Every year on the first Wednesday of February, colleges big and small fill with excitement and spirit. It’s a holiday of sorts, when excited sports fans begin to look toward next season.
This is National Signing Day, when athletes make an early agreement to attend a school of their choice — a day that UC Santa Cruz has never taken part in.
UCSC is alone in this practice, as it is the only UC with no early admission policy for athletes. Whereas other schools allow athletes to commit early and arrive at school before their freshmen peers, UCSC will not even submit early evaluations toward incoming athletes. Even if you’ve been recruited and have made a commitment to UCSC, you still have no idea whether you can actually attend the university.
It’s clear those who make admissions decisions value talent in our students. We should recognize talented people have special needs with regard to admission.
These students cannot wait to make these decisions when they are actively being recruited by other universities. Our athletes receive considerable attention from diverse schools like the University of Chicago, Harvard and UC San Diego. For UCSC to build winning programs with the best student athletes available, simply making these prospective students wait until the normal admission date greatly affects their ability and desire to join the Banana Slugs.
And worse, should these students elect to pass on a scholarship from another school to instead to plan on attending UCSC and not get in, their parents often have to pay to get their child on a new team, frantically searching for any junior college or college with an open roster spot for the next year. It’s simply unfair to the athletes and their parents. And it shouldn’t happen, as UCSC has already spent money to find these athletes.
Around 80 percent of Division III schools are small private schools. These schools have an average population of 2,500, with 20 to 60 percent of the student body playing one sport or another. It’s with these universities that our coaches compete for athletes. These small schools are allowed to admit students in November, or give out full-ride scholarships for their athletes, while UCSC continues to beat around the bush.
This only adds to each coach’s workload. By forcing our coaches to continue recruiting long after their peers, the university makes each coach put in additional working hours, which could be spent winning games and making progress with their players.
Though many administrators believe an early admissions policy will begin a flood of proposals to give other groups the same consideration, it’s worth noting that many other universities already successfully employ this policy.
It’s simple for UCSC to issue early reports to athletes. With a basic early evaluation, we can keep athletes our coaches recruit, and reassure their parents. Many schools, even Division III, have one person on staff dedicated solely to athlete admissions. UCSC seems to be behind the trend.
UCSC’s move towards a holistic review admissions policy will be positive in assessing context in which a student succeeds. But this move is not enough for our athletes. The faculty needs to be amenable to proposals regarding early evaluations of athletes.
Many of our athletes feel UCSC is not a sports school, but our athletes continue to perform excellently. If we intend to continue our recent run of NCAA success, then we must become like every other Division III school or UC. Let’s have National Signing Day next year at UCSC.