When is the Right Time to Say 'When'?

A coach emailed to ask exactly when was the right time to walk away?

Got this email, and it’s a question I know many of you at all division levels have when it comes to when the right time is to walk away from a prospect who is exceeding the time you gave them to commit to you and your program:

“Just listened to episode 113 of the podcast, I think it was, as I’m driving back from recruiting trip. Good stuff.

Two questions:

First, when you talk about being willing to walk away, is that from your entire recruiting pool or is that just from your top recruits when you set a deadline? Do you wanna have a secondary pool ready that you wait moron just in case you don’t fill your spot with the top group will you gave the deadline to? 

Second: When it comes to being vulnerable with something that isn’t great about your program… Where does financial aid packaging fall into that conversation? Our packaging is pretty average relative to our top editors, but I would not want to scare the family away from even going through the process. Thank you in advance. Would love your thoughts.

So, here are my thoughts:


When its time to walk away, after your timeline has run it’s course and your deadline has not been followed by your prospect, it’s time to take control and walk away. Professionally, and politely, but you need to move on.

How? By starting at the top of your list or recruiting depth chart, and moving down in order. We want as many of the best recruits to commit, and because we know this strategy works, it’s best to go in order from top to bottom to secure the best commits.

Hard to do, and not typical - which is why most coaches still wait and give prospects time…out of the fear of ‘rushing’ or ‘pressuring’ a prospect with a timeline and deadline. But those that do it change their career trajectory, and that of their program.

And, to the second part of the first question, doing it that way gives you a realtime view of if or when you need to add more recruits to your list, and how that back-up supply is doing as you move through the process.


When it comes to vulnerability, yes…money counts. If you aren’t offering a full ride scholarship, and you typically get a cost objection or your school’s aid packages aren’t as good as other places, I would include that in your list of being vulnerable and ‘showing your cracks’ to recruits (go to that link I just gave you if you want more about the philosophy of how to do it, and why it can be a vital part of the recruiting decision process).

Your approach to a recruit might sound something like this:

“I just wanted to be up front with you: When you get our financial package, there’s a good chance it’s not going to be the one that gives you the most money compared to some other schools you might be looking at.

“What I want you to keep in mind is that there’s a reason for that: We’re going to give you more and invest more into the education and degree you walk away with here. And even if we end up being a few thousand dollars less expensive than other schools, that’s not the best way to choose a college…don’t base everything around money. We’ll give you the best package we can, because we want you, but just make sure you take a look at the whole package.”

You might have a slightly different approach, which is fine. The biggest components of this strategy that we’ve seen work are:

  • The fact that you’re talking openly and honestly about a possible objection shows the prospect that you’re going to be truthful throughout the process. That’s huge, because most athletes come in to a conversation at least a little skeptical, it’s good for you to offer up something that showcases one of your potential weaknesses.

  • It’s also vital that you redirect and redefine how they look at that objection. Explain why it shouldn’t be a big factor, and how they should look at it. Your job is to make the case, their job is to decide whether or not it fits their view of a college experience as a student-athlete.

In each case, you as the coach should be the one leading the conversation, and defining the process. When that doesn’t happen, questions go unanswered and recruiting spins into chaos.