When can college coaches talk to players? In 2017, the NCAA approved a proposal from the IWLCA and IMLCA to push back the date that college coaches can begin contacting student-athletes to September 1 of their junior year. Why did college lacrosse change the recruiting rules? In a 2017 study conducted by the NCAA, 81 percent of lacrosse student-athletes reported that their first recruiting contact, direct or indirect, from a college coach occurred before their junior year. Compared to the other 10 NCAA sanctioned men’s sports, lacrosse had the highest rate of early recruiting by 18 percent.
In addition to early coach contact, 50 percent of lacrosse student-athletes reportedly made 4+ unofficial visits and recruits reported that their first verbal offer was received before junior year. Recognizing the effects of early recruiting on the sport of lacrosse and the young student-athletes who are still developing physically and mentally, USA Lacrosse and the IWLCA and IMLCA worked together to push the NCAA to change the recruiting rules.
As a result of these changes, men’s lacrosse has some of the most restrictive recruiting rules of any sport. Coaches and recruits must wait until September 1 after an athlete’s junior year, to communicate via verbal offers, emails, calls, texts and recruiting letters. Though, recruiting rules do vary from division to division, allowing coaches to contact athletes earlier, most division levels follow the NCAA rules. We’ve created this section to help student-athletes and their families better understand the NCAA lacrosse recruiting rules and calendar, as well as the rules and calendar for the NAIA.
READ MORE: NCAA’s new rules will grant student-athletes the opportunity to earn money from their name, image and likeness (NIL).
The college recruiting process can be stressful but understanding the NCAA lacrosse recruiting calendar and rules shouldn’t be. This section outlines everything student-athletes and their families need to know about the recruiting process across the NCAA’s three divisions and the NAIA’s two divisions, including when the process begins, early recruitment and the rules and calendar established by the NCAA each year.
College coaches can begin contacting recruits, sending recruiting materials, communicating digitally and making verbal offers starting September 1 of the athlete’s junior year. Student-athletes can begin contacting college coaches and scheduling official and unofficial beginning September 1 of their junior year.
Of course, athletes should be preparing for the lacrosse recruiting process far before this date. Student-athletes and their families should dedicate time to building a strong recruiting profile, creating a quality highlights video and researching schools in advance to the start of the recruiting process. This preparation will help position athletes for a successful recruitment experience.
The NCAA, together with USA Lacrosse and the IWLCA/IMLCA, established new rules in 2017 to significantly limit early recruiting. These new rules were designed to stop all forms of recruiting conversations and early offers before September 1st of an athlete’s junior year of high school. The only forms of communication a college coach can have is with a recruit’s club or high school coach, but even those conversations are limited to simple yes or no answers to the questions of recruiting. Absolutely no verbal offers can be made or suggested.
But early recruiting can still occur before communication between college coaches and recruits is permitted. Before September 1st, college coaches are free to research student-athletes by viewing recruiting profiles, watching highlight videos and watching the student-athlete’s performance at games. When communication is permitted, starting September 1st of an athlete’s junior year, college coaches will have already done their research and can begin to build a relationship with athletes they are interested in recruiting. This is why it’s important for student-athletes to create a recruiting profile with stats and a highlight video and play in tournaments prior to the start of the lacrosse recruiting process.
A study on student-athlete’s recruiting experience, conducted by the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), revealed that early recruiting was more prevalent in college lacrosse than any other men’s NCAA sport, with 81 percent of recruits reporting their first recruiting communication occurred before junior year. In 2017, USA Lacrosse and the IWLCA and IMLCA teamed up to address the spiraling trend of early recruiting in college lacrosse and proposed that the NCAA adopt new rules around coach and athlete communication. The ultimate goals in pushing this change was to curb the spiraling trend of early recruiting in lacrosse and alleviate pressure on student-athletes and allow time to focus on academics, take the ACT and/or SAT, develop their athletic skillset and, most importantly, enjoy high school.
In April 2017, the NCAA Division I Council approved a proposal from USA Lacrosse and the IWLCA and IMLCA to ban college lacrosse coaches from communicating with student-athletes until September 1 of their junior year. This means college coaches cannot contact student-athletes, schedule unofficial visits or give verbal offers until that date.
NCAA Division I college coaches can start contacting student-athletes after September 1 of junior year. This rule was established in April 2017 by the NCAA Division I Council. Division II college coaches are able to contact student-athletes starting June 15 after sophomore year.
NCAA Division I sports follow the most restrictive and limiting set of rules that vary from sport to sport.
All NCAA Division II sports adhere to the same recruiting rules, which are more lenient than The NCAA Recruiting Rules for Division I schools.
Just as the NCAA DII, DIII schools have the same NCAA recruiting rules for all sports. DIII schools enjoy the most relaxed rules, as compared to the other two NCAA divisions.
NAIA recruiting traditionally begins later in the recruiting period, as NAIA coaches often look to recruit student-athletes who missed out on an offer from a D1 school. Coaches and athletes are held to fewer and less strict recruiting rules, as compared to the NCAA and are free to communicate at any time during high school. Athletes will find that NAIA coaches make a concerted effort to ensure athletes are not just a good fit athletically, but also socially and academically.
Dead periods: This period prevents coaches from any in-person contact with recruits and/or their parents. Digital communication between athletes and coaches is still allowed via phone, email, social media, etc.
Contact period: Contact between athletes and coaches is restricted to camp and clinic information, until June 15 after the sophomore year. Once this date passes, coaches and athletes can communicate freely using any NCAA-approved method, including emails, text, calls and direct messages. It is at this time that coaches are also allowed to extend verbal offers. The only communication restrictions in place after June 15 of the athlete’s sophomore year are the dead periods listed above and a quiet period.
The NCAA lacrosse recruiting calendar for D2 has three dead periods listed below. Student-athletes are free to communicate with coaches beginning June 15 after their sophomore year.
NCAA DI men’s lacrosse observes quiet periods, during which college coaches may only talk to prospective student-athletes in-person on campus. During this time, College coaches are prohibited from visiting student-athletes’ homes, high schools and games. The NCAA’s philosophy behind the quiet period is to provide recruits a break from college coach visits, while still allowing communication to flow from coach to athlete in emails, texts, calls and direct messaging.
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.