NCAA baseball recruiting rules regulate the way college coaches can recruit athletes throughout the year. It’s up to the coach to follow these recruiting rules, and it’s up to the family to familiarize themselves with the rules so they know what to expect throughout the process. The better families understand the NCAA baseball recruiting rules, the more smoothly they can execute their recruiting game plan. For example, recruits want to avoid planning their campus visits during a dead period, as the coach will not be able to meet with them during that time. What makes for the best baseball camp?
NCAA-member schools established recruiting rules to level the playing field for colleges who might not have the resources of some of the bigger and more popular schools. These rules spell out who is allowed to be involved in the recruiting process, when recruiting may occur and the conditions under which recruiting can be conducted, according to the NCAA website. These rules seek, “as much as possible, to control intrusions into the lives of student-athletes.”
One of the most frequent questions we get is, “When can college baseball coaches talk to me?” The answer is that it depends on the division level. Division 1 coaches cannot contact athletes before September 1 of their junior year. Phone calls, texts and emails from Division 2 coaches can begin June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year. There are no restrictions regarding phone calls from coaches at the Division 3, NAIA and NJCAA levels, but typically they wait until an athlete’s junior year. Learn more about AAU baseball and college baseball recruiting.
Student-athletes are allowed to call or email a college coach at any time, but NCAA baseball recruiting rules restrict when and how a coach can respond.
While the NCAA baseball recruiting rules and calendar dictate when and how athletes can be contacted by college coaches, recruits still get offers as underclassmen. In a recent NCAA study, 46% of DI prospects reported having their first recruiting contact with a DI coach before their junior year. If the NCAA recruiting rules prohibit a college coach from contacting a recruit before their junior year, how can coaches extend an offer before then? In these cases, a college coach will most likely have worked with a recruit’s travel or high school coach. Because athletes can contact a college coach any time, the athlete’s current coach will set up a time for the athlete to call the college coach.
In April 2018, the NCAA instituted new Division 1 baseball recruiting rules to cut back on the growing number of early offers coaches extend to recruits.
Official visits: Student-athletes can begin taking official visits beginning Sept. 1 of their high school junior year. Previously, official visits were not allowed until the recruit’s senior year.
Unofficial visits: College athletic departments—including coaches—are not permitted to be involved in a student-athlete’s unofficial visits prior to Sept. 1 of their high school junior year. Before the rule change, underclassmen could take advantage of an unofficial visit to possibly get an early verbal scholarship offer. Under the current rules, should a recruit happen to come into contact with a coach on campus during an unofficial visit, no recruiting conversations can take place.
Camps: Recruiting conversations are forbidden between recruits and college coaches during camps prior to Sept. 1 of the athlete’s junior year of high school. Before this new rule, coaches and underclassmen were not prohibited from talking about recruiting. There was nothing to stop coaches from extending a verbal scholarship offer to recruits.
According to the NCAA these rule changes were made to give prospective student-athletes more time to consider their college choice and avoid the pressures of early recruitment. The goal is for students to concentrate on their grades, take their ACTs or SATs, continue to grow as an athlete, research their target schools and maximize their high school experience.
The 2018 rule change hasn’t impacted the recruiting process for baseball players very much. The new rules make it clear the student-athlete must stay proactive in their recruiting journey and do their research up front. We strongly recommend that by Sept. 1 of their high school junior year, recruits create their list of target schools, build their NCSA Recruiting Profile, produce their skills video and begin reaching out to college coaches. This will help recruits get on coaches’ radars, so they can hit the ground running come September 1.
The NCAA baseball recruiting rules for Division 1 schools are the most regulated and strict of the college division levels. Specific forms of communication from coaches are allowed depending on your year in high school.
September 1 of junior year
July 1 before senior year
NCAA baseball recruiting rules for Division 2 schools are less restrictive than those for Division 1 schools. Coach communication, off-campus contact and official visits can begin June 15 after sophomore year.
In comparison to Division 1 and Division 2 schools, Division 3 schools have the most relaxed NCAA baseball recruiting rules.
Unlike the NCAA, the NAIA does not regulate or limit the contact and communication between a coach and a current high school athlete, nor does it regulate campus visits and tryouts.
Junior college coaches are free to contact prospective student-athletes at any time provided they have not signed a junior college letter of intent. There is no baseball recruiting calendar.
The official visit is a major step in the recruiting process. An invitation to visit a college campus generally means that coaches consider visitors as top recruits. Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions about official visits:
What makes a visit official?
A school visit is considered official if all or part of the trip is paid for by the institution.
How many official visits can a player have?
A recruit can make only one official visit per school and five official visits in total to NCAA baseball Division 1 schools. Visits to Division 2 and Division 3 schools are unlimited.
Do most parents attend official visits?
Yes, parents are invited, and the school can pay for their round-trip transportation, three meals per day and tickets to a home game. We recommend that parents be there for support but let the athlete take the lead in asking questions. Coaches generally will include parents in the proceedings and will have questions for them, particularly about scholarships and finances.
What do you do on an official visit?
Generally, an official visit will include a campus tour with the opportunity to attend a class, visit on- and off-campus housing, eat in the cafeteria and meet the coach’s staff and team members.
Contact period: College coaches may have in-person contact with student-athletes and their parents on or off campus. Coaches may also visit their high school or watch them compete. Campus visits by the recruit and their parents are also allowed. Coaches may write and phone during this period:
Dead period: At no time may a college coach have in-person contact on or off campus with student-athletes and/or their parents. The coach may write or telephone during this period:
Quiet period: A college coach is not allowed to have any in-person contact with a student-athlete or their parents off the college campus. They also may not watch them compete or visit their high school. Coaches may write or telephone during this period and student-athletes and their parents may visit a college campus during this time:
Treat all dates that are not part of the dead period as a contact period.
Dead period: At no time may a college coach have in-person contact on or off campus with student-athletes or their parents. The coach may write or telephone during this period.
For D3 schools, there are no dead periods. The contact period is effectively year-round.
The NAIA and junior colleges do not regulate contact and communication for coaches. There is no recruiting calendar for either.
Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.