COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The final whistle for spring sports in South Carolina sounded earlier than most hoped because of COVID-19. Looking ahead, the high school sports calendar, like the academic one, remains uncertain.
“Thinking back, if football season would have gone the way it did for spring sports, how tough it would have been for us,” Gray Collegiate head football coach Adam Holmes said.
Some area high school coaches believe a pause in athletics does impact kids hopeful of receiving college scholarships to play sports at the next level. No access to the proving grounds for spring football practices, like here at Spring Valley, or summer camps around the nation, eliminates valuable workouts in front of college coaches.
“The middle of road kids, which are probably 80% of your kids, it’s going to be detrimental to them,” Fairfield Central head football coach Demetrius Davis said. “They’re going to have to work ten times harder.”
"College coaches want kids at camps," added Spring Valley head football coach Robin Bacon. "They want to be able to see them and evaluate them and see what kind of work ethic they got."
"Our spring practice last year, we had 112 coaches that came through Spring Valley," Bacon continued. "Many were on the field watching spring practice. You've taken that out of the equation."
Despite the suspension of off-campus recruiting activities for colleges due to the COVID-19 crisis, South Carolina State and Newberry College, still seek to offer scholarship opportunities.
"Our coaches are still reviewing HUDL tapes and plan to use all the scholarship dollars in their budget," South Carolina State Athletics Director Stacy Danley said.
"Good time to be recruiting kids," Newberry College Athletics Director Ralph Patterson added. "Because a lot them don't have a place to go. We'd love for that place to be Newberry."
These two in-state schools are not alone in this recruiting effort.
“College coaches are doing a good job of reaching out, trying to get the best evaluation that they can,” Holmes reiterated.
Athletic performance makes up part of the scholarship offer equation—grades and test scores matter more for increased financial support from many NCAA Division I and Division II programs.
“If you look at division one non-scholarship schools... and the value they put into athletes comes from academics,” Bacon said.
Coach Bacon of Spring Valley adds the higher the SAT and ACT score can result in thousands of dollars in additional financial aid for a student-athlete. So, fewer opportunities to improve a standardized test score could lessen scholarship value.
"That's a huge hit on a lot of families," Bacon said. "Not having the SATs and ACTs is going to hurt those kids that are good students."
"I know if I weren't on scholarship or didn't have the opportunity to get financial aid, it would have been difficult for me to go to college," Holmes added.
Both S.C. State and Newberry intend to support the student-athlete financially.
"Be prepared to perform under whatever the reality turns out to be," Danley said. "From an athletic standpoint, scholarships are not something we look to cut."
"We're going to do everything we can do to benefit our students and student-athletes to come to Newberry," Patterson emphasized. "That's our job. We embrace that."
The NCAA waived standardized test scores to fulfill eligibility terms ahead of the upcoming academic year. Incoming students still must meet a specific GPA requirement.
Coach Bacon adds an excellent resource for parents on scholarship opportunities is the NCAA Eligibility Center.