Dear Coach Bryant,

I never imagined my daughter’s college application season might occur during a pandemic. She is supposed to sign November 11 to play college field hockey, but we have no idea whether to sign – or where she should go to play her beloved sport.

It seems like there are so many different decisions being made by different schools about this season. We’re not sure what to think. Will next fall be different, or will Covid-19 change these programs permanently? What should we do between now and signing day?


Confused by Covid 

Dear Confused,

Watch and learn. That’s what I’m doing this season, and that’s what I advise high school student-athletes and their parents to do this fall. The pandemic-related decisions being made by college administrators can tell students and parents a lot about each school’s core values. Since the NCAA has cancelled or postponed all fall athletics at an association level, schools/conferences can choose how they plan to use the fall with their student athletes. That’s why smart seniors are not only watching how their target schools are responding to the crisis, but learning whether their target schools seem to place a high value on student-athletes.

Smart seniors are not only watching how their target schools are responding to the crisis, but learning whether their target schools seem to place a high value on student-athletes.

Here’s what I’m watching now:

  • Some schools cutting non-revenue sports, resulting in student-athletes studying where they can no longer play their sport.
  • Other schools seeking a holistic approach to supporting all sports, regardless of revenues.
  • Some administrators seeking to lower legal liabilities by prohibiting coach-athlete interactions, resulting in students self-training in uncontrolled venues.
  • Other administrators seeking responsible ways to provide both academic and sport instruction.
  • Some schools making no changes to their athletic programs, ignoring all health concerns.
  • Other schools adjusting their athletic programs in ways designed to protect students’ mental and physical health.

How do the administrative decisions being made this fall help high school student-athletes choose their future schools? The way college administrators make decisions tells a lot about campus culture and priorities. Decision processes, as well as final outcomes, can help a student-athlete learn whether their target school is the right school for them.

Decision processes, as well as final outcomes, can help a student-athlete learn whether their target school is the right school for them.

The Reality

I’m the first to admit that it’s complicated. There are a lot of nuanced components to consider in any college decision, and it’s impossible to predict what might come next during this pandemic. That’s just one reason why so many parents of high school student-athletes are seeking my help this fall. 


Coach Bryant