Friday Conversation: James Sackville

James Sackville is a former SMU punter from Australia who founded Athletes in Recruitment, a college sports recruiting platform that launched in May. It’s a cross between LinkedIn and a dating app — athletes and coaches can swipe right or left to indicate interest in a school’s program. He spoke to Sports Section about recruitment obstacles and online solutions.

Below is an excerpt from our sitdown with James:

When did you become aware of student-athletes’ challenges in recruitment?
I went through a program (ProKick Australia) which got me to SMU; they did a fantastic job. But it could have ended completely differently. Some of my friends weren’t happy with the places they went to. I thought, “If we were all in America we would have the ability to pick and choose, assuming we were talented enough.” Then I got to America and realized it was even more broken here than it was for an international student.

How did the idea for the app come to fruition?
I came up with the idea in my last semester of college and said to my coaches, “If I was to build something like this, would you buy it?” And they said, “Of course. It sounds fantastic if you can do it.” I had the basic concept, then went back and included the social networking feature that is LinkedIn-ish, working on it for the better part of a year.

How has this helped recruiting during the pandemic?
Travel was banned for the better part of 15 months within college football, so it was just virtual. Now, college programs don’t have to spend millions of dollars traveling across the country anymore. This very much helps that process, and also the athletes. They don’t have to go to 25 camps in a summer and spend $10,000. Not everyone is good enough to play college sports, but at least you can figure it out and measure yourself here.

Read the full conversation here.