COVID-19 severely disrupted all aspects of college life but none more so than college sports.
In this episode of College Tips, Crimson Education Strategist and former Harvard lacrosse player, Bryan Moore, discusses the future of college sports as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift and how students can build their candidacy away from the training track.
Podcast Host 00:17
Hello, and welcome to College Tips. In today's episode, Harvard graduate and Crimson Education strategist Bryan Moore, talks about us sports scholarships, we chat about the impact of COVID-19 on college sports, what prospective student athletes can do to improve their candidacy, and how academic performance can be more important than many students need. Let's chat with Bryan Moore. Hi, Bryan. Welcome to College Tips. It's fantastic to have you on today. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?
Bryan Moore 00:46
Yeah. Great to see you, Alex. So I went to Harvard and played on the lacrosse team. And while I was there, I was studying economics and psychology. So excited to talk a little bit about sports today.
Podcast Host 00:59
Yeah, absolutely. And since then, you've been doing a fair bit of stuff at crimson. What's your current role at Crimson?
Bryan Moore 01:04
Yeah, so I am a senior strategist and Strategy Team Lead. So I manage a team of traders that work with a lot of students, particularly based in China.
Podcast Host 01:14
Fantastic, and you even lived a little while there. And now you're based in the US again, and you've survived COVID, which is great to say. And we can talk about sports, because I know that some sports have not survived COVID, what has been the state of play or not play as the case may be for sports scholarships and sports in general? In the US post COVID.
Bryan Moore 01:37
Yeah, it has been pretty chaotic for a lot of student athletes and schools as well, a lot of teams getting canceled or having their team shut down. Obviously, you know, the debates about whether or not it's safe to play has been both an issue within schools and also in sort of the political sphere. You know, we've seen, you know, sports, like the NFL successfully have a full season, but you know, with a lot of risk to the to the player. So it's been challenging on a lot of dimensions so far in the past year.
Podcast Host 02:04
And is there any sports in particular, or any schools in particular, whether it be the East Coast, West Coast, north south of the US that have been more affected than others?
Bryan Moore 02:15
Yeah, so since COVID, obviously affected all parts of the US, I don't think there was a region that avoided anything. But we've saw, we saw mostly, you know, teams struggle to have seasons, and a lot of the sports that don't generate much or any revenue for school. So sports like tennis, golf, some soccer teams, and cross country and track have been particularly hit. But it has affected a lot of teams. And depending on the leagues that schools are playing, and we've seen some leagues choose to have seasons, and others choose to not do that. So it's been very fragmented throughout the last year.
Podcast Host 02:51
Does it affect students who are already at college in terms of like their future at the at the college? Or they because they've got in for previous years or whatever? Like they're set no matter what? or could they potentially have their scholarship funding cut, because their team has been cut?
Bryan Moore 03:08
Absolutely. So if your team is cut, or if you are cut from the team, in normal circumstances, you can lose your scholarship, if you if you're lucky enough to have one. So that is that that's definitely been a big source of concern for a lot of student athletes over this past year.
Podcast Host 03:24
So what was the prospects of student athletes during this admission round? Was it notably different in terms of like, harder to get into a lot of places, but it was more competitive?
Bryan Moore 03:36
I think we didn't necessarily see a ton of change in how competitive it was. Mostly because of how much uncertainty there was, throughout this whole last year, people didn't know what to expect. So most schools and most coaches sort of approached the process in a similar way. And then, but once we got to the actual application process and final decisions, it was it was definitely quite challenging for for a lot of students. You know, I had a student who was interested in going to a school and they cut that team, he was a rower from Australia. And so that was, you know, pretty disruptive. But, you know, I also had some success as well, with some of my athletes pursuing even the same sport even within rowing. You know, we saw some success. So I think the uncertainty was the was the hardest part for both for schools for players and for coaches over the past year.
Podcast Host 04:24
And is there any sport that is like, above the cuts, I guess, you said, your revenue generating ones made basketball and football, they're like safe no matter what pretty much, is that correct?
Bryan Moore 04:36
Yeah, it's interesting, you know, definitely they have been spared. And they've been the sports that have had the most games I think across you know, all divisions and all different conferences that have basketball and football. What's particularly interesting is that, you know, within American football in particular, a lot of these teams lose money. So even though they may generate revenue, they're considered a revenue sport. They still lose money for the school. And what I, what I find interesting about that is just the level to which these schools are feeling the need to invest in a robust athletic department to attract students to come, even non athletes to come to the school to have a more exciting or interesting campus atmosphere. So the effects of how sports teams can really change the whole environment for a school, it's clear that sports aren't going anywhere, even sports that may lose money, which is, I think, interesting thinking in the long term.
Podcast Host 05:30
I've heard though, that Dartmouth is a rather unusual case, what exactly happened to Dartmouth to the sporting teams?
Bryan Moore 05:37
So a quick story is that the school had decided that they were going to cut several teams using the excuse that because of COVID, there were budget shortfalls and that they needed to manage that budget. For a school like Dartmouth, you know, budget considerations usually aren't a problem. There's plenty of endowment, they can always find donors to pay for sports teams. So in the very beginning, you know, that wasn't, didn't seem to be the case, or the thing, the main decision that was driving and over time, it began to come out that there's been a lot of pressure, particularly at the most academic schools, places like Dartmouth to find a new center for the balance between academics and sports at schools. And so I think that a number of people used COVID, as an opportunity to rebalance that equation in the favor of the academics and the voices of academics at Dartmouth. And so when the shuffles sort of played out, we've seen those teams get reinstated, which has been very disruptive, that disruption has been, I think, epitomizes this past year in terms of the level of uncertainty and how decisions can be made, but then quickly turned around. But hopefully things will settle down there and get back to normal soon.
Podcast Host 06:48
Right. Right. Okay, fair enough. And also, I want to know about the divisions and how they were affected, whether you know, your div one schools, were still very committed to going with the sporting teams and whatnot. But you div three, etc, perhaps, as you said, with the case of Dartmouth kind of saw that balance between academics and sport and was like this is a chance to kind of push things more to the academic side of things. So is there any difference in the divisions for universities and how they've been kind of coping with this and changing the arrangement of the sport?
Bryan Moore 07:19
Sure, so one of the key differences between division one, Division Two and Division Three is that division one and two have scholarships or can offer scholarships, if they choose to do so, whereas Division Three is not able to do so. So that changes the budget pretty considerably for the different schools, what we've seen generally is essentially within division three schools a pause, so we're not going to make any decisions, we're not going to hire new coaches, we're not going to make too many new commitments to new athletes. And at the same time, we saw quite a lot of students taking gap years, so taking time away from school, to either work or just not study during an online learning environment. And so I think we sort of saw a freeze on most activity within division three. And so as COVID is lifted, you know, things will start to heat up. And so I think that that pause has not necessarily been reflected in other sports in another divisions where things are a bit more competitive, and the focus on winning is, is a lot higher. So a division three school can generally get away in most cases with skipping a recruitment class, or not bringing in the top athletic talent, because, you know, that's just not their number one priority. Whereas, you know, I think that within certain within money sports, and within most of division one, I think there's still been the continued pressure to find the athletes to bring into the school. But that still is been full of uncertainty this whole this whole time. And I think what we'll see is rosters that are pretty full, and perhaps over the next couple of years, you know, some cut back in terms of the number of scholarships available for certain sports in particular, as schools try to manage their budgets and, and manage the size of the team since that there are caps on those.
Podcast Host 09:10
Yeah, I was going to ask the kind of crystal ball question, what do you see happening in the future? And, as I guess, COVID restrictions start to slowly lift across the US whether teams would ever get back to that full kind of like, what's crazy college campus type of vibe that, you know, when over here in Australia, when I look at the US and colleges, I think like sport crazy for a lot of them, which is, which is awesome. But do you think we'll ever get back to that kind of level?
Bryan Moore 09:37
You know, it's hard to even imagine, you know, getting a crowd of 1000s of people and screaming very loudly, you know, right now, but I do think that, you know, in the long term, we're going to get back to some sense of normalcy, and we'll have pretty close to what we've experienced in the past. I think in terms of the long term changes, I don't think things will stay the same, but I think Those issues are more around collective bargaining energy that's existed in past years anti trust considerations against the NCAA, some of the rules have been changes around amateurism that happened in the last year in allowing players to actually make money off of their name. I think some of those changes are likely to accelerate that we've seen in you know, in other areas of other industries and other parts of the world where COVID is sort of accelerated movement that we've seen, I think those things are likely to happen. And so that may have some changes to how sports exists in the United States. But I don't think that we'll be missing out on you know, the the rowdy games that that we've all come to love.
Podcast Host 10:39
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'm also interested in the impacts of the LSAT, the dropping of required exams, essentially, for students across the board. Is that still applying to athletes? Do they not have to sit the SAT anymore as well?
Bryan Moore 10:54
Yeah, so that was actually quite interesting. We did see, you know, a lot of requirements be lifted for for a lot of schools across the US. Of course, there were some exceptions to that. And we are expecting that this year, we will continue to see some version of reduced requirements for testing. What was interesting, though, was schools that particularly care a lot about academic so schools within the Ivy's in particular, we did see requirements around testing, despite the fact that you didn't have an admissions requirement to to have an SAE score, for example, in order to be recruitable athlete you did. So in actually some cases, it was pretty much the same, and that they expected a lot of athletes to have already taken those tests. And that makes some sense, because within the Ivy's, you have to beat certain academic requirements in order to be a recruitable athlete. And the department as a whole needs to have on a relative basis compared to the other students in the school have to be within a certain band. And so in order to meet those Ivy League requirements, they did keep testing. So we'll see, I think how they're able to deal with, I think, a broad momentum towards fewer testing requirements. But I would expect to see that persist in the short and probably in the medium term as well.
Podcast Host 12:12
Right? So basically, across the board, no matter which University you're applying to, if you're an athlete, you still have to sit some form of SAT, is that correct?
Bryan Moore 12:20
I would say yes, I think that there will be certain there will certainly be exceptions to that. But but it helps to expand your opportunities, if you're able to get a really good test score, something that, you know, sticks out, that's definitely an advantage. In addition to that sports scholarships make up, you know, obviously, that's the thing that gets all the attention. But many athletes get a considerable amount of their your scholarship money actually based on their academic scholarship. So you can have both an athletic and an academic scholarship. In many cases, the academic scholarships actually worth more than your athletic scholarship. So having really strong test scores, having really strong grades in your school, these will be things that will make you both more recruitable for all schools, and will also give you the opportunity to have more money is one more thing on on having access to that academic money is that makes you much more attractive to coaches, even for schools that are not in a top 50. You know, US News and World Report rankings. The reason for this is, it's much easier for coaches to get access to that academic money, because that's not coming out of a preset amount of cash that they have available to them. Right. So you know, if you're able to get access to some of that academic money, that can free up additional sports specific money that the coach can then give to somebody else. So makes you a very attractive recruit if you're able to bring both the sport and the academic side?
Podcast Host 13:44
Yeah, well, I was going to ask in the situation of say, like a year 10 student here in Australia, like 1516 years old, who is a gifted athlete at say, a couple of different sports, there was always one of those kids in any school, right? You know, like those man child's that kind of developed early and whatnot. I mean, I got to 167 centimeters and stuff growing for people in the US that's basically not very tall. And so for the students in that situation, who are saying, yep, you know, a US college, I want that to be my future. How could they strengthen their candidacy over the final years of their high school? Should they be focusing more on the academics? Should they be focusing more on a particular sport that is perhaps recruitable at a higher percentage rate? Like? Should they focus on other extracurriculars that are related to their sport, but might be more community focused, for instance, like what can athletes in that kind of 15 to 16 age bracket, who haven't yet got a letter from a university? Because I know some universities do reach out quite early these days, but who haven't heard from university yet? What could they be doing to kind of tailor their application in those last couple of years ago?
Bryan Moore 14:53
Sure. So I think to generalize things first and then and then I guess we can talk in the specifics, but No, I think the first thing to understand or to ask yourself, if you're a student, or something that I might ask you, if I were to talk to you as a student, is, what is it really that you're looking for? For me when I was in high school, I had this vision for having this even split between academics and athletics. And I wanted to really maximize both of those things at the same time. And so that gave me a very clear sense and gave me some specific universities to target, you know, my first list of schools that I was interested in, you know, it was like, 35 schools long. So I had a very clear sense of exactly what I was looking to do in 35, schools is quite a bit, but it gave me some place to start. So I think asking yourself, you know, what are those priorities for you, since those will be different, some students really care about the athletic experience, and that's the only reason that they want to go, maybe they want to go pro in their sport, or something like that. Other students, you know, they want to leverage their athletic talent to get into a really good school, that's quite different. Some students are a bit more in between. So understanding that question, I think is, is quite important. And then you can essentially apply that same logic to other areas of your life. You know, while even though I was an athlete and went the recruitment route myself, you know, there were plenty of other things that I was very heavily involved in, a lot of the things that I loved, the most were sport related, I was coaching, I was mentoring and doing a variety of different things within my sport. But you know, I had access to that I had the right network of people around me to get access to those kinds of opportunities to involve myself different ways. So I'd be thinking about opportunities like that. So you know, we shouldn't be thinking, Okay, well, the only thing I need to do is play my sport, you know, we do need to have some breadth and some variety, an easy place to start is, who are the people that I know? What are the other opportunities within my sport, that aren't necessarily playing, that I could get involved in? And that can start to open up new opportunities and new interests of yours as well.
Podcast Host 16:59
Right, fantastic. And then, of course, the academic side of things like you should still kind of study for that SAT, right?
Bryan Moore 17:05
Absolutely. There's really nothing better for coaches than to know right off the bat, that they're not going to have any challenge with admissions with you and your candidacy. If you can take that off their mind and have them feel very confident that you are going to be a really good fit for them, then that's a huge sigh of relief that they can feel doesn't really matter what level you're targeting. If you're targeting the very most academic schools, it's just as important to give coaches that comfort that you will be able to handle the academics of whatever school you're targeting. Otherwise, they're not going to waste waste their time. There's too many other great hardworking athletes out there that want that spot, too. And so they need to prioritize. And if you've got the academics, it makes it that much easier on them.
Podcast Host 17:46
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'm interested also, in your role a little bit more specifically, in terms of helping prospective student athletes, what kind of problems or pain points are you typically solving throughout the recruitment process, and even you know, slightly before that, for students who are aiming to go to the US?
Bryan Moore 18:03
Sure. So I guess I've seen a variety of different cases from students who, you know, have just picked up a new sport and are just beginning to realize that they really love it. And deciding through that whole process that they do want to go for, go to be recruited. One of my students this past year was that case, he became a rower, had never done that before. And just this past year, was admitted into Columbia, which was an amazing result for him, and so was able to, you know, hit all of his his goals for both his burgeoning love of his sport and also his academic passions. So I think, you know, I've seen those kinds of cases. And I've seen students who are very late in the process, who don't understand how to navigate it, but you know, that they want to, you know, that they have this goal of playing sports at a higher level. So I think it really, there's, there's quite a lot of variety. Generally speaking, a lot of my students have been based outside of the United States. So the challenges that they tend to face are having to do with you know, the physical distance, the fact that a lot of coaches aren't able to watch them in person play. That's that's a big challenge. And then I think just the the communication and with how I communicate, and when do I communicate, I think are big challenges for students. It can be really intimidating talking to these people who you perhaps idolize or, or want to have them respect you and think that you are valuable to them. That can be pretty challenging, regardless of whether you're in the States or abroad. I think navigating those those uncertainties and identifying what schools I should be targeting in my recruitment process those I guess the big questions that I tend to see a lot.
Podcast Host 19:40
Yeah, because it is really weird for student athletes, I guess because they are the as I understand it, the only people through the college admissions process who pretty much directly communicating with the gatekeeper on the other side, right that if they're in communication with the coach, and the coach is either going to give them a yay or nay like that can be the gate. able to then get into college and even to get a scholarship or not. Whereas the majority of students are doing majority of their communication through their personal statement or their essay. That must be a very, very delicate process when you are picking when and what to say to any number of coaches. And I know that I think I heard that Tessa, who's one of the other sports strategists at crimson, she said, like, never tell someone, like do a coach, because it just shows that you've probably templated an email and you're spamming it out to a whole lot of people if you're not personalizing it. Is it that kind of nitpicky, generally speaking?
Bryan Moore 20:34
Absolutely. The coach that I eventually played for his last name was logik. And so that was always a really tough one to try to spell. And I had to double check it three or four times, because that was that was always scary to send those emails. But yeah, absolutely. You know, particularly when you're, you know, let's say, your 10th grade dine, you know, students, you've never really sent emails or serious emails before to people, you know, that can be pretty intimidating. And so knowing whether I'm saying the right thing, if I'm saying enough, if I'm saying too much, I think that's always a concern. Generally speaking, most of my students don't say enough. And so you know, we have to encourage them to communicate more proactively, and communicate more than just, you know, sports related updates, as coaches want to see whole people, people that will bring, you know, a lot of different dimensions to the team on a both an athletic and also a personality basis, having a interesting group of teammates is a recruiting tool for coaches. So you know, if you can have more interesting, more thoughtful, more, better athletes on your team that's gonna make you a more attractive for future students to come to as well. So being the full picture of the full student in this process is, is important. And finding ways to communicate that whether it's via zoom or you know, via email can be pretty challenging.
Podcast Host 21:51
And I also have the question of when students should start this process, because I know that that's often bandied around, and parents are like, my child is only like, 1415. They love their sport, but we're not quite sure whether they're going to continue with it in the next couple of years as academics start ramping up at school. What are your general views on like the age to start thinking about or not just thinking about but possibly taking action into the college recruitment process?
Bryan Moore 22:17
Sure. So I grew up around a lot of people who were thinking about this, my high school was known for having a lot of student athletes going to phenomenal schools, you know, I have friends who are in the NFL. So pretty, pretty strong school, and a lot of people around me wanted to go through this process. So I was lucky in the sense that I had, I had that awareness around me. And I think that that's probably what's lacking most or why people start too late, is that they lack the awareness of what the process might look like. And so the people around them aren't thinking about it aren't talking about it, they therefore think Well, okay, I guess I don't have to think about it either. So I would definitely say that it tends to be the case that people start too late. Obviously, you know, there's definitely opportunities to start too early, right? When you're, you know, still in elementary school, that's too early to be, you know, focusing on this. But now, once you, I think, are taking ownership of your own athletic development, you know, you're the one that's you know, going to the gym, you're getting the extra reps in practice, you're the one who really wants that. And you've decided that you're going to put that level of effort in, I think, at that point, you can be thinking about college for me what that Mark was around eighth grade or a year nine. So that's when I realized, and that's actually when I made my first school list was around that time to to know that I had some goals, and I wanted to start working towards them from there, then it's just surrounding yourself with great people, great coaches, and a plan to eventually get seen, but that stuff takes time. So it's good to start early, I think certainly earlier than most people think.
Podcast Host 23:48
Yeah, exactly. And I think for parents as well, like it's a, it's a bit of a challenge, because that the you Well, I don't want to burden my child with more pressure. But really, like if you leave it too late, that's when the pressure really starts kicking in. Like, if you're going to have any kind of chance of doing this, you need to kind of spread that pressure over as many years as possible. And as you said, you know, put that plan in place as early as possible. Is there any final advice that you would give to students and or parents who are prospective student athletes? Who are, you know, perhaps kind of thinking, Oh, you know, is the US ever going to be the same for college sports, these kinds of things? What advice would you give them as they move forward to next couple of years and hopefully aiming for that college recruitment?
Bryan Moore 24:29
Sure. So I think I think in over the last year with with COVID, I've heard both from athletes and non athletes, this sort of sense that I can't do anything or there's nothing I can do about the fact that I can't go outside or there are opportunities that otherwise were there for me. I think that that's obviously both, you know, it's both true and in some ways, but it also is, I think, it also opens up the opportunity to be that person who solves that problem and to be the person that you know, is able to find a creative way to To pursue whatever their goals are, whether that's athletic or otherwise. And so thinking about getting creative about solving, you know, that challenge, whatever it is for you that, that you're sort of most frustrated by or that you feel like that you can't solve, that's the one that, that you should focus on trying to address in your life, because that's going to be the one that is going to give you the most bang for your buck in terms of that effort that you'll put in. So, you know, if you if you are an athlete listening to this, and that means that, you know, all of those traits that you're learning in practice, you know, how to be a leader, you know, how to persevere through, you know, pain are tough challenges, you know, apply those skills or, you know, in other areas, right, if there's some initiative going on at your school that that you're interested in, but you know, otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to take part in because that's what you normally have practice, now's the time to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities. And so you know, if you can lean forward through this, as difficult as it is, you know, obviously, it is very challenging. But if you can find a way to push through that you're going to be much further along than the most of your peers will be. And you'll build that lead and be in a great position to take advantage of whatever goals are in front of you, whether that's the admissions process or some other challenge that you want to tackle.
Podcast Host 26:17
Perfect. Well, Bryan, it's been awesome chatting all about sports, I always learn a thing or two chatting with our lovely strategists from all around the world. And you are no exception to that rule for students or parents who will listen to this, there will be a link in the show notes if you'd like to work with someone like Bryan, on an application to the US or the UK or wherever you have in mind. But obviously, if you're aiming for sports, you're probably better off aim for the US. But Bryan, it's been awesome chatting and enjoy the rest of your day there in the US.
Bryan Moore 26:44
Great to see you Alex. Thanks for having me on.
Podcast Host 26:46
Thanks for listening to top of the class. subscribe for future episodes for show notes and to plan your best future head to Crimsoneducation.org