By CARLOS OLIVARES & DENNIS ERTURK
Intercollegiate coaches will usually recruit year-round, but unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all on and off-campus in-person recruiting is canceled. However, according to the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), “this does not prohibit written or virtual communication following National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recruitment guidelines with prospective student-athletes during this time period.”
Coaches are now engaging in unique methods to recruit new athletes and to stay in touch with recruits that have fully committed to Cal Poly Pomona.
Since coaches are unable to observe their new talents in person, they’re arranging conference and video calls to get to know new recruits and offer them an opportunity to attend and play for the university.
Head track and field coach Chris Bradford was in Birmingham, Alabama, for the NCAA Indoor Championships but had to fly back home when he received notice that all NCAA tournaments were canceled due to the spread of the virus. He had been recruiting throughout the year and is now trying to get used to the new recruiting process.
“Before this even started, we had six to 10 kids who had already committed to the school and signed,” Bradford said. “The high school season was two weeks into their season, so this obviously changes a lot in that full process.”
Bradford identified many prospects for next year, yet he won’t be able to watch them compete and analyze how they perform and improve throughout the year.
Although this is a major issue, Bradford tries to make the transition positive by now having more time to make calls and interview many more prospects.
Head baseball coach Randy Betten was also fortunate enough to recruit early in the year and is focusing on the roster for next year.
The recruiting process is still active, so he is searching throughout programs, high schools and junior colleges to see which prospects fit best for CPP.
“We had signed four guys in the fall, so we kind of had a good jump start on the recruiting side of things,” Betten said. “Now, we’re trying to go through which guys are going to get their year back, want to return or are going to try to return. We’re day-to-day on recruiting and figuring out what guys are going to do and which guys are going to move on. We’re still actively trying to use our contacts and our phones as best as possible to see what’s out there still.”
The effects of COVID-19 have not only transformed the athletic seasons for CPP spring sports, but have negatively affected the school’s athletic department as well.
“Our assistant athletic director for compliance and internal affairs is working with our coaches in preparing their scholarship budgets and preparing national letters of intent for new recruits,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Brian Swanson said. “We have tried to keep a normal schedule and, to the best way possible, continue functioning very much like we do. However, we miss the interaction with students and our department coaches and staff. We miss the athletic competitions as well.”
Swanson said the athletics department is also in contact with school boosters, donors and friends of the CPP sports program regarding specific programs and projects that were discussed prior to social distancing becoming common practice.
“Like us, our donors and boosters have an active lifestyle with many interests; however, most of those outdoor activities have been reduced or eliminated and they have more time at home,” Swanson said. “Many of our donors and alumni follow the outcomes and success of our teams during the year, so I don’t have as much interaction with them since we are no longer engaged in any outside competition or are streaming any of our games.”
It’s been a difficult time, to say the least, for student athletes, coaches and their recruitment processes, as well as for the athletic department at CPP.
All who are involved with CPP athletics continue to be optimistic that the issues caused by COVID-19 will be resolved in the near future.
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