College sports attract millions of fans each year and student athletes dedicate countless hours to perfecting their craft with dreams of playing at the highest level. However, the path to becoming a professional athlete is an incredibly narrow one. According to the NCAA, just 2.5% of high school athletes earn an NCAA scholarship and less than 2% make it to the professional leagues.
For student athletes chasing their dreams, scholarship opportunities can be elusive. This is where student athlete scholarship organizations claim to help by connecting athletes to colleges and universities offering athletic scholarships. But are these organizations really legit or just another scholarship scam?
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at student athlete scholarship organizations and determine if their promises of helping connect athletes to scholarships hold water or are just hype.
We’ll explore some of the major players in this industry, analyze their business models and services, and hear from experts on whether these organizations deliver real value or just want your money and information.
By the end, you’ll have a clear picture of whether student athlete scholarship organizations are legit scholarship opportunities or should be avoided.
How Do Student Athlete Scholarship Organizations Work?
At their core, student athlete scholarship organizations (also called student athlete recruiting services) exist to connect high-performing student athletes with colleges and universities offering athletic scholarships. Their typical business model involves:
- Athletes pay a fee (usually $200-$500) to create a profile on the organization’s website featuring their stats, highlights, and academic information.
- The organization advertises and markets the athlete’s profile to colleges across their database, claiming to have connections at thousands of schools.
- Colleges contact athletes directly if interested in recruiting them, ideally culminating in an athletic scholarship offer.
- The organization takes a cut of any scholarship money awarded through their connection with a college.
On the surface, this model makes sense – athletes gain exposure to more schools while organizations profit by finding athletes scholarships. But as with any business, the key questions are whether these organizations truly deliver value for their high fees or are just fronts designed to profit off hopeful student athletes.
Are Major Student Athlete Scholarship Organizations Legit?
NextGame and Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) are two of the largest and most well-known student athlete scholarship organizations. Let’s take a closer look at their offerings and reputation in the industry:
- Founded in 2013 and claims to have helped athletes earn over $300 million in scholarships
- Charges athletes $299-$499 to create a profile featured on their website and marketed to colleges
- Database includes over 850 colleges across all NCAA divisions they can connect athletes with
- Provides certificate programs, workshops, and annual camps alongside recruiting services
On the surface, NextGame has all the right elements – large database, competitive pricing, and supplemental programs. However, some critics argue:
- It’s unknown how many of the claimed $300 million in scholarships are directly from NextGame exposures vs athletes getting scholarships through traditional routes
- Colleges have no obligation to actually follow up on athlete profiles, so exposure isn’t guaranteed to turn into real recruiting opportunities
- Supplemental programs are likely more about upselling athletes than substantially improving their chances
Next College Student Athlete (NCSA)
- Founded in 2002 and the largest student athlete recruiting platform, serving over 500k student athletes
- More expensive fees of $599-799 to create an athlete profile on their site and database of 2,500+ colleges
- Supports athletes through the entire recruiting process with coaches, advisors, and recruiting tools
- Claims a 97% profile view rate by college coaches, but no data on conversion to actual recruitments
While NCSA has the most extensive network and long track record, some doubts include:
- High fees indicate a focus on revenue over delivering true value for athletes according to experts
- Similar issues to NextGame around lacking transparency on profile views turning into real opportunities
- Could be profiting more from keeping athletes hoping for exposure than costs of actual recruiting services
In summary, while NextGame and NCSA tout large networks, the real proof is unclear conversions to scholarship offers and success stories. Both prioritize revenue over transparency, raising questions if athletes are getting a fair deal or just funding operations through high profile development fees.
What Do Experts Say About Student Athlete Scholarship Organizations?
Those closely involved in high school and college athletics also express doubts about the true value of student athlete scholarship organizations:
- Claim being inundated with thousands of athlete profiles, making it impossible to follow up on more than a small fraction
- Rely more on evaluating athletes at camps and showcases where they can assess skills in person
- Worry some athletes are misled by promises of scholarships that likely won’t materialize
High School Coaches
- Rarely recommend scholarship organization services due to lack of transparency on real outcomes
- Emphasis developing players themselves and contacting colleges directly when an athlete is truly D1 caliber
- Concerned about organizations preying on athletes’ hopes rather than substantially aiding the recruitment process
- Call fees charged by organizations “exorbitant” for unproven benefits to athletes over traditional recruiting routes
- Doubt profiles garner meaningful interest from the sheer number posted on organization databases
- Advise focusing energy on showcases, camps, and making highlight videos to share directly with coaches
The consensus among those intricately involved in the process seems to be that while organizations claim to help, their true value is unclear when placement rates aren’t disclosed. The emphasis appears more on profiting from profile fees rather than substantially improving athletes’ chances at scholarships through authentic recruitment help.
Do Student Athlete Scholarship Organizations Deliver on Their Promises?
With doubts around the legitimacy of major student athlete scholarship organizations, the million dollar question remains – do they really help connect athletes to opportunities or is it all hype? While definitive data is limited, a close analysis suggests organizations fall short of their lofty claims:
Lack of Transparency on Placement Rates
- NextGame and NCSA do not publicly share percentage of athletes receiving interests, recruitments or scholarship offers from profile exposure
- Without disclosure, claims of helping athletes like “earning $300 million” sound like marketing not backed by hard proof
Questionable Value of Large College Databases
- Coaches agree following up on thousands of profiles is impossible, so real consideration is low despite database size claims
- Individualized attention is prioritized through camps, showcases where coaches can scout player performance live
Scarce Positive Testimonials From Athletes
- Online reviews are mixed with complaints of profiles generating no responses and high fees not yielding value
- Few public success stories found of profiles directly leading to scholarship opportunities or D1 recruitments
Alternative Recruiting Routes Have Proven Track Records
- Targeting select summer camps/showcases where coaches actively scout and make offers that day
- Developing highlight videos and contacting coaches directly when one shines through these traditional tryouts
While not conclusive, the lack of transparency on placement rates and preponderance of mixed athlete reviews suggests organizations fall far short of their promises. The indirect, passive profile marketing model seems less impactful than proven alternative recruiting methods. Until organizations disclose hard placement and scholarship data, their value proposition remains dubious compared to focusing energy elsewhere.
Alternatives to Student Athlete Scholarship Organizations
Based on expert opinion and lackluster accountability from major organizations, the alternatives below provide more direct routes for athletes to showcase skills and gain college consideration:
Target Specific Summer Camps and Showcases
- Events hosted by colleges where coaches actively scout and can make offers on the spot
- Research camps for your sport at target school levels (D1, D2, D3) to attend and stand out directly to coaches
Develop Quality Highlight Videos
- 2-5 minute compilations shared on recruitment platforms like Hudl showcasing top plays, skills and stats
- Allow coaches to quickly evaluate talent remotely before requesting further consideration
Contact Coaches Directly When You Shine
- After big games, tournaments or camp performances, connect with impressed coaches via phone/email
- Introduce yourself, provide stats/film and gauge interest in setting up an official recruitment visit
Leverage Free Alternatives Like Hudl
- Popular free platforms allow developing profiles showcasing abilities that coaches routinely search
- Provide same exposure benefits as paid services at no cost beyond initial video production
Network Through Personal Contacts
- Leverage coaches, trainers and former players’ potential college connections when a standout season occurs
- Individual advocacy and direct referrals may carry more weight than massive organization profiles
The tried and true methods of impressing in person at live events and contacting coaches directly when you shine have largely succeeded for the athletes signed over traditional routes each year. Questionable claims and lack of transparency signal alternatives like Hudl provide equal exposure without the high fees.
Should Student Athletes Use These Organizations?
After analyzing the business models, track record claims and alternatives, the most sensible conclusion is:
Student athlete scholarship organizations likely help a small subset of athletes each year but success stories appear anecdotal at best due to non-disclosure of placement rates.
The passive profile marketing approach of major organizations seems less impactful than proven methods athletes regularly use like summer camps, showcases, and contacting coaches directly with stats and footage in hand.
With fees ranging from $200-$800 but scant proof of consistent tangible benefits, organizations appear focused more on revenue than substantially improving an athletes’ recruiting and scholarship chances through individualized attention and services.
Alternatives like Hudl provide the same exposure benefits for free beyond initial video costs, while camps/showcases allow impressing coaches in person – two far more direct paths to evaluation pursued by thousands signing each year.
When success stories are anecdotal and placement rates not disclosed, athletes have no real clarity on how probable scholarships are from organization profiles versus traditions recruitment routes, raising transparency issues.
Therefore, for the vast majority of student athletes hoping to play at the next level, resources are likely better spent focusing on direct performance-based recruitment strategies over the questionable value proposition of paying high fees to student athlete scholarship organizations.
The alternative methods mentioned have proven ROI without uncertainties around opaque business models or mixed reviews from athletes. That said, these organizations may provide marginal exposure benefits for niche athletes in small sports or lower
Divisions without many camp opportunities in their area. But at elite levels and for blue-chip athletes, individual networking and advocacy combined with strong highlight reels and camp showings are the surest ways to garner real coach and scholarship consideration based on demonstrable talent over profile clicks alone.
Of course, multiple recruitment strategies can be utilized, so devoting limited funds to profile creation isn’t necessarily detrimental if supplementing direct performance-based recruitment efforts.
But counting solely on organizations’ marketing claims is shaky compared to controlling one’s own destiny through proven techniques many athletes use each year to land scholarships through their demonstrated skills and connection-building.
In the end, the evidence suggests student athlete scholarship organizations highlight an enticing value proposition but don’t substantiate significant scholarship placement rates to justify high fees over free or lower-cost alternatives.
For the vast majority of athletes, traditional recruitment methods centering on live performance remain most credible. While these organizations can supplement direct college recruiting, relying on them alone to deliver scholarship opportunities appears an iffy proposition.