Early recruiting undermines the fundamental principles of being a “student-athlete” and the role of sports in education.  When 13-year old girls are recruited for college sports before they even play a high school game, the model has broken down.  The ideals of amateurism have eroded as universities compete to win, not just in sports, but campus facilities and national rankings.  Sports helps to showcase a university’s prestige even in non-revenue generating sports like women’s lacrosse. 


The NCAA President, Mark Emmert, set forth three pillars: academics, well-being and fairness, to ensure that college sports remain a pathway of opportunity for student-athletes to shape their future.  Early recruiting infringes on these pillars and the NCAA’s “student-centered” mission to prioritize academics over athletics.  The NCAA Constitution states, 

2.9 The Principle of Amateurism

Student-athletes shall be amateurs in an intercollegiate sport, and their participation should be motivated primarily by education and by the physical, mental and social benefits to be derived. 

Sports should play a positive role in the overall educational experience of a student-athlete, not facilitate a process that recruits years before college admissions and disadvantages those who cannot afford to participate.  Guided by the principles set forth by the NCAA and ideals of amateurism, the pending early recruiting legislation should pass but unfortunately, previous proposals have been rejected. 


Our mission is to be an integral part of higher education and focus on the development of our student-athletes.  We must be student-centered in all that we do.  The Association was founded on the notion of integrating athletics into the educational experience, and we have to make sure we deliver on tha
100-year old promise."  NCAA President - Mark Emmert

Over the course of the last three years, I have had the privilege to meet hundreds of female lacrosse players, their parents and coaches.  These young women are tremendous student-athletes and should be commended for achieving such high levels both on the field and in the classroom.  One of the most rewarding aspects is to see the evolution of women's sports since I played at Brown in the 1990s when the university faced a Title IX lawsuit.


The fact that universities are competing to recruit top female athletes at such an early age is a testament to how far women's sports has evolved.  However, the expansion of opportunities for girls to play sports should not come at the expense of their "well-being" and education.  While the NCAA can mitigate issues with legislation, there will always be loopholes and universities will need to assume greater responsibility to determine the real future of the role of sports in education.


Lexi Ledoyen, #23 Capital Club Lacrosse, carries the ball in the midfield with an injury on her left knee at the Nike Elite G8 girls lacrosse tournament (2015).  The green band on Lexi's left arm shows she has committed to Syracuse as an early recruit. © Early Recruiting - Equity IX - SportsOgram


Lindsay Ernst runs in the 2017 NYC Marathon at mile 25 with a huge smile on her face and arms lined in victory.  © Equity IX - SportsOgram - photo by Leigh Ernst Friestedt NYC Marathon - Equity IX - SportsOgram
Kerrin Maurer, #9 Duke, top center with eye black under her goggles carries the ball in midfield against Syracuse midfielder at the ACC Women's Lacrosse Championship (2015).  Maurer was a top player from St. Anthony's and early recruit to Duke women's lac Early Recruiting - Equity IX - SportsOgram
Gregory and Annabelle Fowlkes race their Indian sailboat at the Constable Cup in Nantucket.  Gregory is wearing a light blue hat with a matching Indian long sleeve t-shirt. Annabelle has a yellow hat and is hiking out of the boat.  © 2017 Equity IX - Spor Sailing - Equity IX - SportsOgram


Annie Dyson, #14 Capital Lacrosse Club, is an early recruit at UVA.  Dyson showcases in front of top college coaches at the Nike Elite G8 girls lacrosse tournament (2015).  The green arm band on her left bicep shows that she has committed early to college Early Recruiting - Equity IX - SportsOgram

Leigh Ernst Friestedt

Leigh Ernst Friestedt - CEO and Founder of Equity IX and SportsOgram - sports photography (lacrosse, sailing, tennis, marathons) and analyzes key issues in sports including early recruiting, NCAA rules, gender equity and Title IX. Leigh Ernst Friestedt - Equity IX, LLC
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