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.
The new 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 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:
- Coach Communication: No communication between a student-athlete or parent/guardian and a D1 college coach is allowed until June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year. This includes any phone calls, texts, emails and social messages, like Twitter DMs. Previously, college coaches could discuss recruiting with freshmen or sophomores if an athlete called a coach and the coach answered or if a recruit visited them on an unofficial visit.
- Recruiting Conversations: Coaches are not allowed to have any kind of recruiting conversations with track and field recruits, their parents/guardians or the athlete’s club or high school coach until June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year. This means they can’t make verbal offers or hint at a potential scholarship. The only conversation a college coach can have regarding freshman and sophomore prospects is if asked by the club/high school coach if they (the coach) are recruiting the prospect, the college coach can reply “yes” or “no.”
- Official Visits: Recruits can now take official visits to college campuses starting August 1 of their junior year. Official visits include any visit to a college campus in which part or all of the visit – transportation, accommodations and meals, tickets to a home sports event – are paid for by the school’s athletic department. Previously, track and field athletes had to wait until September 1 of their junior year.
- Unofficial Visits: Before the new rules, recruits were allowed to make unofficial visits and meet with a coach anytime they wanted. Now, recruits must wait until August 1 of their junior year (same as official visits). Unofficial visits are financed entirely by a recruit’s family and serve as a great way for men’s track and field athletes to get a feel for different college campuses, meet with the head track and field coach and potentially receive an early verbal scholarship offer. Recruits can still visit campuses but will not be allowed to meet with a coach or discuss recruiting until the beginning of their junior year.
- Off Campus Contact: Off-campus contact, such as at an athlete’s high school track meet or a recruiting event, is also prohibited before August 1 of the athlete’s junior year. Previously, coaches could talk to underclassmen attending camps and clinics on their campus about the recruiting process and whether they were interested in their track and field programs.