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2020-21 NCAA Men’s Track and Field Recruiting Rules and Calendar

When can colleges start recruiting for men’s track and field programs? The NCAA track and field recruiting rules dictate when and how college coaches can contact potential recruits. Their goal in creating these rules was to make sure elite recruits didn’t get overwhelmed by constant contact from coaches, but it can also make it tough for track and field families to know when to expect contact from college coaches. 

For NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 coaches, almost all contact is off-limits until June 15 after a recruit’s sophomore year in high school. On the other hand, college coaches at the Division 3, NAIA and NJCAA (junior college) levels don’t have the same restrictions on when they can reach out to recruits – they’re allowed to reach out to recruits showing interest in their schools at any point in time. In this section, we outline the NCAA track and field recruiting rules and calendar, as well as the rules and calendar for the NAIA, to help you navigate your track and field recruiting process. Everything you need to know about NCAA track and field.

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

What you need to know about the NCAA track and field recruiting rules

Families can use the NCAA track and field recruiting rules and NCAA track and field recruiting calendar to make sure they’re on track throughout the recruiting process. For example, if it’s June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year of high school, they can begin to receive emails, texts and DMs from D1, D2, D3 and NAIA coaches. If track and field athletes don’t start receiving these types of messages from college coaches after that point, it becomes more important than ever for them to be proactive and reach out to coaches 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. The NCAA outlines specific time periods each year for when D1 and D2 coaches can contact potential recruits, and which days are off limits from actively recruiting. Remember: D3, NAIA and NJCAA coaches aren’t restricted to these rules and guidelines. 

One of the goals in putting these rules and guidelines in place was to ensure recruits could complete their coursework for graduation and enjoy their own personal time while not being overwhelmed by constant contact from college recruiters during the recruitment process. Both the NCAA track and field recruiting rules and calendar provide a good framework for when coaches can contact recruits and vice versa, while also making an effort to provide men’s track and field athletes with a similar timeline to their non-athlete student counterparts during the process of identifying and evaluating potential colleges. For more information on track and field information, check out the college track and field page.

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NCAA track and field recruiting rules

In 2019 the NCAA approved new guidelines for its track and field recruiting rules and calendar that changed the way D1 college coaches can recruit men’s track and field athletes. These new rules put limits on the communication between a recruit and a college coach before the end of their sophomore year of high school. 

While these rules are designed to stop the growth of early recruiting and give student-athletes the opportunity to make a more informed decision on their college of choice, they also significantly speed up the recruiting timeline for men’s track and field. In a 2017 NCAA study, athletes reported having a recruiting conversation with a college coach before their junior year of high school. Now, D1 college coaches can reach out to potential recruits starting June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year—which means the recruiting process could actually begin to speed up in men’s track and field. 

Here is a breakdown of the new recruiting rules and their impact on the NCAA Division 1 track and field recruiting calendar:

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When can track and field coaches contact recruits? 

The NCAA D1 track and field recruiting calendar allows D1 college coaches to start contacting recruits June 15 after a recruit’s sophomore year. This includes phone calls, emails, texts, social media DMs, and printed athletic institutional publications. However, coaches at all division levels, including D1 can send general information about the school or requests to complete a recruiting questionnaire at any time. If a track and field athlete receives one or more of these types of non-recruiting materials, it can mean that the coach has noticed them and may be interested in recruiting them. 

The NCAA recruiting rules for D2 schools are slightly more relaxed than those at the D1 level. Like at the D1 level, coaches cannot send athletes private/electronic correspondence, call potential recruits, or have any form of off-campus contact, including official visits, until June 15 after sophomore year. However, athletes can go on an unlimited number of unofficial visits and make phone calls to college coaches (at their own expense) at any time—even during their freshman or sophomore year 

The NCAA recruiting rules for D3 men’s track and field are even more lax—in short, there are almost no rules. Coaches can contact potential recruits at any time, and vice versa. The only restrictions are on off-campus contact—allowed immediately after your sophomore year—and official visits, which are permitted beginning January 1 of your junior year in high school. 

There are virtually no restrictions at the NAIA level. Coaches can contact recruits freely, and the NAIA does not regulate when or how often recruits communicate with college coaches. 

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NCAA Division 1 men’s track and field recruiting rules

The NCAA Division 1 track and field recruiting rules and calendar outline when prospective student-athletes can receive certain forms of communication from college track and field coaches based on their year in high school.

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NCAA Division 2 men’s track and field recruiting rules 

The NCAA D2 track and field recruiting rules and calendar are not as strict as they are at the D1 level, but they do share some similarities. Most types of communication are allowed starting June 15 before a recruit’s junior year of high school.

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NCAA Division 3 men’s track and field recruiting rules 

The NCAA track and field recruiting rules and calendar at the D3 level are the most relaxed among all NCAA divisions. While there are very few restrictions around coach communication and off-campus contact, D3 college coaches tend to start their recruiting during the end of an athlete’s junior year and continue for the duration of their senior year—it’s not uncommon to see coaches recruiting athletes well into the spring of their final year of high school.

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NAIA men’s track and field recruiting rules 

Unlike their NCAA counterparts, NAIA track and field coaches can contact prospective student-athletes, including freshmen and sophomores, at any time. College coaches at the NAIA level also don’t have to follow the NCAA track and field recruiting rules at any division level, which allows them to actively recruit student-athletes throughout the year. If you’re interested in an NAIA school, you can reach out to the coach right away, even as an underclassman. 

However, it’s important to note that like college coaches at the NCAA D3 level, NAIA coaches also tend to start their recruiting after those at the D1 and D2 levels, which, with the addition of the new recruiting rules for D1 programs, will also speed up their recruiting timelines. They generally recruit well into a track and field athlete’s senior year, too. 

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2020-2021 NCAA Division 1 men’s track and field recruiting calendar 

Dead periods: Coaches are not allowed to make any in-person contact with recruits or their parents at any time. This includes talking to recruits at their college campus, the athlete’s school, an athletic camp, a meet or other athletic competition or anywhere else where a coach and prospective recruit might come in contact. Coaches can communicate via all digital communication channels. 

Contact periods: All communication is permitted between a D1 coach and a prospective student-athlete during the contact period. Coaches can also watch you compete and have face-to-face contact with you or your parents at a track meet or other competition, at your school and in your home.

Evaluation periods: Coaches can watch you compete in person or visit your school to talk with coaches, teachers or guidance counselors. They can contact you or your parents via phone call or email but cannot have off-campus face-to-face contact.

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2020-2021 NCAA Division 2 men’s track and field recruiting calendar 

Except for the dates listed below, treat everything else like a contact period.

Dead periods: Coaches are not allowed to make any in-person contact with recruits or their parents at any time. This includes talking to recruits at their college campus, the athlete’s school, an athletic camp, a meet or other athletic competition or anywhere else where a coach and prospective recruit might come in contact. Coaches can communicate via all digital communication channels.

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2020-2021 NCAA Division 3 and NAIA men’s track and field recruiting calendar

There are no designated dead periods on the NCAA track and field recruiting calendar for D3 or NAIA schools. The contact period is effectively year-round for track and field coaches at this level. 

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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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