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.
It can be hard to keep up with 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.
According to the most recent 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 after 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.
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
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.
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.
The NCAA Division 1 recruiting rules and calendar are the most restrictive in college recruiting.
The NCAA Division 2 recruiting rules are less restrictive than Division 1 rules and apply to all Division 2 sports.
NCAA Division 3 schools adhere to the most relaxed recruiting rules of the three NCAA divisions. These rules apply to all Division 3 sports.
Dead periods: During these periods, coaches are prohibited from contacting recruits and/or their parents. Digital communication between recruits and coaches is still permitted.
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.
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.