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.