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NCAA Football Recruiting Rules and Calendar: When Can College Football Coaches Contact You?

When student-athletes start the recruiting process, one of their first questions is: “When can college coaches contact high school athletes?” For Division 1 football, college coaches can start reaching out to recruits September 1 of their junior year of high school via all electronic communications, which includes texting, emailing and social media direct messages. D2 coaches can reach out to recruits starting June 15 before the athlete’s junior year via electronic communications, recruiting materials, phone calls and in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts. D3 and NAIA coaches don’t have any restrictions on when they can begin contacting recruits, but they generally wait until around junior year unless a recruit is reaching out to them and showing interest in their school.

The NCAA football recruiting rules and calendar outline when and how college coaches can reach out to athletes. These rules are in place to protect elite athletes from getting overwhelming amounts of contact from college coaches. However, they can be a little misleading as they don’t accurately represent when recruiting really starts for football. At the D1 and higher level D2 programs, coaches are scouting recruits as young as 8th grade or freshman year of high school to ensure that they lock down top talent before their competition. For D3 and NAIA schools, coaches start a little later, scouting for athletes in their junior year and extending the majority of their offers late junior year or early senior year of high school.

How can you use the NCAA football recruiting rules and calendar in your recruiting?

Families can use the NCAA football recruiting rules and NCAA football recruiting calendar to make sure they’re on track in their recruiting. For example, if it’s December 1 of the athlete’s junior year of high school, they can receive emails, texts and DMs from D1, D2, D3 and NAIA coaches. If they haven’t heard from any coaches at this point, they know you have some work to do to get on their radar! The recruiting calendar is also a good way for athletes and their coaches to organize their recruiting efforts for the year. For example, if an athlete is a senior in high school during a contact period, they should arrange campus visits and maximize coach contact during this time.

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NCAA Division 1 football recruiting rules

D1 football coaches can send athletes recruiting questionnaires, camp brochures and non-athletic institutional publications freshman and sophomore year. Most other contact begins September 1 of the athlete’s junior year, according to the NCAA football recruiting rules.

  • September 1 of junior year: Athletes can receive any form of private, electronic communication. This includes emails, recruiting materials, texts and direct messages on social media.
  • April 1 through Sunday before the last Wednesday in June of junior year: Athletes can take one official visit as long as it is not taken in conjunction with their participation in the college’s camps or clinics.
  • April 15 through May 31 of junior year: NCAA recruiting rules mandate that, during this time, coaches can call athletes one time. Additional calls can be made after September 1 of the athlete’s senior year.
  • July 1 going into senior year: Coaches can contact athletes off-campus, but only during the contact periods. Coaches are only allowed six off-campus contacts with each student-athlete.
  • First day of classes senior year: Athletes can take official visits, using a maximum of five.
  • September 1 of senior year: Coaches can call athletes once a week after this time, and they can call recruits unlimited times during the contact period.
  • During athletes’ senior year: Coaches can evaluate each recruit once during September, October and November. They can conduct a total of two evaluations per athlete (one to determine an athlete’s athletic ability and the other to determine academic qualifications) between April 15 and May 31.
  • Evaluation days: Coaches can evaluate each recruiting three times. They can take one evaluation per recruit in the fall, and then two evaluations from April 15 to May 31.
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NCAA Division 2 Football Recruiting Rules

The NCAA football recruiting rules for Division 2 football schools are slightly more relaxed than those for Division 1, and they are the same across all sports:

  • Any time: Athletes can receive brochures for camps, recruiting questionnaires, NCAA materials and non-athletic recruiting publications at any time.
  • June 15 junior year: Athletes can begin taking official visits. Coaches can also communicate with recruits electronically (via private texts, social media DMs, instant messages, etc.). Athletes are able to receive calls from coaches, and coaches can conduct in-person, off-campus recruiting contact. Finally, after this date, coaches can approach a recruit’s coach at a competition (game, camp, etc.) throughout the contact periods.
  • Evaluations: Coaches are not restricted in how many times they can evaluate a student-athlete at the D2 level. Coaches just have to make sure that they don’t communicate with the recruits until their practice/competition has ended and they’ve been released by their coach or the proper authority.
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NCAA Division 3 and NAIA football recruiting rules

D3 and NAIA colleges are generally left to create their own recruiting rules and schedules. They don’t have limits on when coaches can contact recruits. The only standardized rule for D3 schools is that coaches are not allowed to meet with recruits or their families off-campus until the athlete has completed their sophomore year of high school.

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2018-2019 Division 1 and Division 2 NCAA football recruiting calendar

Throughout the school year, specific types of contact with college coaches are permitted during certain times at the D1 and D2 level. Layer the recruiting calendar on top of the recruiting rules to determine what type of contact to expect based on your age and the time of year.

Dead Period: During the dead period, coaches may not have any in-person contact with recruits and/or their parents. They are not allowed to talk to recruits at their college campus, the athlete’s school, an athletic camp or even the grocery store.

  • Division 1 FBS: Aug. 1-31, 2018 (except: the 48 hours prior to a home game during August and September 1-2 through the 48 hours after the game can be treated as a quiet period); Dec. 17, 2018 – Jan. 10, 2019; Feb. 4-7, 2019; June 24 – July 24, 2019
  • Division 1 FCS: Aug. 1-31, 2018 (except: the 48 hours prior to a home game during August and September 1-2 through the 48 hours after the game can be treated as a quiet period); Dec. 17, 2018 – Jan. 10, 2019; Feb. 4-7, 2019
  • Division 2: 7 am Dec. 17 – 7 am Dec. 19, 2018 (only for two-year prospective athletes who intend to enroll mid-year); Jan. 7-9, 2019; 7 am Feb. 4 – 7 am Feb. 6, 2019

Quiet Period: The quiet period is a time you can talk to college coaches in-person on their college campus. However, the coach is not allowed to watch athletes compete in-person, visit their school, talk to them at their home—or talk to them anywhere outside of the college campus.

  • Division 1 FBS: During August and September 1-2, 2018 the 48 hours prior to a home game through the 48 hours after the game can be treated as a quiet period; Sept. 1 – Nov. 24, 2018; Dec. 16, 2018; Jan. 4-6, 2019 (only for National Service Academies); Feb. 3, 2019; Feb. 8 – April 14, 2019; all days in April and May not used for evaluations are quiet periods; June 1 – June 23, 2019; July 25 – July 31, 2019
  • Division 1 FCS: During August and September 1-2, 2018 the 48 hours prior to a home game through the 48 hours after the game can be treated as a quiet period; Sept. 1 – Nov. 24, 2018; Dec. 16, 2018 (for all junior college prospective student-athletes who intend to enroll mid-year); Feb. 3, 2019; Feb. 8 – April 14, 2019; all days from April 15 – May 31, 2019 not used for evaluation are considered part of the quiet period; June 1 – July 31, 2019
  • Division 2: June 1 – start of recruit’s first regularly scheduled football practice; March 13 – May 31, 2019 (except for the date treated as part of the evaluation period)

Evaluation Period: This is a specific time of year when college coaches are allowed to watch an athlete compete in person or visit their school. However, coaches are not allowed to communicate with that athlete (or their parents) off the college campus. 

  • Division 1 FBS and FCS: Coaches can take 42 evaluation days during September, October and November; April 15 – May 31, 2019 except for Memorial Day and Sundays
  • Division 2: During the recruit’s high school or two-year college football season, based on the first regularly scheduled practice before the start of the regular season; November 1-30, 2018; April 15 – May 31, 2019 (except: Memorial Days, Sundays, and the four weeks each member school designates as an evaluation period)

Contact Period: The NCAA contact period is exactly what it sounds like—all communication between athletes and coaches is fair game. In other words, the communication floodgates are open, so take advantage of this opportunity to get unlimited access to coaches.

  • Division 1 FBS and FCS: Nov. 25, 2018 – Feb. 2, 2019 (except days named as part of the dead or quiet period): Each student-athlete can have six in-person, off-campus contacts with college coaches. Athletes cannot meet with a specific college coach more than once a week (Sunday through Saturday).
  • Division 2: For two-year college prospects, the conclusion of the last regularly scheduled football game through November 31, 2018 is a contact period; Nov. 26, 2018 – March 12, 2019 (except: the dates part of the dead period)

Insider tip: While it’s always helpful to be familiar with the NCAA recruiting rules and calendar, it’s really up to the college coaches to comply with the rules. As an athlete, you can email, call or DM a coach at any time. It’s the coach’s responsibility to check the rules before he responds.

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