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2019-20 NCAA Hockey Recruiting Rules and Calendar

When student-athletes think about the college recruiting process, they often think about phone calls with college coaches, visiting college campuses to meet the team and coaching staff and receiving athletic scholarship offers. What student-athletes don’t often realize is that college coaches start recruiting long before they can contact recruits. Leading up to the official start of the recruiting process, college coaches dedicate time to reviewing student-athletes’ recruiting profiles and attending tournaments to evaluate and build a list of prospective recruits. In this section, we breakdown the NCAA men’s hockey recruiting rules and review what steps recruits should take to market themselves to college coaches before the recruiting process begins.

What to know about the NCAA hockey recruiting rules and calendar

It can be hard to keep up with the all the changes to the NCAA Division 1 hockey recruiting rules and calendar over the years. Below is an outline of what recruits and their families need to know about the NCAA hockey recruiting process.

  1. Early Recruiting: Hockey recruits won’t hear from college coaches until their sophomore year, but college coaches will most certainly still evaluate them at tournaments, college camps and combines before then. College coaches may even contact a recruit’s high school and club coaches to let them know they have their eye on an athlete. During the time before college coaches can contact recruits, athletes should attend events to increase their exposure.
  2. Communication and Verbal Offers: After Division 1 college coaches can begin contacting recruits, starting January 1 after the athlete’s sophomore year, they must wait until August 1 of the athlete’s junior year to make a verbal offer.
  3. Official and Unofficial Visits: Hockey recruits can schedule unofficial visits starting January 1 of their sophomore year, but will have to hold off on talking to college coaches on campus until they can schedule an official visit, starting August 1 of their junior.
  4. Accepting Scholarships: For NCAA institutions that use the National Letter of Intent (NLI), recruits will be asked to sign an NLI and athletic aid agreement to officially accept a scholarship offer with an NCAA sponsored sport. NLIs can be signed starting in November. Student-athletes can view the National Sign Day dates on the NLI website.

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When can college hockey coaches start contacting you?

According to the new NCAA hockey recruiting rules established in May 2019, NCAA Division 1 college coaches are permitted to contact recruits after January 1 of the recruit’s sophomore year. NCAA Division 2 college coaches are required to wait six additional months, with the NCAA recruiting rules stating recruits can be contacted by college coaches starting June 15 of their sophomore year.

While college coaches may not be able to contract recruits until their sophomore year, there are plenty of steps that student-athletes should take to prepare for the recruiting process. Recruits should dedicate time to creating a recruiting profile and highlight video, as well as researching college hockey programs to build a list of prospective schools.

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Junior hockey recruiting rules

Junior ice hockey is one path that student-athletes can take to get recruited for men’s college hockey. Student-athletes can begin playing junior hockey once they turn 16 years old and compete until they are 20 years old. While you can play junior hockey for five years, college coaches don’t care so much about how long you participate, but rather which junior hockey league you were in.

There are three junior hockey tiers that are comprised of various leagues. Recruits that compete for the tier 1 USHL league are most likely to be recruited by a NCAA Division 1 program.

Tier 1: USHL

Tier 2: NAHL and the NCDC.

Tier 3: EHL, USPHL Premiere, NA3HL and WSHL

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New NCAA rules for men’s hockey

Recognizing that the recruiting process had accelerated over the years, the NCAA wanted to take steps to establish an equal and positive recruiting experience for all recruits. In 2019, the NCAA announced changes to the recruiting rules that significantly impacted the men’s college hockey recruiting process.

  • Communication between Division 1 college coaches and recruits is prohibited until January 1 of a recruit’s sophomore year. This includes contact initiated by the recruit. If a recruit initiates contact with a coach prior to this date, the coach is not permitted to engage in conversation. 
  • Communication between Division 2 college coaches and recruits is prohibited until June 15 after the recruit’s sophomore year.
  • Recruits can receive their first verbal offer from NCAA college coaches starting August 1 prior to a recruit’s junior year. 

By making these changes to the recruiting rules, the NCAA’s goal is to give recruits more time to enjoy their high school experience and develop athletically and mentally.

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NCAA Division 1 hockey recruiting rules

The NCAA Division 1 recruiting rules and calendar are the most restrictive in college recruiting.

  • Any time
    • Recruits can receive non-recruiting materials at any time. (i.e. questionnaires, camp brochures, nonathletic institutional publications and official NCAA educational materials)
  • January 1 of sophomore year
    • College coaches can begin contacting recruits via phone and digital communication, such as emails, text messages and direct messages.
    • Recruits can schedule unofficial visits after this date.
  • August 1 of junior year:
    • Recruits can begin scheduling official visits and meet with college coaches on campus to discuss recruiting.
    • College coaches can begin making verbal scholarship offers.
    • Off-campus contact is permitted at the recruit’s school or home.

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NCAA Division 2 hockey recruiting rules

The NCAA Division 2 recruiting rules are less restrictive than Division 1 rules and apply to all Division 2 sports.

  • Any time:
    • Recruits can receive non-recruiting materials, including camp brochures, questionnaires, and NCAA materials and non-athletic recruiting publications at any time.
    • Recruits are permitted to schedule unofficial visits at any time.
  • June 15 after sophomore year:
    • Coaches can begin contacting recruits by phone, email, text message and direct messaging.
    • Off-campus communication at the recruit’s school or home is permitted.
    • Recruits and college coaches can begin to schedule official recruiting visits.

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NCAA Division 3 hockey recruiting rules

NCAA Division 3 schools adhere to the most relaxed recruiting rules of the three NCAA divisions. These rules apply to all Division 3 sports.

  • Any time:Recruiting materials can be sent to athletes at any time.
    • All contact between college coaches and recruits is permitted at any time.
    • Recruits can go on an unlimited number of unofficial visits at any time.
  • After sophomore year:
    • Off-campus communication between an athlete and coaches can begin following the athlete’s sophomore year.
  • January 1 of junior year:
    • Recruits can schedule official visits to explore campus and meet with the college coach to discuss recruiting.

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2019-20 NCAA men’s hockey recruiting calendar 

Dead periods: During these periods, coaches are prohibited from contacting recruits and/or their parents. Digital communication between recruits and coaches is still permitted.

Division 1

  • Nov. 11-14, 2019 (Monday through Thursday of the initial week for the signing of the National Letter of Intent)
  • Apr. 8-12 (noon), 2020 (Wednesday prior to the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Ice Hockey Championship to noon on the Sunday after the game).

Division 2

  • November 11 (7 a.m.) – 13 (7 a.m.), 2019 (during the 48 hours prior to 7 a.m. on the initial date for the spring signing of the National Letter of Intent)

Contact period: All dates that are not mentioned as a dead period, should be treated like a contact period, in which all communications between families and coaches are fair game.

View the NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 recruiting calendars.

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