So how do Palomar coaches convince young adults to come play sports at Palomar College; especially, when they have no scholarships to offer and outdated facilities that drive away spectators? Answer: opportunity.
Coaches at California community colleges are not allowed to offer scholarships based on the bylaws of the California Community College Athletic Association, and the California Master Plan for public education.
The main reason is that at one time it was free to attend school at a community college in California. Even now at $46 per unit, community colleges in California are far cheaper than community colleges in other states.
However, neighboring states like Nevada and Arizona do offer scholarships at the community college level for athletics.
Men’s head basketball coach, John O’Neill, said that is a major deterrent when kids from out-of-state contact him to play basketball at Palomar.
“I get four to five emails a day from kids looking to play basketball for us . . . some from Florida , Arizona, Oregon . . . once they hear we don’t offer scholarships that’s the last we hear from them,” O’Neill said.
The biggest obstacle coaches at Palomar must overcome are the fifty -year- old out-dated facilities.
The Dome has no air conditioning for indoor sports.
The baseball and softball field have cramp dugouts and limited seating.
And the football field is used strictly for practice because it has no seating for spectators.
“It’s tough when you bring in a kid you really like, you recruit him and you show him the football field and say this is only for practice,” head football coach Joe Early said. “You’re going to be playing your home games at Escondido High school.”
However, the coaches at Palomar College have found a way to work through a labyrinth of obstacles to put quality teams on the field annually.
Last season, the men’s and women’s basketball team along with the baseball team won the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Championship. The women’s softball team went on to win the state championship.
How do they do it? The coaches at Palomar recruit primarily local athletes and offer them an opportunity to start for two years and get a quality education.
Coaches at Palomar are restricted to who they can recruit due to the bylaws of the CCCAA. Palomar can only recruit athletes from districts that share a common border with Palomar’s (continuos district rule).
Palomar coaches can basically recruit from El Cajon to Temecula, and are restricted from recruiting someone from out-of-state unless the athlete contacts a coach at Palomar first: First Contact rule.
With a zero recruiting budget and no scholarships to offer, the coaches said they feel it’s best to stay local when it comes to recruiting an athlete.
Many Palomar athletes, like basketball players Mikaela Stanton and Jeremy Franklin, said the main reason they chose Palomar over other community colleges was because it offered them the opportunity to live at home and save money for two more years.
The Palomar coaches recruit the same local players that four-year schools recruit, but if a player does come to Palomar it’s generally because they weren’t ready athletically or academically to go to a major university.
Head baseball coach Buck Taylor said there is a silver lining in coming to Palomar. It can offer an athlete an opportunity to be a starter for two years, an opportunity they wouldn’t get at a four-year school and that’s something he sells to his recruits.
“You might have an 18-year-old bench player who gets a 25 percent scholarship to the University of Southern California, that leaves $40,000 a year in tuition for only 10 at bats because he’s overmatched by a 22-year-old. Kids can come here as a starter and get the same classes for two years,” Taylor said.
Palomar coaches just don’t sell the promise to recruits that they will get Division I type coaching and schemes to play in. They also promise they will get them where they need to be academically to transfer.
“Back in the day a kid could take 12 units of weightlifting in a semester and still transfer. Those days are gone. Now a kid needs 24 units between seasons, 18 must be academically, so we do our best to make sure these kids are where they need to be to transfer,” Early said.
In addition student athletes at Palomar are on a short time table. It’s vital for them to have 48 units completed by the end of their sophomore year to transfer, because they have only four years of eligibility once they become a full-time student.
Palomar coaches have done well on their promises.
Taylor said roughly 90 percent of the student athletes at Palomar are eligible to transfer after two seasons.
Also, this past fall 67 student athletes from Palomar college made the PCAC All-Academic Honoree list. This achievement goes to an athlete who has a GPA of 3.0 or higher and has completed 12 or more semester units.
Lastly, for the 2012-13 season over 35 student athletes from Palomar College received scholarships to four-year schools.