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DI or bust mentality

What’s Wrong with the ‘DI or Bust’ Mentality

The “DI or bust” mentality is causing a lot of student-athletes to miss out on life-changing experiences. So many individuals guiding these student-athletes are not taking into account how important the overall life experience of college athletics can be – to limit yourself and your opportunities is foolish.

All student-athletes will be former players a lot longer in life than current players. There are many non-DI schools that have tremendous programs and opportunities for life growth.

What’s Wrong with the “DI or Bust” Mentality

Just because a program is DI, that doesn’t mean it’s better.

I often see players go to lower-level DI programs, not realizing there are many DII programs that have better academics, a stronger fan base, more academic support, and are flat-out better schools.

There is some real good basketball at the NCAA DII and DIII levels, and if you have ever watched a high-level NAIA basketball game, you realize how much talent is on that level as well. Even junior college has some serious ball among its ranks.

My biggest issue with the “DI or bust” mentality is how many quality schools people pass by chasing that dream.

People rarely think about how difficult it is mentally for high school stars going to college and then sit on the bench at DI schools. I have seen many players who struggle a great deal mentally when they get to college and don’t have the opportunity to play early in their careers. Their choice of schools was based on the hype with no real understanding about how important it is to look at all aspects of the experience.

I had a former player who was so focused on going DI that she took the only scholarship offered to her. The program lost almost every game, and the student-athlete didn’t connect with the school’s town. After sitting on the bench for two years and being somewhat unhappy, she transferred to a DII program and had an amazing college experience in her upperclassman years.

I wish I could say it’s just the money that drives this blind desire to go DI, but a lot of it has to do with the perspective of parents and those who are part of the player’s fan base.

I had another player who really liked the DII program that offered her, but so much time and money had been invested in the DI dream over the years. The DII offer was a letdown to those who were part of the player’s support system. It was a great school with a wonderful location and a beautiful campus – it was everything the player wanted. Eventually, she signed the the DII program, but it took her parents a long time to accept that decision.

It’s kept quiet, but there are a lot of student-athletes playing DIII athletics and paying little to no money at all for college. Schools figure out a way to help you if they want you. NAIA programs sometimes offer full scholarships, too.

The bottom line is, only one percent will go DI, so it makes sense to look at all available opportunities and expand the perspective to more than just basketball.

Every player today will be a former athlete to a much longer stretch of their life. This moment will not last. There are some dynamic non-NCAA DI schools out there that tons of athletes miss out on just because of the “DI or bust” mentality, and they’re doing themselves a disservice.

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