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Official Visits

For seniors out there, you are now eligible to go on official visits.  Here is a list of some FAQs regarding the visits.

What is the definition of an official visit vs. unofficial visit?

By definition an Official visit is paid for by the college, an unofficial is paid for by you.  On an official visit the NCAA allows a school to pay for lodging, transportation, meals, and entertainment.  So that includes airfare, rental car, and 3 meals a day.  But please be aware that the school is NOT allowed to pay for your parents.  The school may only pay for expenses related to the student-athlete.  So for example, if you and your parents stay in a hotel the coach is able to pay for it.  If you stay overnight with a member of the team on campus, the coach may not pay for your parents hotel. Official visits cannot be made until the opening day of class senior year.  So, that date will be different depending on your school.  The NCAA allows 5 visits to D1 and D2 schools combined.  You are allowed an unlimited number of unofficial visits to all divisions.  You may only take ONE official visit per institution.  Each official visit may be up to 48 hrs.

Are all D1 & D2 schools able to offer official visits?

No.  Please remember that each school differs in policy.  Just because official visits are allowed by the NCAA, does not mean each school offers them.  You should always ask the coach.

Can you visit a D3 school officially?

There is a common misconception that D3 schools do not offer official visits because they do not offer athletic scholarships.  Fortunately, that is false!  You are allowed an unlimited number of official visits to NAIA & D3 schools.  Unfortunately, D3 schools tend to have a limited recruiting budget and therefore aren’t usually able to offer paid airfare, hotel, etc…Some D3 schools do not offer official visits at all.  It’s a case by case basis.

What does it mean if the coach doesn’t offer an official during senior year?

They could be interested.  You are not likely a top recruit if it’s a D2 or D1 school as a general rule.  Always ask questions and find out where you are on the recruiting list before visiting a school.  Also ask what the schools policy is on official visits.  Many schools are not fully-funded enough to provide airfare, but will offer to pay for meals and lodging.  If they do, that IS an official visit.  Always clarify with the coach whether it’s an official and unofficial.

Are student-athletes allowed to tryout or practice with the team?

As an NCAA rule, D1 and D3 schools do not allow tryouts.  On an official or unofficial visit you may participate in workouts that are not organized or observed by coaching staff.  They must not be designed to test your athletic ability though.  D2 schools are allowed to conduct one tryout in the off-season of your sport.

Are there any times when visits are not allowed?

Yes.  There is a Dead Period in which it is not permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts or evaluations on- or off-campus or permit official or unofficial visits.  Dead periods generally fall right before the singing periods.  The dead periods for this school year are December 22nd-January 1st, January 12th-15th, and February 2nd-5th.  Don’t setup visits at this time.

When should visits be scheduled?

You should be trying to schedule visits right away.  The best time to make visits is between now and the initial signing date. September, October, and November are generally great months to take those.  Remember that December and Early January are often times when coaches are on winter vacation.  Then early next year is also a good time (Feb-March).

Should a student-athlete bring up a visit or wait until a coach offers an official?

You should always bring it up!  Many NCSA athletes are far ahead of others in the recruiting game.  You should really let the coaches know what YOUR recruiting timeline is.  This is your recruiting experience and college choice, you have every right to inquire about how it’s going to work.

How do these students and parents schedule these visits?

The key to setting up visits is coordinating with the coach.  You must call or email the coach to inform him or her that you are coming to campus and would like to set up a meeting.  Always contact the coach well in advance. If you do not let a coach know about your visit you are not maximizing your time and you will miss out on opportunities.

I recommend sending an introduction email, then follow-up with a phone call to the coach.  If you already have a relationship with the coach it should be easy.  Just ask, “Coach, I am narrowing down my visit choices and would like to come to your school.  Are you offering an official visit at this time?” or if you have not spoken to the coach:

I am in the process of narrowing down my college visit choices, and would like to clarify a few things. First, let me say that I am very interested in (school name), because (research). I would be very excited for a chance to come visit (school name). I am dedicated to finding the right fit and have done the research on my end.  (School name) offers (academic, athletic, social, fact that interests you).

(IF Senior) Am I of the caliber that you would consider to offer a visit? If so, when are you offering your official visits? (IF Sophomore or Junior) I understand the dead periods for this year are December 22nd-January 1st, January 12th-15th, and February 2nd-5th.  So, besides those times, when would be a good time for me to meet you? Possibly for a game, I see you are playing (other team name) on the (date).Would that be a good date?

I truly appreciate your feedback and hope to hear from you soon!

You Name and Info

What should people bring?

Here is a quick checklist:



List of questions you have

Contact Person’s info (especially on a game day visit)

Itinerary (if provided)

Copies of Film (1-3 DVDS should suffice)


Profile (printed out version)


Collared Shirt, nice jeans or khakis

No jewelry

Clean shaven

No Hats/Hoodies/Letterman Jackets (everyone is going to have them on, and you want to separate yourself from the pack)

Look the coach in the eye, when you give them a firm handshake

What exactly do you do on a visit?

Tour the Campus, meet with the coach, meet the players, tour the facilities, meet with admissions, possibly attend an athletic event, possibly stay overnight with a player.  If possible, I recommend staying overnight with a player.  It will give you the best overall feel for the school and the opportunity to speak with someone who has been in your shoes!

Here is a sample itinerary

Friday, January 15

3:37 p.m. Arrive at City Metro Airport on Flight #1111.

4:45 Check into the Campus Hotel – Home of the Hawks.

4:30-7:30 Welcome Reception at Campus Hotel. Meet your host, Joe Smith.

6:30 Dinner at Main Street Station with Coach Jackson and Joe Smith.

After dinner, free time with Joe.

Saturday, January 16

8:00 a.m. Wake-up call.

9:00 Breakfast at new Chemistry Building Atrium with Hawk coaches.

10:00 Academic Presentation at Student Auditorium – by John Harris,

Assistant Athletic Director of Academic Services.

10:30 Meet with Helen Thompson, Professor of Business Administration,

School of Business.

12:15 p.m. Lunch at Student Union with Hawk Football Staff.

2:00 Hawk vs. Lions basketball game in Smith Arena.

4:30 Tour Game Day Center and Hall of Legends.

6:30 Reception at Game Day Center with Hawk Football Staff.

7:00 Dinner served in Hall of Legends Commons.

After dinner, free time with Joe.

Sunday, January 17

8:00 a.m. Wake-up call.

*Church is available if you wish. We will help you get to Church.

8:30-11:00 Join staff for Brunch at Hall of Legends Commons.

Clear up any unfinished business.

11:15 Leave campus for the airport.

12:15 p.m. Depart City Metro Airport on Flight #1114, after visiting

the Nation’s top academic and athletic University.

The college you are visiting may compete against another university that is recruiting you. Don’t worry, this is a good thing. Being up front with both coaches should avoid any uncomfortable situations.

What should they be looking for on a visit to determine whether the school is a good fit?

When you’re on a visit make sure you get along with everyone and you feel that you will be able to have a good relationship with them. This is why asking questions and being proactive is so important. You will need to talk with these coaches and open communication lines now to help determine which schools will be the best fit for your needs and personality. Make sure your future teammates on the team seem friendly, fun, and that you will be able to make friends with them too! Make sure to see how they interact with the coaches. Do they get along, do they have fun, do they respect them?  These factors are the MOST IMPORTANT when on a visit. You should be able to see the positive interactions between the coaches and the players. These people will become your family for the next four yours, and hopefully the rest of your life.  Look at it this way, if you get sick, hurt, or something happens in your life–they will be there for you. Visit with players.  Talk with freshmen and sophomores to get their perspective on first-year experiences. Take notes regarding your visit.  Focus on: names and titles of people you meet, conditions of facilities and equipment, impressions, policies.

What questions are appropriate to ask?

Ask questions that you help you determine whether or not the school is a good fit.  Don’t spend too much time on questions the website can answer.  For example don’t ask “what is the enrollment at —? Do ask “Coach, where do you see me fitting in with your team?”

Will a coach ask you to commit?

As a senior, the coach will show what they have to offer and will most likely give you an offer at the end of the trip.  That could be an athletic offer or other types of aid.  They may ask you to verbally commit, but you do not need to commit on a visit.  You can turn them down, give them your verbal, or ask for more time to go home and consider all their options and other opportunities from other schools.  You should try to take all five official visits, or see as many as you can to make the best decision.  Always ask the coach how long the offer is on the table or if they are going to offer someone else.

What should they do after the visit?

Always write a thank-you letter to the coach after your visit!

About the author
Aaron Sorenson


  • I have a daughter that has received an Official Visit request from one D1 Field Hockey School St. Louis Univ, and she has also been told by another D1 Head Coach from a different school (Pacific) that she is on their top 10 list for recruits and that a probable Official visit to that school will be coming in the near future. St. Louis gave my daughter 4 dates between September and October to choose from (Classroom Visit, Team Practice, and Home game. The best date for our family would be when St. Louis hosts a non-league game against Pacific.

    Since Pacific is the opponent and a team that has indicated strong interest, although they have not yet given the Official Visit request to my daughter, is this a good or bad thing if they see my daughter while she is on her Official visit for St Louis? My daughter knows the Pacific coaching staff and many players very well, and is sure to be noticed, or cross paths.

    What would be the etiquette for this situation, so that you don’t burn any bridges with either school?

    Can / or should my daughter try to avoid the Pacific Staff and players?
    If she runs into them on St. Louis’s campus the day before the game, or on gameday, can she or should she say hello or talk to the Pacific coaching staff of players. either my daughter approaching them, or if they approach her?

    My daughter corresponds regularly with both coaches, is it OK to let the Pacific Head coach know that my daughter will be in St. Louis on an official visit and will be watching when Pacific plays against St. Louis?

    Should she discuss the fact that Pacific is also recruiting her with the St. Louis head coach if asked, or should she mention it to the St. Louis Head coach before or anytime during the visit?

    As you can tell I’m a rookie when it comes to all of this college juggling, and would this situation drive up my daughters value to both schools, or have a possible negative effect.

    David Young (Daughter is member Aubrey Young Gilroy, CA)

  • Hi David: Great questions and it’s great that Aubrey is receiving this high level interest. Since you’re daughter is enrolled, you have immediate access to our Recruiting Coach team who will answer all of those questions. You can get to them through Aubrey’s Recruiting Management System Toolbox where there is an ‘instant-messaging” function. You can call on the toll-free hotline which you received when she enrolled. You can also email that help desk line, and they’ll answer those questions. I’ve sent you the email and phone number to you in an email. Good luck!