NCAA Division I Field Hockey recruiting faces another major rule change, effective today, May 1, 2019. This rule does not effect Division 2 and Division 3 recruiting. (see the NCAA’s full release below)
The new rule creates a phased-in recruiting approach that will allow coaches to build relationships with prospective student-athletes through phone calls and other types of communication before allowing for visits and off-campus contact. Previously, coaches and players did not have a designated window of time to build a relationship prior to campus visits being allowed.
Although these new rules actually allow for some earlier communication and campus visits, the NCAA’s overall goal in this initiative is to curb early recruiting.
THE NEW RULES EXPLAINED (to the best of our understanding):
- No communication with a coach until June 15th of the student-athletes sophomore year
- Communication = any incoming or outgoing phone, text, email between a student-athlete or parent/guardian and a Division I college coach
- College coaches will be allowed to directly initiate communications with recruits (and recruits will be allowed to inititiate contact with college coaches) starting on June 15 at the end of the player’s sophomore year. Division I college coaches are not allowed to have any kind of recruiting conversation with a student-athlete or parent/guardian prior to this deadline. They can’t make a verbal offer, scholarship offer or help with admissions or other forms of financial aid.
- Previously coaches couldn’t initiate contact with a recruit, but the recruit could contact the coach and they could pick up the phone
- College coaches may still have correspondences with the student-athlete’s high school or club coach, but it must be to get general feedback on a player and cannot include official recruiting statements or conversations (i.e. financial offers, stating that a player is a top recruit, etc.).
- No official or unofficial visits or off-campus contact until August 1st of the student-athletes junior year
- Student-athletes will now be able to make unofficial and official visits to campus a month earlier than previously allowed. Recruiting visits will now be allowed starting on August 1 for students entering their junior year of high school, instead of having to wait until September 1. The same for off-campus contact with a coach.
For freshman and sophomore student-athletes who have already verbally/unofficially committed to a Division I program and were offered some sort of a scholarship or place on a team, they will no longer be able to discuss these offers with the coach until June 15th after their sophomore year.
Changes more closely align with college decision timeline for student body
A student-athlete’s college search will more closely align with that of the general student body under new rules adopted this week by the Division I Council.
Designed to curb early recruiting, the rules were approved during the Council’s meeting Thursday and Friday in Indianapolis.
The changes are the second phase of an emphasis on early recruiting prioritized by the Division I Board of Directors in its strategic areas of emphasis adopted last year. The process also has been informed by the NCAA Presidential Forum’s principles to guide recruitment. Both the board and the forum emphasized supporting student-athletes’ and prospects’ overall well-being.
This week’s changes mark the second consecutive year that Division I adopted rules intended to curb early recruiting. The new rules address early recruiting in sports other than football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse and softball and create a separate structure for men’s ice hockey recruiting.
The rule that applies to most sports creates a phased-in recruiting approach that allows coaches to build relationships with prospective student-athletes through phone calls and other types of communication before allowing for visits and off-campus contact. The early recruiting review was undertaken by a subcommittee of the Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee, and the committee will continue to work on regulating verbal scholarship offers.
Justin Sell, athletics director at South Dakota State and chair of the Student-Athlete Experience Committee, said the changes resulted from close collaboration with both student-athletes and coaches associations.
“We feel strongly that it’s an incredible enhancement to our current situation and how students are being recruited,” Sell said. “At the end of the day, these changes will eliminate students in the ninth grade and younger being recruited while still providing access to our campuses early enough to make informed financial and educational decisions on where to go for college.”
The proposal for most sports would allow communication — either from or to a coach — June 15 after the sophomore year of high school and would allow visits beginning Aug. 1 before the junior year of high school.
The men’s ice hockey recruiting model allows telephone calls, text messages and other similar contact as well as unofficial visits to begin Jan. 1 of a prospective student-athlete’s sophomore year in high school. Official visits, verbal offers and other off-campus contacts are permitted beginning Aug. 1 before the junior year in high school.
The committee decided to create the alternative process for men’s ice hockey after extensive collaboration with the Hockey Commissioners Association. This proposal recognizes the unique professional opportunities available in the sport and allows prospective student-athletes to make informed decisions regarding the opportunity to pursue collegiate or professional hockey.
The Student-Athlete Experience Committee is continuing to review and collaborate with coaches on an appropriate early recruiting model for baseball and anticipates rule changes in spring 2020. Some sports, such as lacrosse and softball, recently changed their recruiting models to prevent early recruiting and didn’t want to change their dates again, so those were removed from the proposal. Basketball and football did extensive studies of their recruiting models and revised them in recent years.
The recruiting proposals will become effective at the close of the Division I Board of Directors meeting May 1.