Friday, 25 November 2011

University student-athlete recruiting in Canada

When you hear about athletes being recruited for colleges and universities, the first thing that generally comes to mind is high school basketball or football players in the US being recruited by large NCAA schools with an eye toward winning national championships. The whole process is tightly regimented and bound with complicated rules.

In Canada, things are a little bit different.

Well, more than a little bit really.

This first article in a series about the transition from high school to university athletics will introduce the basics of how the CIS recruiting system works.

Of course, there are still rules that must be adhered to, but things are not as complex as south of the border. The main rules in Canada for Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) recruiting of people not already at post-secondary institutions can be summed up as follows:
  1. Prospective students can contact any CIS institution,
  2. Anyone from a CIS institution can contact a student,
  3. A prospective student cannot practise with a team during their competitive season, but may practice with a team during the off-season, and
  4. A prospective student can only have one funded visit (in part or whole) per academic year to a CIS campus, but may have unlimited unfunded visits, and there is no limit to the number of schools that may be visited.

So, what does this mean to someone who wants to attend University as a student-athlete? Well, unless you’re willing to take a chance at trying to be a walk-on in a pre-season training camp (and that happens less often than one might think), then the key is to be proactive.

The luxuries of the NCAA ranking systems, regular showcase tournaments, and events do not exist for Canadian university coaches. As such, someone who wants to become a student-athlete has to make the effort to contact the athletics programs of schools that they are interested in attending, talk to coaches, and attend showcase tournaments. One large benefit of being in the Canadian system is that a student does not need to commit to a school until late in their final year of high school. Of course, it is best to have an idea of what schools are of interest before that time.

Because recruiting budgets for soccer programs at most CIS schools are not exactly large many coaches rely on contact from club coaches, school alumni, and the potential students themselves. As such, many student-athletes come to the attention of university coaches through unofficial scouting networks or from the students contacting them directly.

As a student deciding on a post-secondary school, it is vital to have a good understanding as to what that school can offer. A decision on a school to attend as a student-athlete should never be made solely on the athletic program offered, but must also take into account the academic program offered. After all, compared to the NCAA system, very few players in the CIS system will be given the opportunity to become professional athletes and, unfortunately, relying on this hope rather than on academic achievements is rarely a good idea.

The final decision on a school should thus be a combination of what their academic and athletic programs are and can offer. Most CIS schools have information about recruiting on their athletics websites and these informational pages will talk about some of the benefits the school can offer including their facilities and academic assistance. This information should give potential students a good baseline to work from in making a decision.

Look for the second article in this series soon.


  1. Look forward to the next installment!

  2. great stuff! Will more be coming?

  3. Yes -- I've just been a bit busy with "real life", but I'm aiming for part two this weekend.