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2020–21 NCAA Field Hockey Recruiting Rules and Calendar

Every year the NCAA releases recruiting rules and a calendar that work as guides to the recruiting process for both college coaches and student-athletes. These rules are set in place to protect the well-being of student-athletes and allow for a fair recruiting environment. In May 2019, the NCAA updated the recruiting rules and guidelines to slow down the recruiting process. In a study conducted by the NCAA in 2017, field hockey was among the sports with the earliest recruiting, with 70 percent of D1 field hockey players reporting their first contact with a college coach before their junior year. This page details the new rules and looks at the specific recruiting rules and calendar for NCAA field hockey.

READ MORE: NCAA’s new rules will grant student-athletes the opportunity to earn money from their name, image and likeness (NIL).

What to understand about the NCAA field hockey recruiting rules and calendar

While the NCAA prohibits contact between college coaches and student-athletes until after June 15 of the athlete’s sophomore year, the recruiting process is known to start as early as 8th grade. From field hockey early recruiting to National Signing Day, below is a look at the college field hockey recruiting process. 

  1. Early recruiting: Before college coaches can contact field hockey recruits, they dedicate a good deal of time to attending tournaments, college camps and showcases to evaluate athletes and build a list of prospective recruits. College coaches also connect with high school and club coaches to express interest in an athlete but can no longer extend verbal offers.
  2. Contact and verbal offers: College coaches can begin making verbal offers to athletes starting June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year.
  3. Official and unofficial visits: Student-athletes and their families can schedule official and unofficial visits beginning August 1 of the athlete’s junior year. During these visits, they can have recruiting conversations on campus with college coaches.
  4. National Signing Day: November 11, 2020, is National Signing Day, kicking off a 10-month time period when student-athletes can sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to officially accept their athletic scholarship. National Signing Day dates can be found on the NLI website.

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New NCAA field hockey recruiting rules

In May 2019, the NCAA released new Division 1 recruiting rules that separated the time in which college coaches can begin communicating with field hockey recruits and when student-athletes can begin visiting college campuses. In doing so, the NCAA created a designated time for coaches and athletes to build a relationship via phone calls and digital communication prior to the student-athlete’s official campus visit. 

Between June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year and August 1 of their junior year, field hockey coaches and athletes can focus on their relationship by communicating over the phone, text and email. Starting August 1, student-athletes can begin to schedule unofficial and official visits to meet with coaches on campus. 

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When can field hockey coaches contact field hockey recruits? 

Starting June 15 of the student-athlete’s sophomore year, NCAA Division 1 and 2 college field hockey coaches may begin contacting recruits via phone, text and email. Before this date, no form of communication is permitted between college coaches and student-athletes. College coaches are still permitted to contact high school and club coaches for general feedback, but these conversations cannot include financial offers, recruiting statements, etc. Digital communication is permitted between Division 3 college coaches and field hockey recruits at any time.

Before June 15 of their sophomore year, student-athletes can begin to prepare for the recruiting process. This preparation includes building a recruiting profile, capturing footage for a highlight video and researching programs they are interested in. This legwork will help better position student-athletes for a successful recruitment experience.

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NCAA Division 1 field hockey recruiting rules 

NCAA Division 1 programs must adhere to the strictest recruiting rules. These rules vary from sport to sport, and here are the details specific to field hockey:

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NCAA Division 2 field hockey recruiting rules

NCAA Division 2 programs enjoy less restrictive recruiting rules than Division 1 programs. These recruiting rules apply to all Division 2 programs:

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NCAA Division 3 field hockey recruiting rules

NCAA Division 3 schools have the most relaxed NCAA recruiting rules. Just like Division 2 programs, all Division 3 sports adhere to the same recruiting rules:

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2020–21 field hockey recruiting calendar 

The NCAA releases a recruiting calendar and guidelines each year that dictate when and how college coaches can recruit student-athletes. Many NCAA sports have a recruiting calendar that lists numerous dead periods, quiet periods, contact periods and evaluation periods. Field hockey is an exception and only has one of these periods—a dead period. Starting June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year, Division 1 and 2 college coaches are free to begin communicating with recruits, aside from during the one dead period.

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NCAA field hockey dead periods

Dead periods: During this time, college coaches are prohibited from any in-person contact with recruits or their parents. The only form of contact between athletes and coaches that is permitted during dead periods is digital communication via phone, email, social media, etc. 

Division 1

Starting on June 15 after their sophomore year, student-athletes are free to communicate with college coaches, with the expectation of one dead period listed on the NCAA field hockey recruiting calendar.

Division 2

Division 2 field hockey has one dead period on the NCAA field hockey recruiting calendar. Outside of this dead period, student-athletes may communicate with coaches, as long as it’s after June 15 of their sophomore year.

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National Signing Day for field hockey

More than 650 NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 programs use the National Letter of Intent (NLI). This letter serves as a binding agreement between student-athletes and the institution to guarantee an athletic scholarship for one year and ends the student-athlete’s recruiting process. Student-athletes are not guaranteed a scholarship all four years and will need to check with the school to see if their scholarship will be renewed following their first year. Student-athletes can visit the National Letter of Intent website to learn when National Signing Day is each year.

National Signing Day: Nov. 11, 2020

Final signing date: Aug. 1, 2021

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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.

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