Recruiting trips hinder student athletes academically

Chronicle Staff

The plane was dark except for one light that shone dimly on a single seat. It was 12:37 early on Thursday morning. The flight was landing. The stewardess walked by Michael Vann ’07 seat and asked him if he needed any last minute beverages. He looked up and politely told her no, only to re-immerse himself in his work.

Vann was returning home from Boston College from an official recruiting trip as a tennis player. His lodging and food were paid for by the school but because of the lack of funding for tennis recruiting, Vann was forced to pay for his flights. This was one of many trips that Vann would be taking to schools all across the country in an effort to gauge how much he liked each school and how well he fit in with the other players.

“These trips are imperative,” Vann said. “I need to get a feel for what these schools are like when they are in session and the only way to do that is to take a visit and unfortunately miss some school.”

Vann said on most days, he does not get to eat lunch. Instead, he must sacrifice his free periods and meet with teachers whose classes he did not attend because of his recruiting getaways.

“It gets difficult because the teachers are not all available when you need them,” Vann said. “I have to pick and choose which classes I care most about. If I can’t meet with a teacher because our frees don’t coincide, I have to try and learn all the material I was absent for on my own.”

Vann has missed a total of five days of school due to all his official recruiting trips and one additional day because of the sickness and lack of sleep.

“An athletic component doesn’t change things with regard to a college visit,” Athletic Director in charge of Communications Terry Barnum reveals. “The student has to let all of his teachers know and if he is in season, he should let his coaches know as well. The only difference is that if it is an official recruiting trip, the kid doesn’t get to decide when he wants to go.”

Barnum conducts weekly meetings with the deans, acting as a liaison between the athletic and academic world. Barnum typically works with 10-15 kids every year, assisting them in the college recruitment process.

“We orchestrate the visits so that the kids will hop on a plane Friday night after a game and fly to the schools for the weekend,” Barnum explained, “The only events they miss are the Saturday practices.”

However, some other athletes are not as lucky.

“I was out of school on Oct. 12 to 14, 17 to 18 and 22 to 23,” Vann said. “I had two tests on the 19, one on the 20 and three papers that I had to turn in on the 24.”

Most colleges see first quarter grades so students cannot slack off and ignore their homework. However, if schools have shown interest in an athlete and have asked them to come visit, the student must reciprocate the interest shown.

“Unless you are the most highly recruited athlete, you must let the school know that you are seriously considering them,” Vann said. “If a coach approaches you, it means that they are interested and if you don’t show interest in return, it’s like a big ‘screw you’ to the school.”