When do I tell a college coach you won't be attending their school?

Many students struggle with the phone call where they tell a college coach, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but I won’t be coming to your school.” It’s a hard conversation to have, but one that is critical once you know you’re not going to attend a given school.

The reality for a college coach is that the second best thing your son or daughter can tell them is “no.” While the coach would obviously rather hear you say yes, hearing no allows them to move on to the next recruit.  

This is especially true if scholarships are part of the offer from this coach. College coaches have a finite amount of scholarship money. It’s absolutely inappropriate for your son or daughter to fail to tell the college coach their intention once they have made up their mind that they won’t be attending that school. In this scenario, you’re essentially hurting another recruit in the process, a recruit that is being asked by this coach to come for a smaller scholarship or walk on. The coach is waiting to hear from your family and, obviously, can’t offer the athletic scholarship to another recruit until your son or daughter tells that coach no.  

We know these phone conversations are hard, but remember that the coaches hear no all the time. That’s the nature of their business. College coaches recruit several high school students at a time and hope that a couple will choose their school. The college coach is going to hear no much more than they’re going to hear yes — it’s something they deal with every year. Again, no is the second best answer they can hear from you.

The final point to be made here is that your daughter or son must call the coach. The coach will have spent hours with them (and you) during this process, on the phone, on official or unofficial visits, possibly watching them at a meet and perhaps even visiting your home. Sending an email is simply inappropriate. Again, we’re not saying this will be an easy conversation, but it’s a great growth opportunity for your son or daughter to have an important conversation where they might be a bit anxious going into the call. It’s great practice for the uncomfortable situations that await them in their adult life.

Bottom line, a student should tell a college coach no as soon as they know they will not be attending that school.