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The Truth About Official Visits

Official College Visits

Before I jump into the FAQs, I wanted to point out that understanding official visits is critical for student-athletes of ALL ages, not just seniors!

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 the family.  On an official visit, the NCAA allows a school to pay for lodging, transportation, meals, and entertainment.  That includes airfare, rental car, and three meals a day.  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.  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.  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?

As a general rule, you are not likely a top recruit if it’s a D1 or D2 school.  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.

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.

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.

Next week I will explain how to set up official visits and provide an example itinerary of what recruits should expect!  If are a senior and have not yet taken an official vist or even spoken with a coach about the potential, click here.  If you are an underclassmen who would like to put yourself in the best possible position to be offered official vistis when you are a senior, click here.

About the author
Aaron Sorenson


  • Is it an official visit if you are offered tickets to a game but no other reimbursement? (food, lodging, etc)

  • No, on an unofficial visit the coach is allowed to provide up to 3 tickets to any sporting event, as long as it is under $100. If the coach does this, it does not designate an official.

  • How do long snappers get official visits and scholarships? My son is being recruited heavily by an SEC D1 school for long snapping. They have mentioned an official visit but have not set it up yet. We did go over and attend a practice and have gone to a few ball games. Now we are hearing they do not give scholarships to long snappers for the first year. How can we negotiate a scholarship?

  • If a Letter of Intent is offered and singed, but the student changes his/her mind and goes to another school what are the results??? Will this hurt their opportunities at the other university???

  • Does a coach wait until you have been accepted academically to the school before conducting an official visit?

  • William: For football, coaches are allowed to make evaluations for Juniors (2011s) between April 15th-May31st.
    Randy: LS do not typically get scholarships there first year, especially the first year, coming right from HS (rather than JUCO). The best advice I would say is to try to leverage some of the lower level (D2) financial aid money you receive, and let the D1 school know if it comes down to it you have to worry about the family so you are going to go to the school that is giving you money.
    Kathyrn: It depends on if you transfer down, up, lateral. If you transfer down (i.e. go from D1 to D2 there is no penalty), any other transfer (D1-D1) you incur a 1 year penalty.
    Scott: No you do not, but you must be registered with the clearinghouse, and have filled out the amaeturism questionaire

  • I have two questions about the recruting process, those being…
    1) How do you find out where you are on the recruting list?
    2) Should I wait until a college is looking for me, or email the coach about an official visit?

  • 1) Call and ask the coach
    2) I would ask the coach about the official, regardless, the worst that can happen is the coach says no, and you are back where you started

  • Where and how do we register for the clearinghouse and fill out the amaeturism questionnaire?

  • Are you allowed to take an official visit to any college you want regardless if if the coach has any intrest in you what so ever? or are you only allowed to schedule one if the coach invites you?

  • @Nolan- No, you cannot take an official just because you want to. You can ask the coach if an official visit is a possibility, he does not have to directly ask you first.

  • My daughter was invited to an official visit for basketball. The school covered all our expenses. She did the workout with the team. But on the last day we talked to the coach, he did’nt make her an offer and told us he would let us know around Oct. 15th because he had some more recruits. What does this mean. It doesn’t make sense to spend all that money and time on someone you wasn’t interested. Please help me with this.

  • Please answer this for me. If a kid is a minor and sets up his/her official paid visit is the school suppose to pay for the parents airfare so they can accompany him/her? I understand if the kid is 18 on the trip they may not pay for that but for a minor what is the actual rule?

  • If I am at a Community College and going to graduate this year, do the same rules of official visits apply to me as they would a senior in high school or are they different?