academically ineligible players can’t play
  • Graduation rates reflect the health of the program

One of the main reasons why college coaches get fired is because of their graduation rate. If a coach is recruiting players that flunk out, transfer, or quit going to school, then that coach runs the risk of losing their job sooner than later. And, if you don’t notice already, college coaching jobs are pretty nice.
In order to make sure that they keep the president, provosts, deans, and alumni proud of their program, these coaches recruit players that they believe are going to succeed and graduate from the program.
Parental support plays a huge role in whether or not a recruit will succeed once they become a student-athlete. Going to college as a full-time student and playing the highest level of athletics in your career is not an easy task.  Over the four years, there will be times that student-athletes crack from the physical and emotional demand of playing college sports.
All the coach wants to do is make sure that a recruit’s parents value academics and that they will be there to support their child when the demands of being a student-athlete take a toll on them.
4  Parents of recruits will reveal how much of a distraction/help they will be to their child.
Being a student-athlete is hard.  It’s pretty much a full time job. Between school, team workouts, practice, homework, and squeezing in a little bit of a social life, student-athletes don’t have a lot of time.  So, time management, focus, and attitude are huge factors that determine whether or not a student-athlete will succeed in their four, or five, years at school.
And, you can bet that there will be regular phone calls to home over the span of those four years. There will be complaints about being tired, about coaches being unfair, about not having fun or enough time to do anything, and about their professors being too hard.
College coaches are looking for parents that will be supportive of the coach and the program when their kids call home. They want parents that understand the gravity of the opportunity that their child has been given and be a support net when their child feels like falling down.  Parents that crack the whip when necessary, show love and support during times of adversity, and don’t allow their children to lose focus are worth their weight in gold to college coaches.
What college coaches don’t need are parents of recruits that will become distractions. Those types of parents tend to believe that their actions don’t have any consequences, rendering them as a terrible reflection of the program and of the university. Examples of parents that are distractions are, but not limited to, the following:

  • Let their child complain about their situation constantly, making it become habitual.
  • Only care about their child’s success & not the success of the program.
  • Point the finger of blame for their child’s shortcomings.
  • Support negative talk and become critical about coaches and the program.
  • Become abrasive towards the program and other parents, causing division & isolation.
  • Believe that college athletics are a “stepping stone” to professional sports.
  • Don’t value academic performance and discipline their child when they slump.

Parents of recruits need to realize that being a collegiate athlete is hard and that the world doesn’t revolve around their kid. In the words of John Wooden – Don’t let them whine. Don’t let them complain. Don’t let them make excuses.
3   Parents of recruits will foreshadow how they will represent the program & school.
Boisterous parents that are a distraction will raise a big red flag when it comes to evaluating a recruit’s parents.  Colleges are institutions of higher learning and they represent what being part of a polished, educated society are about.
Parents of recruits that “have no filter”, meaning zero self-control when it comes to opening their mouths, are not the type of parent that college coaches want to be a part of their program.  The last thing that a school wants is a parent that will represent the program and the school in a negative light when they are out in the public.
And, attitude reflects leadership. Odds are that if a recruit’s parents are overbearing, outspoken, and unprofessional, then they will be too. Now, exceptions to this rule can occur, but they are very rare. College coaches want emotionally mature parents that are BOTH supportive of the program and of their child. They don’t want parents that will point the finger of blame, be a liability at games with their outlandish behavior, or criticize the program on social media.
2   Parents of recruits foreshadow if they will be a handful in the future
Outlandish behavior from a parent shows college coaches that there will be some baggage to come in the future if their child is offered an opportunity to play.  College coaches are busy.  Very, very busy. They have to monitor their current team, make sure their players are on schedule to graduate, prepare for games by watching game film, meet with assistant coaches to strategize, go to school and alumni events, deal with compliance… The list goes on and on.
The last thing that a college coach wants to deal with is a parent that wants to talk about their child’s progress – they don’t have time for that.
There may be circumstances where a parent needs to talk to a coach about a real, significant emergency, and those instances happen every year.  However, a coach doesn’t have time to talk to a parent about their child’s progress and concerns.
A perk about coaching in college is that you get to, in theory, coach motivated and driven student-athletes that carry themselves like adults.  There are no parents involved. And outside of emergencies, there should be no parents involved. If a parent projects that they are going to be a handful in the future, coaches will politely step away and focus on recruiting a kid of a lesser ability to play the game with supportive and mature parents.
1   Parents of recruits provide insight into the maturity and character of the recruit.
The reason why parents give insight and don’t 100% certainly foreshadow what a recruit’s character is going to be like is because there are a lot of great kids that come from broken homes.
When a coach starts to recruit a player, they are always going to want to meet the parents of recruits they’re interested in.  And, its not always because the coach wants to win over mom and dad or to receive insight from the recruit’s parents on where they are on the “desired college depth chart”.
A lot of the time, college coaches will sit down with a the parents of recruits they’re interested in because they’re trying to evaluate whether or not that recruit has the character and values that are in line with their program. When college coaches evaluate the parents of recruits, they are trying to get the answers to questions such as:

  • Will the recruit value academics, athletics, or both?
  • Will the recruit, and the parents, represent the program with professionalism and integrity?
  • How will the recruit respond when faced with adversity?
  • Will the recruit have a high level of emotional intelligence?
  • How will the recruit respect authority?
  • Will they understand the demand of being a student-athlete?
  • How will the recruit handle criticism from coaches, professors, alumni, and fans?
  • Will they be self-centered or will they be a good teammate?
  • Will they have the discipline & mental toughness to succeed in college?

How do you make sure that you don’t hurt your child’s chances of playing collegiate sports or earning a college scholarship?
You need to be a fit, according to Northwestern University’s Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald.

  1. It shows how much the recruit values being a student-athlete
  2. It shows if, and how much, of a distraction or help the parents will be
  3. It shows if the parents will positively represent the program
  4. It shows if the parents will be a handful
  5. It shows the maturity level and core values they can expect from the recruit