By Michael Burcin

That seems to be a question that has been the one constant in years of change and turmoil when it comes to collegiate recruiting, and golf is not exempt! The sea of change commenced in 2018 with adjustments made to NCAA Legislation and has not ended as Covid and the Transfer Portal continue to wreak havoc on the process.

It was not that long ago that I was part of recruiting scenarios where 8th graders were on campus for visits and sophomores were accepting offers.  That seems like so long ago in the age or recruiting, while many see the changes as positive. In 2018 the NCAA stepped in and slowed that process down with two main changes in contact dates being later along with when unofficial and official visits could be taken. June 15th following a players sophomore year is now the day when texts and emails can be exchanged while visits of any sort cannot take place until August 1st of the same summer leading into a players junior year.  All of these changes have slowed down offers and decision for the top programs which then trickles down to all levels.

I do not need to recount how all our lives changed due to Covid, but its lasting effects on college athletics are yet to be determined. The NCAA saw this as an opportunity to give conferences and schools the ability to grant all athletes who were in school during the beginning days of Covid, the advantage of an extra year of eligibility.  Different schools handled this opportunity in many different ways and we are still two years away from the last of these extra years of eligibility to be concluded.  This has caused multiple years of less scholarship aid available because of larger rosters, less recruiting opportunities, and some coaches being late in knowing what each class may look like as families and schools make decisions on how to use those extra years.

The last of the three punches to the recruiting process has been the transfer portal.  In the works for years, the NCAA pushed go just prior to Covid and many feel the unintended consequences have been severe.  Players are moving from school to school, playing for one program when they know they are leaving for another, and coaches feeling burned by seeing players leave after years of time and resources were poured into the development of that athlete.  The portal has also caused a reduction of up to one-third of players being recruited from the junior golf ranks at the top 150 programs.  Coaches are attracted to bringing in a transfer who is seasoned on the college game and the pitfalls of adjusting to college. This also has a ripple affect on all levels as the best player from mid majors to Division 3 are taking their talents to higher profile schools.

As I tell all my players from the beginning of the recruiting process, there is never a more important time to be patient and open minded. The recruiting landscape has changed for good and what a coach looked for just five years go, is not what he / she may be looking for today.  Families must be nimble and open too many different programs and scenarios, as we still may not know for years…What Does This All Mean?

Michael Burcin is the owner of Under Par Consulting. UPC focuses on recruiting guidance and player development. Michael was a 17 year D1 golf coach as the assistant coach at University South Carolina from 2004-11, and the head coach at the University of Wisconsin from 2011-2021 / 843-214-4243