Below is a (not at all comprehensive) list of some questions you could ask coaches when you talk with them throughout the recruiting process. Many of these are things I asked, wish I’d asked, or things you might not think to ask.
What is the practice schedule like? Times, for how long, number of times per day, how many days per week, etc.
How do you get to the boathouse/practice facility? Bus, carpool, walk, shuttle, etc.
Team dynamic, structure, hierarchy? Is there a student board, team elected or coach appointed captains, etc.
Athlete retention rate – do people stick around or quit after one season.
Do you work with our schedules or do we have to manage our classes around crew (instead of the other way around)?
How many hours a week can you expect to spend doing rowing related activities? Practice, travel, lifting, team study tables, outreach. and/or team activities, etc.
Do you like competing in the ____ conference and why?
Is the university looking to change conferences any time soon?
What does each season consist of, training wise?
From a coach’s perspective, what do you see me bringing to the team? Have a counter statement ready.
What is your relationship like with the professors? Frequent interaction, no interaction, on good terms, ever had any issues, etc.
Graduation rate of those on the team
What kind of academic support is available? Athletic adviser, mandated study tables, peer advisers, etc.
Do athletes have priority registration and if so, how far in advance of regular registration?
What’s the team GPA for the past semester/year?
How much class time is missed due to traveling?
Will my roommate be another rower/coxswain on the team?
Do rowers/coxswains tend to be housed in certain dorms or are they housed all over?
Is the opportunity available to earn a scholarship in the future if my performance merits it?
What are the factors that go into determining who gets a scholarship?
Would you consider your program more, less, or equally as demanding in comparison to other similar programs in this division, conference, etc.
How do you compare the program to out-of-conference competitors?
How do you determine lineups?
How do you use freshmen recruits in lineups comparison to freshmen walk ons who have rowing or coxing experience?
Has anyone transferred from your team to another university and team? What were their reasons for leaving, if you know?
What would your team say are your biggest attributes? Have a counter statement ready.
What would they say they like the least about you? Have a counter statement ready.
What is your coaching style and philosophy?
Would I still have the opportunity to study abroad? Has anyone done it, how does it effect team standing, are you welcomed back when you return, etc.
How much school support does the team receive?
What is the relationship like with the athletic department/athletic director? Does he/she make it a point to get to know all the teams, etc.
Have you had the chance to see me row or cox in person? Thoughts, opinions, etc.
How would I fit in with the team and what could you see my role being?
What are your expectations of your athletes, both on and off the water? This is an intentionally vague question.
How do you handle discipline if it’s a serious issue but not something that merits the university’s or athletic department’s involvement?
What are your short term and long term goals for the team?
Where do you place your coaching emphasis?
Who are the assistant coaches? What are they like, what are their specialties, what do they bring to the team, how do they interact with you/each other, etc.
What is the typical day like in the life of a University of ____ rower?
Are you planning on leaving soon (contract expires, looking for new opportunities, etc.) or will you be here for the foreseeable future?
What are the policies for missing or being late to practice due to academic or extracurricular club commitments?
How many credits are required to be on the team and/or maintain my scholarship?
Where do your rowers come from?
What is the biggest/proudest achievement, both on and off the water, during your tenure?
If I’m injured and on scholarship, what happens?
How do you determine whether or not to renew scholarships? What’s the criteria, etc.
What do you know about my major? Thoughts on how it might interfere, etc.
Can the application fee be waived for athletes? (At least one of mine was.)
What is the team/athletic department’s standing with the NCAA? Any team violations, etc.
What are the most popular majors amongst the members of the team?
How can rowing help me as a college student? Again, intentionally vague.
What kind of alumni support do you have?
Where do I stand amongst other recruits?
How many people are you actively pursuing and has anyone signed their NLI yet?
Can you have a part-time job or do work study at the same time as being a full-time student-athlete? How it’s worked for other rowers, do other rowers do it, what kind of jobs do they have/have they had, etc.
What are the next steps in the process?
Is there anything I can provide that would help you in the evaluation process?
When can we touch base again? There are NCAA rules so make sure you find out the specifics to avoiding being caught in a recruiting violation.
This is all just the tip of the iceberg but hopefully this gives you some stuff to think about before you meet with the college coaches. For more advice on recruiting, check out the “recruiting” tag.