College Baseball Scholarship: What makes a good offer?

There are a many things to consider when reviewing a baseball scholarship offer. There are a vast number of scholarship types depending on whether you're considering a Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA, JUCO or other offers. Let's take a look at a few key items and help you make the best informed decision.

Recruiting for a high school player is exciting, nerve-racking, peer pressure filled, tedious and sometimes scary. It can also be compared to an emotional "roller coaster ride" for the player's and families. However, as they say, being in the game is far better than not getting in the game at all.

For the purpose of this discussion we will consider a scholarship offer for a NCAA Division 1 recruit only. It is important to keep in mind that a Division college baseball coach is only allowed 11.7 scholarships to work with. In some cases an individual college will choose not to fund all 11.7 scholarships. Depending on the size of the school, the commitment of the school and the willingness to fund up to 11.7 scholarships can, and will, vary. In addition, the coach can only offer 27 players some piece of the scholarship with the minimum being 25%.

A coach will try to get his best value when recruiting your son. Don't take this personally -- it is the nature of the business. Remember, he's trying to fill the team with many good athletes and with a limit of 11.7 he can only do so much.

When coaches begin to express an interest, it is much like a courtship. They call, they send you letters, text messages, emails and possibly invite you for a visit. They want you to choose their school over all others and will try to impress you. Some of the promises they make will turn out to be the reality. Measure and investigate anything you fell uncomfortable with. They will also begin trying to impress your parents, seeking their blessings and trying to establish an alliance between you and their school.

Most schools scholarship dollars are divided similar in that they will offer higher scholarship dollars as follows:

1) Premier Pitchers – good pitchers are always being sought. Especially if you are left handed.

2) Premier Hitters – the old saying, "if you can hit they will find a place to play you" is very true. Your defensive skills will still be important but can sometime be overlooked if you can hit for power.

3) Premier Catchers, Middle Infielders and CF – players in these positions play a key part in a team playing good defense and are of real value

4) Other position players are sort of left to fight for the remaining scholarship dollars available.

It is generally acknowledged that a 50% offer is "a good offer". Pitchers may get more. The more important question is 50% of what? Is it 50% of room, board, tuition, fees and books or is it a percentage of tuition only? It is important to ask questions and understand fully what is being offered. In some cases, rather than discussing a percentage, the coach will discuss a total dollar amount. Be prepared to discuss both methods.

Assuming he is ready to talk to you about a scholarship, you need to be prepared to come to a reasonably quick decision on either accepting the offer or moving on to consider other offers. In either case it becomes a matter of weighing the offer from one school against another. Be very careful when walking away from an offer without having another offer available to you. Once you ask for time to review your options the coach will normally say "take all the time you want but be aware that we're still working to fill that position" which basically means if he finds someone else he will withdraw his offer to you. Act quickly.

If two offers are available, both at 50%, consider the education and the overall costs from both schools. If one school costs $15K/year and the other is $25K/year, remember your family is responsible for the remaining $7.5K/yr and $12.5K/yr respectively. Families need to ask themselves how much can we afford, per year, for our son's college education? This is the same question that a family would ask if their child were not an athlete.

When it comes time to negotiate, listen to exactly what the coach offers. Then repeat back to the coach what you think you heard to insure there is complete understanding. Be careful about demanding additional amounts since he only has limited funds and for every dollar he spends on your son he won't be able to spend on other players to improve the competitiveness of the overall team.

Rule of thumb, at least in the baseball world, is that once a verbal is agreed to that both parties will stay loyal. Enjoy the ride.