Alumnus Talks NCAA Requirements with EHS Athletes

By JEET JAGTAP ‘24

The Edison High Counseling Department hosted an event via Zoom on April 7 in an effort to address the demands and requirements related to collegiate sports. Matt Suydam ‘12, current Assistant Director of Athletic Compliance at Rutgers University, spoke to student athletes about the NCAA and its expectations for participating at the college level.  

Suydam stressed the importance of planning ahead when including sports in a college search.

“You should definitely be proactive in planning and recruiting,” he stated. “You know, be a good student and research colleges, always be on the lookout for visiting schools.”

Guidance counselor Mrs. Kim Zavistoski encouraged students to send highlight videos and express interest to potential colleges, but she cautions that proper correspondence is part of the pursuit as well.  

“It is important to be professional in your emails to the coaching staff as you want to make a good impression on them,” Zavistoski added.  

Suydam also advised prospective student athletes to think about their off-time too. “If you want to get noticed by a coach, I would highly recommend participating in their summer camps. In football and women’s basketball, you can take an official visit to the school which is a visit on your own time,” he said.  An unofficial visit, Suydam stated, “is a visit to a school when you are a junior that is on your own time, and paid for by you—an effective way to see the campus, look at athletic facilities, attend competitions or meet with counselors.  In contrast, an official visit is a visit that is paid for by the school and lasts forty-eight hours hours.  This includes talking with the coaches and teammates and making an impression on the recruiting staff.” 

Suydam cautioned, though, that there are rules on communication between athletes and coaches. In recent years, coaches can view tournaments, games, and occasionally practices; however, they are not allowed to communicate with students until they are Juniors.  

Above all these considerations for compliance, Suydam indicated the most important criteria for applying to college for sports is a student’s academic success.  Guidelines for GPA, SAT, and ACT grades differ between colleges; however, for the Division I schools a requirement of an unweighted 2.3 GPA is necessary.  Suydam did also concede that, due to the pandemic, students are not being required to take the SAT and ACT  for the NCAA this year. But, he did clarify that students must make the graduation requirement for each subject.  

Lastly, Suydam wanted student athletes to know the importance of balance, caution, and realism when picking a school based on opportunities in athletics.  In other words, Suydam stressed that if the student no longer wants to continue participating in a sport, or an athlete gets injured, students with or without their teams need to be happy completing the program at that school.  

Suydam wanted student athletes to know the importance of balance, caution, and realism when picking a school based on opportunities in athletics.

In addition, Mrs. Zavistoski shares some other factors that student athletes should consider when looking at colleges. “Athletes should consider if the sports team/ athletic department would be a good fit for them as it relates to the sport they play. Will the student play right away? What position will they play? What are the facilities like? What academic supports are in place?” she adds.  

Picking a well-balanced program and school gives athletes the necessary flexibility between an immediate experience in collegiate athletes and future opportunities in the job market.