The view overlooking La Playa Stadium, with its backdrop of ocean and palm trees, is a major draw for student-athletes who choose to play at City College, but this year many recruits won’t get a chance to see it—at least not until the fall.
With a ban on face-to-face recruiting in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, community colleges across California will grapple with a new set of challenges as they try to attract new athletes to their sports programs.
Athletic Director Rocco Constantino expressed concern that City College could face even greater obstacles than many schools due to the low number of high schools in Santa Barbara County, particularly in comparison to Los Angeles County and other densely populated areas.
“It seems logical that many incoming freshmen might end up staying closer to home for school next year, which could put us at a disadvantage,” Constantino said.
The Santa Barbara Community College District contains only seven high schools, while the Los Angeles Community College District contains 157 schools. Coaches are restricted as to how they can recruit outside of their local district and the surrounding area, as teams can only meet with out-of-area recruits if the recruits visit the college campus.
Although the normal geographic recruiting restrictions could have less impact (because prospects will have to interview electronically regardless of location), there are simply fewer athletes close to City College than there are to most other community colleges in the state. If prospects stay close to home due to the uncertainty around the coronavirus, City College will have far fewer players to draw from.
Despite the disadvantages, both football coach Craig Moropoulos and women’s basketball coach Sandrine Krul expressed optimism about the early returns.
“Things are going very, very well,” Moropoulos said.
Moropoulos and Krul cautioned that they will not know for sure who will be on their teams until school starts in the fall—there are no letters of intent at the community college level.
Krul said that she has kept in touch with potential incoming freshmen through text every week as she helps guide them through the process, including class planning.
She explained that some of the students she is talking to are struggling because of their uncertainty as to whether or not there will be sports next year.
“Forget about basketball,” Krul said, reciting what she tells potential recruits. “SBCC academically is a top institution in the country.”
The football team has hosted potential recruits with a full virtual tour of the campus and program, including time with position coaches, guidance on the lifting and nutritional programs and a Q&A session with a panel of current players. Recruits have also had access to virtual workouts with the team over social media and online visits with academic counselors.
Despite the plethora of services available to prospects virtually, Moropoulos said that the lack of in-person visit would “without a doubt” still affect potential recruits.
“The actual visual [of the campus] is a strength,” he said.
Despite the challenges that the coaches will have to overcome to fill their rosters, Moropoulos said that the merits of City College will still bring players to the school.
“If we can’t sell a guy on going here they probably should go somewhere else,” he said. “We feel that strongly about this place.”