Athletic recruitment policies change

86% of recruitments come from within a five-hour radius of NKU. This map was provided by Google and

Recruitment is the foundation of any athletic program, and with a recent transition to Division I, NKU has made many changes to the way it seeks out student-athletes.

Many variables have changed the recruiting process for NKU coaches, including media coverage and the changing of conferences. With this change, many of them have expanded the region from which they recruit, but still concentrate on the immediate region.


Where and how coaches recruit

When recruiting student athletes most coaches said that they prefer to draw from within a five-hour radius, as students are more likely to come to NKU if it means they can make it home throughout the year.

“I think typically in women’s basketball, most females want to be within about a five-hour radius of home,” Dawn Plitzuweit, women’s basketball head coach, said. “So we kind of stick from Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati area and branch out from there.”

However David Bezold, men’s basketball head coach, said that they stick to the local region for the potential of expanding their fan base.

“We want to stay as close as possible, because I think local kids invest more in that university, and also add to your fan base,” Bezold said. “We’d love to have everybody, you know I wish our whole roster was no more than an hour drive for a zillion reasons.”

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams begin their recruitment by looking at Amateur Athletic Union camps throughout the summer, narrowing in on players who come from within the tri-state area.

The baseball program  has had to make major changes to their recruitment process though since going DI.

“I can’t win the battle in Division I with the University of Kentucky and Louisville, just because they’re so established and their facilities are a lot nicer,” Todd Asalon, baseball head coach, said. “So we’ve gone up to Canada because it’s out, it’s away, and a lot of recruiters don’t want to go that far.”

Asalon also said that in the changes he’s made in recruiting have also been in that he now looks more at junior colleges because of the type of players required to be successful in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

“To win in the A-Sun you have to have guys that are bigger, faster, stronger, so with the junior college you have guys that are older and bigger, instead of the skinny weak freshmen,” Asalon said. “Not all freshman come in like that, but the freshmen we get aren’t really ready for the A-Sun.”



How media coverage impacts recruitment

With all of the coverage coming NKU’s way, it has more of an impact on the athletics program as a whole. It also has the opportunity to impact the way in which coaches recruit athletes.

“The more coverage, all the sudden there’s a big article in The Enquirer, a big article on the front page or wherever that goes, that shows the importance of our program and that we’re doing things right, that we’re actually getting covered, and that’s important that people notice your program,” Bezold said.

Bezold added that it impacts his team specifically because if  the coaches are recruiting someone who doesn’t know much about NKU, then they’re able to send potential athletes articles from the team’s previous season so that they can find out about the school and program.

With technology and social media dictating much of what recruits find out about schools Plitzuweit said that they try and utilize outlets such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to reach potential recruits.

However, not all coverage is good coverage, according to the coaches, but they also can’t shy away from it.

“I mean last year we lost eight games in a row, there’s nothing we can do about that except for tell them, ‘Hey, this is a process, we’re trying to grow up,” Bezold said. “There’s games we don’t want to lose, we want to get better players in here and that’s why we’re recruiting you.’”

Trying to avoid the negative light, Asalon said that it often impacts decisions when making recruitment decisions.

“You know we want to stay on the sports page, we don’t want to get in anything that’s non sports-related,” Asalon said. “So we want to make sure we do things the right way, recruit the right kind of kids, and do things the right way.”


How being part of the Atlantic Sun impacts recruitment

Many coaches use NKU being part of the A-Sun Conference, a primarily southern conference, to convince students to come play here.

“Kids who play baseball like to play where it’s warm, and we use that a lot like if you want to play warm you want to play in the south,” Asalon said.

Bezold also uses similar tactics in recruitment, often telling potential recruits that in the colder months of the year they’ll get to spend 10-15 days in Florida.

“It does, and we’ve talked about that because we had to decide will we expand our base south because we’ll tell kids, ‘We’ll get you back home.’ Because we’ll play games back down there, you’ll play in front of your families,” Bezold said. “So we have done that a little bit, and we use it in the reverse too.”

Being a part of the southern conference also increases NKU’s exposure to people from a wider region than before.