St. Cloud State will adopt a new NCAA Division I rule, allowing it to give hockey players the entire cost of attendance included in their scholarships.
The recruiting process is something that has evolved dramatically throughout the years. For one, the use of digital media has become more and more prominent. Coaches are now using YouTube videos and other internet platforms, in addition to traditional home visits, to watch the recruit in action.
A strong argument can be made that St. Cloud State may miss out on key recruits if they do not pass this policy. All Big Ten schools have committed to the policy, as well as the majority of NCHC schools. Heather Weems, the athletic director for St. Cloud State, explained how this policy isn’t necessarily the deciding factor for recruits, but it does allow for the program to look at a broader swath of players.
“We are aware that scholarships impact the competitiveness… There’s somewhat of a ‘sexiness’ with going D1, as opposed to D2,” said Weems.
There are many student athletes who attend St. Cloud State on partial scholarships in Division II sports such as football, basketball, wrestling and more. St. Cloud State is seventh overall in the NSIC for scholarships, meaning they give out the seventh most in the conference.
Chad Welk, assistant head basketball coach at St. Cloud State, explained how scholarships attract student athletes.
“The basketball players at this program are granted a scholarship due to the number of players that are needed to play the sport, but also it helps to have the bells and whistles that spark more interests in being a part of a ball club,” said Welk.
“It comes down to human connection. Players will commit to a place they feel a connection, whether that’s with a coach, the team philosophy, or whatever the case may be,” Weems said.
John Averkamp, a sophomore on the men’s basketball team, was recruited by St. Cloud State two years ago. Averkamp places a heavy emphasis on personal interaction with coaches and recruiters.
“It was a big deal for me to see that there were college coaches at my games watching me,” Averkamp said. He went on to admit two of his deciding factors when choosing St. Cloud State.
“The most important thing to me was whether or not the school had my major and if I could play and enjoy my college experience,” he said.
Ryan Wickersham, a sophomore and Division I hockey player for Boston University, shares a very similar recruitment experience with Averkamp.
Wickersham’s first taste of the recruiting process came back in 2011 while playing junior hockey for the Frederick Freeze, a USPHL team in Maryland. After an offer from the University of New Hampshire early in the season, Wickersham was tempted to commit right away, but with guidance from his parents, ended up holding out to weigh his options. By the end of the season he was given four more scholarship offers from top Division I schools. According to Wickersham, it was his parents who pushed him to choose a college based on academic interest first, and hockey second.
“I took into account what my parents were saying and I ended up landing on BU,” said Wickersham. “I wanted a place where I could pursue the degree I wanted, but also a school that I felt would utilize me to the best of my abilities… Think and make sure that it is the right decision for you.”
Most student athletes do not go on to play sports professionally, so it is very common that student athletes will choose a school not only based on their sports program, but also their academic fields.
In the end, Heather Weems agreed this should help St. Cloud State with recruitment, however, recruits will always have reasons why they do not wish to go here.
“Money is a piece of success; it isn’t everything,” said Weems.
It’s up to the hockey program to make the most of this privilege and to keep performing at a high level in order to maintain good recruits.
Eddie Alcantara, Evan Heier, Justin Hobson, Danielle Perego contributed to this article.