AIR vs NCSA: Which Recruiting Platform is the Best? (2023)

Recruiting services can be a great way to increase your exposure and reach more college coaches. Two of the more popular ones are NCSA and AIR.

NCSA is a full-service recruiting company, while AIR is a platform bringing together coaches and players.

In this article, we’ll do a head-by-head comparison of the two platforms.

But first, let’s take a look at what both companies actually do.

What is AIR?

Athletes in Recruitment (AIR)is a social media platform combining the likes of LinkedIn and a dating app, but specificallyfor college athletics recruiting.

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It is a 3 sided platform bringing together all the major players in therecruiting process.


  • Create their own athletic resume
  • Upload their highlights
  • Provide their interests
  • Connect with college coaches


  • Act as an intermediary 3rd party who bridges communication between their student athletes & the college coaches
  • Create profile and link account with their student athletes
  • Connect with coaches on the student athletes’ behalf
  • Could be a HS coach, parent, guardian, trainer, school administrator, mentor, etc.

College Coaches:

  • Determine the features they’re looking for
  • Sort through prospective players
  • Connect with student-athletes& their respective Liaisons

AIR was founded in 2020 as recruiting has seen a drastic shift to a digital process.

What is NCSA?

Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) is a for-profit organization that connects high school student-athletes with college coaches.

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It is a recruiting service that has “coaches” who will guide you and your family through the recruiting process.

You start with a free profile and can choose to purchase higher level options that include more advanced features.

The NCSA Athletic Recruiting team consists of coaches, scouts and former college athletes.

The process is broken down into:

  • create a free profile
  • get educated on the recruiting process
  • purchase an advanced package
  • have more tools at your disposable to get recruited

NCSA was founded in the early 2000’s as technology came into the college recruiting scene.


NCSA has been the market leader for some time now, while AIR is the innovative company trying to shake up the game.

Let’s compare some of the main features you’ll want to look at before making a decision.

  1. Signing Up Process
  2. User Experience
  3. Athletic Resume
  4. Matching with Coaches
  5. Profile Information
  6. Pricing
  7. History
  8. Head to Head Breakdown

1. Signing Up Process

NCSA Sign Up Process:

Signing up for NCSA was easy as it walks you through an initial set of questions that is tailored to your chosen sport to help you build your profile and resume.

NCSA is tailored for the web and has a section for both parents and student-athletes to sign up. They also have a mobile app.

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AIR Sign Up Process:

AIR is an app that can be downloaded on both Google Play and the App Store. They also have a web version for computer users.

Signing up for AIR was easy as well. Input all of your information to create your recruiting resume and profile.

Both recruiting companies are free to sign up for and have a straight forward signing up process.

AIR makes it slightly easier since their platform is best suited as an app, enabling you to sign up from your phone.

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2. User Experience

NCSA User Experience:

NCSA is optimized for the web. AIR is optimized for mobile applications.

NCSA’s website is easy to navigate and manage your profile from. However, their mobile app is outdated and lacks many of the features their web platform has.

AIR’s mobile app is very user-friendly which enables you to manage your recruiting from a smartphone. Their web platform is average, as the mobile application is what they emphasize users to use.

AIR User Experience:

The app AIR built has the 21st century feel. It’s like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tinder all combined in to one…but for just athletic recruiting. It definitely has a flair to it that will be appealing for student-athletes.

AIR’s platform is being treated as a consumer facing application whereas NCSA is an enterprise facing one.

Kid’s are on their phone constantly so I think that gives AIR a major advantage. They are able to connect with coaches on and app without having to get on the computer to manage their profile and messages.

3. Athletic Resume

NCSA Athletic Resume:

Recruiting coaches have to read hundreds to thousands of resumes every day during the recruiting season and it’s very easy for your information to get lost in a sea of other resumes.

NCSA offers some well thought out organizational tools for adding information to your profiles, which helps in the creation of your resumes.

NCSA provides both static and dynamic resumes. This is a great option for students who want to add that extra level of flair and style to their resumes and help their information stand out against their competitors.

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AIR Athletic Resume:

AIR has extensive options for creating your resume. You are able to customize it and get your all of your details verified through pictures, liaisons, and videos.

For example, if you go to a college combine you are able to upload all of the results to the app. This might be things such as height, weight, 40 yard dash, and vertical jump.

Within the recruiting resume, AIR also allows you to upload a PDF version of your academic transcript. This is something I have not seen on any other recruiting websites yet.

Both NCSA and AIR allow for the creation of a great athletic resume. AIR’s is a little more dynamic with the photo and video proof.

The most important thing is that you keep this information up to date so coaches can see your growth.

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4. Matching With College Coaches

NCSA Matching With Coaches:

NCSA’s paid features enable you to get matched up with a recruiting coach who helps determine the best fit for your talent level.

From there they recommend college coaches and send out generic messages promoting you.

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AIR Matching With Coaches:

AIR has taken the dating app approach and aims to “match” student-athletes with college coaches.

As a student-athlete you swipe right on Universities you’re interested in. College coaches do the same with student-athletes they’re interested in.

When both parties swipe right a match is created and messaging is enabled.

Coaches plug in their specific wants and needs in to AIR’s algorithm which helps match them with student-athletes. On the flip side, student-athletes put in filters to find universities that match with what they are looking for.

NCSA is more of a recruiting service, while AIR is a social platform bringing together all the key players in the recruiting process.

Both have their pros and cons depending on what you are looking for.

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5. Profile Information

NCSA Profile Information:

Profiles created through NCSA are simple and easy to look through.

You’re able to add your information, include highlight videos, images, contact information, and your dominant hand. This is all easily visible and displayed.

NCSA helps guide you through creating your profile and then arranges it in a neat order.

AIR Profile Information:

Creating a profile through AIR is just as simple, but might take a few extra minutes.

That is because their app has basically every measurable you could ever think of. The nice thing is that you can leave them blank if you don’t have the information or feel it is relevant.

AIR allows you to post photo and/or video proof along with your measurables, which is something college coaches like to see as a verification method.

You are able to add posts, highlight videos, links, contact info, measurables, transcripts, and more through AIR.

I would give a 10/10 for both AIR and NCSA on their profile information.

6. Pricing

NCSA Pricing:

NCSA makes it very clear what you get at each level of membership. As you can see from the list below, free access members are quite limited in what they can do. They have limited access to the amazing NCSA University, one free online class, and one group session with experts.

As you increase your rank from Champion to Elite to MVP, you gain more access to the website, with increasingly priority access to consultations as required. These features are all very excellent and interesting, but we take issue with one important factor.

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What do these services cost?

It’s easy to understand that one dollar sign means Champion costs less than MVP, but does that mean that you pay a single digit amount? While signing up for one of these services will make the costs clearer, this lack of transparency is a huge problem for parents who want to know what they are expected to pay.

Even when you consider the fact that it does report to offer great quality guides, and information about NCAA eligibility, the lack of transparency can be confusing. Upon further research the best package costs upwards of a $1700, but can vary depending on your financial situation.

Athletes in Recruitment Pricing:

AIR, as you might recall, is the LinkedIn x Dating App mix for college athletics recruiting. Their pricing is set up very similar to those models.

They offer a free version and an upgraded premium version. Upgrading your account gives you access to more features including analytics, unlimited swipes on college coaches, and the ability to add more liaisons.

You also gain access to their educational platform to help you optimize your accounts. It is all laid out in a clear and easy to understand way.

The premium upgrade is a monthly subscription cost of $20, which can be reduced through longer term plans.

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7. History

Both companies serve the college athletic recruiting niche, but in different ways.

Let’s take a look at their company statements

About NCSA:

NCSA was founded in the early 2000’s by former student-athletes and coaches who saw technology as a way to improve recruiting.

In 2000, NCSA became the first company to challenge the status quo and bring digital technology to the paper-based recruiting world.

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A year before the creation of YouTube, NCSA was the first to offer online highlight video access to college coaches. New technology and data also helped create a recruit match system that helps athletes determine their best college options.

One of NCSA’s strengths has always been its strong relationship with the college coach community. It’s a level of trust that has been built over time and maintained with performance. Today, there are more than 35,000 college coaches in our network.

But what really drives success for NCSA and its clients is the passionate team of former college coaches and athletes who use their firsthand knowledge and expertise to help athletes at every step in the recruiting process.

Since 2000, more than 200,000 NCSA clients have reported their commitment to a college team.

About AIR:

AIR was founded in 2020 by former student-athletes and college coaches who saw the emergence of virtual recruiting.

As former D1 athletes and college coaches, our founding team saw a gap and opportunity for growth in the recruiting process. We saw the pressure coaches faced to win, the immense life-changing value that a scholarship has on student athletes, and that recruiting and dating are fundamentally the same social science.

Both parties want what the other has and neither can be their best without the other. With this in mind, the solution became clear:

  • Provide coaches the ability to assess talent, any place at any time, all within 30 seconds on their phone
  • Give the student athlete the ability to tell their own story and control the narrative
  • Improve the out-of-date athletic recruiting landscape and bring it into the digital age

Be the one-stop-shop for college coaches, student-athletes, and liaisons.

8. Head-to-Head Breakdown: AIR vs NCSA

Both companies serve the college athletic recruiting niche, but in different ways.

NCSA has more than 780 employees and assists student-athletes in 34 sports.

AIR is fairly new, but claims to have thousands of users on the platform. They currently only serve American football, but their website says they plan to expand into every NCAA sport in the near future.

Pricing wise AIR is the clear winner. However, you’ll have to find a liaison on the app if you want 1-on-1 help.

AIR puts the powers in your hands as a student-athlete or parent, whereas NCSA kind of guides you to the level they feel is best suited.

NCSA’s web version is clean, but their app is outdated and hard to use. AIR is yet to release their web version, but the phone app is right up there with any of the top social media platforms.

NCSA’s free profile is very limited. AIR’s has a little more functionality. However, if you refer 3 teammates you can get a month of premium on AIR for free. Might be worth trying out.

Depending on your wants and needs each recruiting company serves their purpose. Re-read some of the paragraphs before making a decision.

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