Since he goes to Harvard, it's fair to assume he is bright.
However, say hypothetically he was just a solid student at an above average university. Would his eligibility and ability to contribute to whatever team he is looking at make any difference for graduate school?
In other words, can coaches recruit for grad students in a way that could help them get into a program that they are qualified for but not a slam dunk to get into? For undergrad, recruiting can go a long way in helping athletes (including runners) get into schools that may otherwise be above their range. I know that this includes the Ivy League as well, so does this carry over to any degree for grad school?