The following quote is from a New York Times article about the Ivy League’s new policies that have substantially enhanced financial aid for all admitted students, making it easier to recruit elite athletes.
A recruited Ivy League athlete must have the academic credentials to survive the stringent and highly selective admissions process at each institution. Coaches have little sway in the admissions process, although they do provide a list of potential athletes to admissions officials. Across the league, about 13 percent of each university’s incoming class is composed of athletes chosen from coaches’ lists.
Essentially, coaches are selecting 13% of the class. Since most athletes are admitted in the early rounds of the process, the figures from this chart serve to make the significance of this hook even more compelling — 23% admit rate for the early rounds and 9% admit rate for regular decision.
Further explanation on how this works from another elite school, the University of Chicago
But at Chicago, as at most of the nation’s elite universities, a football player has the advantage of a big pair of cleats in the door. “Admissions always tells us, ‘There are 500 kids with perfect test scores we turned away,’ ” Maloney said. “But they also want kids who bring something else to the table — sculptors and actors and, yes, football players.”
You need the other credentials, but playing football can be the hook that gets you in the door of that elite university.