Can Millikin Attract Top Recruits?


Photo Courtesy of Millikin University

Within former Millikin men’s basketball coach Matt Nadelhoffer’s comments about leaving the Big Blue program was the statement “We haven’t necessarily kept up to date with certain things. It goes back to everybody will say they want to win but very few will do what it takes. We are behind in certain areas.” What he was talking about was Millikin’s facilities in comparison to the rest of the NCAA Division III schools. He said, “we talk about creating an atmosphere of success. I don’t know if they really have that here right now. At some point, they’re going to have to do it. They owe it to the students who come and pay tuition. We’re in the CCIW. We need to be better that way.”

Yes, we have a turf football field to attract football and soccer recruits. We also have a brand new turf softball field to attract more softball recruits. Sure, these are great. But what does that do for the basketball teams?

Most athletes that come to Millikin are in agreement that they didn’t decide to attend the university because of the facilities. Most of them probably were being recruited by schools that had much better locker rooms and weight rooms, but they decided to come to Millikin because of the coaches.

Though Millikin may be lacking in the facilities department, there is no question that all of the coaches are the main reason why most student athletes choose to become a part of the Big Blue family. Nadelhoffer is also quoted in an article by the Decatur Herald and Review saying, “but we are a great place. The people here are what make it a great place.” He’s right. If you ask any of the athletes on campus, they will most likely tell you that in the recruiting process, the coaches in every program were constantly making them feel wanted, and they were being reminded daily of the fact that Millikin provides all students with outstanding academic opportunities.

The other schools in the CCIW seem to attract the “better” recruits because of their facilities. At nearly every other school in the conference, they have separate locker rooms for each different team that are all much nicer than the shared locker rooms we have here. They also have better weight rooms that include better equipment than we have. Many opposing players comment that they hate coming to Millikin because it’s such a “crappy” school.

As a student athlete at Millikin, I would beg to differ, and I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t truly mean it. When I was being recruited to come to Millikin, their facilities seemed nicer to me than the ones at most of the other schools I was considering playing at. My other top choice, Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, has only one court in their gymnasium with less than half the amount of bleachers as Millikin and their weight room is half the size of the one at the Decatur Indoor Sports Center. They still manage to pull in top recruits for their men’s basketball team year after year. The same is true for St. Norbert College. They have had successful men’s and women’s basketball teams consistently, yet their current gymnasium has two wood courts in addition to two courts that have the material fit for an indoor track. St. Norbert has not let their lack of facilities change their recruiting process, and it seems as if they are always in the top of the standings in the Midwest Conference. They are currently in the process of building a new facility, complete with a new and improved weight room.

Where does this leave Millikin? Would a change in facilities impact the recruits we are able to bring in? What it seems Nadelhoffer was attempting to do was take some of the blame as to why he could not string together enough wins in his six years as Millikin’s head coach to achieve a winning season. He said, “but in the bottom line, I didn’t get the job done. I didn’t win enough games.” Millikin always seems to recruit talented players, but it is always a matter of them not being able to use their talents to work together to achieve a common goal. Though the facilities are an issue, it wouldn’t deter an athlete that is really exciting about playing for the caliber of coaches at Millikin.

Though it seems Nadelhoffer was thrown into a difficult position, it isn’t likely that his success would have been hindered so significantly by the outdated facilities we have; it seems to be more a matter of a lack of coaching in his case.