Fraternity Recruitment: Lessons from National Signing Day

Last week was National Signing Day for college football programs around the country. I, being a huge college football fan, was not merely interested in “star ratings” or “class ranking,” but in what the coach thought of his incoming freshman class. For full disclosure I am a Michigan fan and these comments come from Rich Rodriguez’s press conference.

In his press conference it was hard not to draw parallels between his recruiting process and ours. He talked about negative recruiting and how other schools do it, but he doesn’t. Apparently high school players and their families are actually turned off by negative recruitment. At the end of the day, all the student has heard is “Michigan this…” and “Michigan that…” not why the recruiter’s school is a good fit. How do you view negative recruiting? Is it a practice that helps or hurts our chapters?

Rich talked about the importance of building relationships with the students during the recruitment process.  Rich is not out there doing all of the recruiting himself; and neither should our recruitment chairmen. The entire staff is out there getting to know the players and their families and then talking to them about Michigan and why it is a good fit for them.  Is your entire chapter involved in recruitment? Are you building relationships with PNMs?

As hard as it might seem there was also a discussion about encouraging players to explore their options. Rich wants student-athletes who are excited to be at Michigan and know it is the place for them. It is hard to do that if they haven’t looked anywhere else. The staff encourages guys to look at other schools. Do you encourage guys to look at other chapters to make sure they have made the right choice? Why or Why not?

The last thing Rich said was something I had never thought of, but was a great point to make: “We’re not really selling. Sometimes recruiting does look like salesmanship, but I heard one time you’re not selling anything you are just giving people what they want. Maybe I sound like a salesman telling you that, but really when you are putting your school and your program out there, you’re just giving people what they want and what you think they want is a chance to play in a great atmosphere for big time football and get a great education and be around good people.”

Are we trying to sell people? Or are we providing an opportunity for great guys to get exactly what they are looking for? In the fraternal world we are a “big time program”; through our scholarship programming we should help them succeed academically and our chapter home should have a great atmosphere filled with good people. However, we have more to offer than that. Football teams don’t have core values or the LEAD program and they aren’t partnered with Habitat for Humanity, St. Jude’s or Character Counts! Are we mentioning all of this during recruitment? Are we giving guys what they want? When we offer these things we get guys who are drawn to these ideals, those are the guys who might not be “starters” or “national champions” today.  But a few years from now when we learn what the class is really made of, they will be our “starters” (officers) and might have laid the foundation for us to be “national champions” (Rock Chapters).

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