College Recruiting

Look for Colleges that offer Crew

There are over 150 NCAA college rowing teams, with scholarship  opportunities in the US. The Sparks College Rowing Database can help you decide which one is right for you

Investigate different crew programs and what they have to offer you. Evaluate what you want from rowing: an admissions hook, scholarship, competitive team, maximum opportunity to compete, academic assistance, balanced experience, etc.

Most scholarships are available for women’s rowing because of its NCAA status.

Find out how much time is spent practicing, their division or league, how busy is the team’s schedule, how much travel, what are the training expectations during and after the season, does the student body support crew, how big is the program, what is their record, how are athletes housed, etc.

Do you want to be on a top team even if you never get in the top boat? Would you rather be a top rower on a less competitive team? Do you want time for other activities? How hard do you want to work at rowing?


Become familiar with NCAA Eligibility and Recruiting Rules

Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse

Read through the most updated NCAA Recruiting rules with change from year to year


Contact the Coach

If you are interested in a college crew program you may contact the coach, make sure to follow NCAA Recruiting rules.

Present yourself in the best possible light; be confident and humble.

Be polite and courteous; the coach is busy and does not have to talk to you.

Know something about the school and why you are interested in rowing there.

Ask about the coach’s philosophy and any questions that have not been answered on the school’s website or printed material.

Use all resources you can to learn about colleges and rowing programs.

Visit the school, set up an appointment with the coach, try to see a practice, sit in on classes, and take advantage of programs that let you spend the night on campus.

Without interrogating the coach, try to get your questions answered.

Include your GPA, SAT, unofficial school transcripts, Erg Scores, height, weight, regattas attended, medals won, activities at school and in the community and references.

Fill out the recruiting questionnaire on the colleges’ rowing website; and follow-up with e-mail, call.


Judge your admissibility

It is important to know your GPA-SAT-ACT and Erg Scores.

You must be academically admissible to be considered by the coach. Long before you apply, a coach may ask you to have your high school send your transcripts, profile and SAT/ACT score either to the Athletics Dept. or Admissions; this is called a “preread”.


Erg Score

You need to always know your erg score when talking to a coach.

Remember you can always improve your erg score.

Keep your erg scores posted with USRowing.

Remember: this is for most competitive programs, if the coach doesn’t get athletes with these scores they have to keep recruiting, and walk-ons are still a major part of the sport.


Coaches Contacting Athletes

Coaches per NCAA rules can not contact a rower until July 1st following their junior

Year, but this may change. See NCAA Recruiting rules.

When coaches contact you keep notes about what was discussed, what comes next, if they offer or request anything and additional questions.


Official Visits/Unofficial Visits

For unofficial visits – do as many as you want, and visit a school as many times as you want.

Schools seriously interested in an athlete may invite them for an official visit.

Official visits range from a cup of coffee to an all expense paid 48 hour visit to campus.

You will be asked to send your SAT/ACT scores and transcript prior to the visit.

48 hour official visit: school meets athlete at airport. Recruits attend classes, observe practices (NCAA does not allow recruits to practice with the team), meet with admissions officers, sleep in the dorm, attend social events ranging from team barbeques to frat parties, and interview with the coaches.

Remember: official visits are interviews, the team members and other students will give feedback to the coach about you. Be on your best behavior the entire time you are on campus. Be prepared: official visits are great fun but can be very stressful.


Placement on Recruiting List

Where I am on the Coach’s list? – Ask the coach several times where you stand and let the coach know where the school stands on your list.

You need to know what you are looking for.

Not all coaches give this information willingly. If not, just keep asking politely. Be prepared, you may not get the response you would like.

How many recruits are being looked at? How many will make the list? Usually there are ten on the list; this may include a coxswain.

Sometimes a call from your coach to the college coach may help you get clearer information about where you stand on the recruiting list.


Letters of Intent – Scholarships

NCAA allows up to 20 scholarships for women’s rowing (second only to football).

Signing a Letter of Intent is not for everyone, think it through carefully.

Find out if this is a written contract and what it covers, i.e. medical expenses, major medical?

Ask if the scholarships are full or partial.

Find out how many years the scholarship is offered; what determines renewal?

Does scholarship cover travel, books, etc., or only tuition?

What happens if you are injured; can you be dropped for lack of ability?

Will you need to maintain a set course load and GPA?



Rowing is one sport in college that you can walk-on.

Colleges usually like a squad of 55 and recruit about ten a year, so they are looking for rowers.

Coaches know the bigger the squad the faster the top boat.

Coaches know that walk-ons with no experience may become national champions.

Walk-ons may get scholarships at mid-term.


Parents’ Role

Be supportive.

Help your child gather information about schools and athletic programs.

Objectively evaluate your child’s abilities, skills, and personal habits.

Work with your child to weigh how much time and energy they want to dedicate to college rowing.

Be clear with your child about your expectations: athletic scholarship, financial aid package, opportunity to walk-on, admissions hook.

Be knowledgeable of the recruiting process your child is going through.

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