Is It Just About Athletic Ability?

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June 15, 2011 | Andrew Eggerding | HCI

There's no doubt, if you follow college football at all, you've heard about the NCAA investigation of Ohio State: a departed quarterback among five suspended players, a coach's resignation, and a disheartened, yet loyal, fan base.  Although the story continues to unravel, as a proud graduate of The Ohio State University and a lifelong Buckeyes fan (it is bigger than any football program), I'm ready to move forward and see a great football program rebuilt.

The first step to rebuilding can be in recruiting.  The NCAA has strict rules and regulations for recruiting student athletes.  In football recruiting, for example, athletic programs are allowed a period between April and May to evaluate students' athletic ability and academic qualifications.  Not until September 1 of the student's senior year are phone calls to recruits allowed, and only one per week.  There is even a strict social media policy if the student uses Twitter.  Sorry, coaches, no follows, tweets, or hastags with recruits.

Maybe you have these exact recruiting rules when searching for your own talent, although I have my doubts - call it a hunch.  Whatever your guidelines are, they are probably a combination of qualities: skills, experience, and education, among others.  If you were looking at skills alone, your recruiting would be much different.  Or if you were just looking at candidates with specific educational backgrounds, wouldn't that completely change who applied, who you sourced, and ultimately who you offered the position to?  And let's not forget the personality because you want to be positive that the candidate will fit and value your organizational culture.

Many organizations today are revitalizing their recruiting and candidate assessments to find out more about the candidate, and I suggest the NCAA and Ohio State's athletic program do the same.  At Method Products, a San Francisco based consumer goods company, the three-step hiring process now includes cross-functional interviews, homework, and an on-boarding stage in an effort to gain a deeper look at a candidate's strengths and weaknesses, talent, and capabilities.  Companies are recognizing the importance of finding the best skills, talent, and personality - not just a warm body to fill an open position.  Why should athletic ability or record be the only priority in recruiting student athletes and coaches?

As Ohio State moves forward, they will have to rebuild a football program focused on all of the people involved, coaches and players.  It's not just about finding the best talent, but the best fit to represent the culture of the university - an institution that embraces scholarship, research, service, and tradition.  This is no easy task, but it can be accomplished; there is a science and strategy to finding the best candidates to fit a company, too.  In an upcoming webcast, Replicating Performance: The Science of Sourcing and Strategy of Fit, presenters Keith Wiedenkeller, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at AMC Entertainment, Inc., and Josh Bersin, CEO & President of Bersin & Associates, will discuss the research behind this science, and tell their companies' success stories. (Register for the free webcast here:

Like any company today that is looking for the best talent, people who have drive and passion for the organization, so too should athletic recruiters searching for athletes and coaches to play for and represent a highly regarded university.


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