Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reader Forum Part III
Athlete Retention

As the last post was on recruiting, I think that this subject is especially appropriate.This past season, Ferrum had several football players, who would have seen significant playing time, that choose not to return. While there may have been different reasons for their not returning, I expect that the economic slowdown may have affected this. My guess is that Ferrum is not the only school that had this problem. While it is legitimate to look to the poor economy as a culprit, this situation seems to happen somewhat regularly.

There are 47 Freshmen listed on the 2009 Ferrum roster. I decided that I would try to see if there is a trend over the years. I went to each conference schools football website, and looked to see if they kept a historical record of their football rosters. Of the eight schools, five of them kept a record. I was able to go back to 2007 rosters for four of the teams (Ferrum, Methodist, CNU, and Greensboro), and was able to pull the 2008 and '09 roster for Averett. My goal was to track the freshmen class on the oldest roster for the football team, and just see how their numbers changed in the following seasons. While this is not an exact science, it does show a trend that I think exists pretty much across the conference. Here is how the numbers broke down:

Ferrum College-

2007 Freshmen 49
2008 Sophomores 19
2009 Juniors 12

Methodist University

2007 Freshmen 49
2008 Sophomores 23
2009 Juniors 11

Greensboro College

2007 Freshmen 25
2008 Sophomores 13
2009 Juniors 16*

Christopher Newport University

2007 Freshmen 41
2008 Sophomores 25
2009 Juniors 25

Averett University

2008 Freshmen 35
2009 Sophomores 22

A couple of interesting things about these figures are that Greensboro gained three players between 2008 and 2009, and Christopher Newport maintained the same number between the Sophomore and Junior seasons. Beyond those two discrepancies, I think the trend is a significant loss of players as the years go on. Especially after their first season. Some reasons for this may be:

Inadequate playing time

Injury related vacancies

Academic ineligibility

Disciplinary reasons

The list could go on and on, but a consistent roster is a building block to success. The more consistent the roster, the more experienced the team, and the more competitive they will be. So the forum question is:

What steps can be taken either from a conference level, or by individual institutions to retain football players?


  1. I am curious as to how the experience compares for a player at a larger school like Va. Tech. I know that the availability of scholarships have a lot to do with it, but are there things that players get as a result of being on a football team at a larger school, that they will not get at a small Division 3 school? IE: Separate housing for the football team only? Tutoring? Also, are there Junior Varsity programs in D3? If playing time is a concern, this may help to alleviate this.

    Without scholarships, what is in place at a small college to help make it affordable?

  2. I do not know the answers to all of these points, but the re are programs at schools that help defray the cost. Work study programs for one. I would also imagine that most coaches are well aware of the academic progress, or lack there of regarding their players. I am sure there are tutoring programs available.

  3. Little late on this Allen but was setting around this morning and started going through your blog. Camp is only a few weeks away so maybe a good time to revisited this topic.
    My take is you can blame three things:
    1. Finances: Its getting harder and harder to pay these 30K tuitions at D3 schools. For an average student who is getting just the University grant, Tag ( if Va. resident) and using the work/study program they are staring down over 20K a year in tuition. Hard enough in a good economy but now close to impossible.

    2. Playing time: Its one thing to be dropping big bucks if you see the field on a regular basis, its another if you don't. Think a lot of these kids end up having to make the decision to hang up the cleats or go deep into debt with student loans. If you are not seeing significant playing time its a pretty easy choice, in my opinion.
    3. Academics: Think we have to be honest here. Many kids end up at the D3 private school simply because they couldn't get into state schools. They struggle from day one and have a very hard time making that transition from HS to College. Extremely hard as a parent to fork over that big tuition when your son is only doing so so academically. They could could go to a Community College there sophomore year for about 1/5th of a 4 year tuition, after all the idea is to get an education first, then play football. Not the other way around.

    Sorry so long winded, reoccurring theme here is money. Ultimately for one reason or another it comes down to dollars and cents.

    Big reason why CNU is able to stay up around the top year after year. Despite being loaded with talent you still see kids headed there knowing full well they will have to sit a year or two, maybe 3 before they get there shot. Lot easier to swallow when you are paying a state tuition vs a private one.

  4. Have to say I agree on the financial impact...It has to be very difficult for parents in this economy, and the philosophy of an education first is more true and important than ever.

    While I also see that CNU is loaded with talent, I have to wonder if the addition of football to ODU will impact the CNU recruiting efforts?

    Lots of competition out there to get athletes to commit to a certain school, but if you take the money out of the picture, and in a fantasy world if all was equal in the tuition dept., you still have to consider how conference schools stack up academically, and what athletic facilities and off campus amenities they have to offer. The Norton Center will help with this greatly, and I hope they are able to announce a groundbreaking soon.

    Thanks so much for following the blog, and for your comments.