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NCAA Recruiting Rules: When Can College Coaches Contact High School Athletes

 

The NCAA recruiting rules can be detailed and tricky to understand. One of the most common questions families ask is when college coaches can start contacting their athletes. For most sports, coaches can begin reaching out to athletes starting September 1 or June 15 going into the athlete’s junior year of high school.

More specifically, coach contact depends on your sport, age, division level and the type of communication. The NCAA recruiting rules are designed to limit the amount of communication elite athletes receive from coaches, giving them some respite from all the calls, emails and letters. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you understand when you can expect to start hearing from college coaches, based on your sport and desired division level.

Insider Tip: As an athlete, you can reach out to college coaches at any time. The NCAA recruiting rules only limit when coaches can communicate with potential recruits. We recommend emailing coaches of programs you are interested in as early as possible. Send them your athletic resume, which includes:

  • Your highlight video
  • Any sport-specific stats
  • Your academic information
  • Why you are interested in their program

When the NCAA recruiting rules allow coaches to contact you, you will already be on their radar. Be sure to follow up each of your communications with a phone call, as coaches can take your call at any point. They just can’t call you back if they miss your call.

Updated NCAA recruiting rules change the timing for certain recruiting activities

The NCAA just approved a new set of rules that will change the way Division 1 college coaches can recruit athletes during camps and visits in an effort to cut back on early recruiting, or coaches giving scholarship offers to athletes before their junior year of high school. The rules take effect immediately, starting Wednesday, April 25, 2018. Here's a quick breakdown of these changes:

  • Official visits: Recruits can now start taking official visits starting September 1 of their junior year of high school. In the past, official visits weren't permitted until the athlete's senior year of high school, so this rule is actually bumping them up!
  • Camps and clinics: Recruits and college coaches are not allowed to have any recruiting conversations during camps prior to September 1 of the athlete's junior year of high school. Previously, there weren't really any rules that prevented coaches from talking about recruiting to underclassmen during camps. In fact, it had become common practice for college coaches to extend verbal scholarship offers to top recruits during camps.
  • Unofficial visits: College athletic departments-this includes college coaches-are not allowed to be involved in a recruit's unofficial visits. Quick refresher: Unofficial visits are any campus visits paid for entirely by the recruit's family. Before the rule change, unofficial visits were an easy way for underclassmen to visit a college camps, meet with the coach and get an early verbal offer. However, if athletes want to take unofficial visits now, they cannot schedule them with the coach-they should treat the unofficial visit just like any other student would. If the recruit happens to bump into the coach on campus, they can't have any recruiting conversations at that time.
  • D1 softball only: Softball took the new rules to the next level by making it illegal for college coaches to have recruiting conversations or send recruiting messages through an athlete's club/high school coach or other third party. In the past, coaches and athletes took advantage of a loophole in the rules by having recruits' current coaches reach out to college coaches on their behalf. With the new rule, no one can reach out to college coaches on a recruit's behalf before September 1 of their junior year of high school.

For more information about these new rule changes, check out this blog article. We go more in depth about what these changes are, they were made and how they might impact your recruiting.

 

When can Division I coaches contact athletes?

Generally speaking, DI coaches can send athletes recruiting questionnaires, camp brochures, and non-athletic institutional publications freshman and sophomore year. Most other contact begins either June 15 or September 1 of the athlete’s junior year, according to the NCAA recruiting rules.

Insider Tip: Athletes can always communicate with college coaches through their club or high school coach. Your current coach can communicate with the college coach and set up a phone call, telling the college coach to expect a call from the athlete at a specific time so the coach is sure to answer the phone.

 

Division I Football

  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can receive any form of private communication. This includes emails, recruiting materials, texts and direct messages on social media.
  • April 1 through Sunday before the last Wednesday in June of junior year: Athletes can take one official visit as long as it is not taken in conjunction with their participation in the college’s camps or clinics.
  • April 15 through May 31 junior year: NCAA recruiting rules mandate that, during this time, coaches can call athletes one time. Additional calls can be made after September 1 of the athlete’s senior year.
  • July 1 going into senior year: Coaches can contact athletes off campus.
  • September 1 of senior year: Coaches can call athletes once a week after this time, and they can call recruits unlimited times during the contact period. Athletes can receive unlimited calls during the contact period.
  • First day of classes senior year: Athletes can take official visits.
  • The athlete’s senior year, coaches can initiate off-campus contact with the athletes and/or their parents up to six times.
  • During athletes’ senior year, coaches can evaluate each recruit once during September, October and November. They can conduct two evaluations per athlete (one to determine an athlete’s athletic ability and the other to determine academic qualifications) between April 15 and May 31.
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Division I Men’s Basketball

  • June 15 prior to junior year: Coaches can call, email, text, direct message and correspond with athletes in any form of private communication. Calls from coaches to athletes are unlimited at this time except during dead and quiet periods.
  • Start of classes junior year: Coaches can initiate off-campus contact. Except during the April recruiting period, coaches can only conduct off-campus contact at the recruit’s school or residence. Contact cannot occur the day of a competition or at a time during the day when the athlete’s classes are in session.
  • January 1 of junior year: Recruits can begin official visits, with a maximum of five total official visits, with only one official visit per school. Meaning, you can have an official visit at up to five schools, with one official visit at each. Bear in mind, official visits cannot occur during the dead period, as the NCAA recruiting rules explain.
  • Senior year: College coaches can contact recruits and/or their parents off the college’s campus up to seven times.
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Division I Women’s Basketball

  • September 1 of junior year: Coaches can send electronic communications to athletes, including texts, instant messages, emails and recruiting materials. According to NCAA rules, coaches can call athletes an unlimited number of times.
  • March 1 of junior year: NCAA recruiting rules allow coaches to conduct off-campus contact at the athlete’s school or residence.
  • April of junior year starting the Thursday following the NCAA women’s basketball championship game: Recruits can begin taking up to five official visits, except during the dead periods.
  • A college coach can contact athletes and/or parents off campus up to seven times their senior year.
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Division I Men’s Ice Hockey

  • January 1 of sophomore year: Coaches can begin calling recruits.
  • September 1 junior year: Coaches may begin initiating off-campus contact.
  • September 1 junior year: Coaches can send all forms of private electronic correspondence, including text messages, direct messages, instant messages and emails. Athletes can also receive recruiting materials and calls from coaches after this date.
  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can begin going on official visits, taking up to five.
  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can arrange unofficial visits with the school's athletic department and speak to the coach about recruiting while on campus.
  • July 1 after junior year: Coaches can conduct off-campus contact.
  • Senior year: NCAA recruiting rules allow coaches to conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents no more than three times.
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Division I Women’s Ice Hockey

  • July 7-31 before junior year: College coaches can call international college-bound student-athletes once during this time period.
  • September 1 junior year: Coaches can send all forms of private electronic correspondence, including texts, emails, direct messages, instant messages, etc. Recruits can also receive recruiting material from coaches at this point.
  • September 1 junior year: Recruits can begin taking official visits to schools.
  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can begin arranging unofficial visits with a school's athletic department and meet with the coach while on campus.
  • July 7 before senior year: Coaches can call recruits once a week. After this date, coaches can also begin conducting off-campus contact with recruits.
  • Senior year: Coaches can contact athletes and/or their parents off-campus no more than three times.
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Division I Men’s/Women’s Swimming & Diving; Cross Country; Track & Field

  • September 1 of junior year: The NCAA recruiting rules show only email and faxes are allowed to be sent to athletes until they provide written commitment to the NCAA school. At this date, athletes can receive recruiting materials.
  • September 1 junior year: Recruits can begin taking official visits to schools.
  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can begin arranging unofficial visits with a school's athletic department and meet with the coach while on campus.
  • July 1 going into senior year or start of classes senior year (whichever is earlier): Coaches may begin calling athletes.
  • July 1 going into senior year: Coaches may contact athletes off-campus.
  • Senior year: Coaches can conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents no more than three times.
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Division I Men’s/Women’s Lacrosse

  • September 1 of junior year: Coaches can send all forms of private, electronic correspondence, including text messages, direct messages and emails, as well as recruiting materials. Coaches are also able to start calling athletes after this date. Unlike other sports, lacrosse athletes cannot call coaches before September 1 of their junior year.
  • September 1 of junior year: Coaches can conduct off-campus visits at the athlete’s residence or school.
  • September 1 of junior year: Athletes cannot go on unofficial visits until this date.
  • September 1 junior year: Recruits can begin taking official visits to schools.
  • Senior year: According to the NCAA recruiting rules, college coaches may contact athletes and/or their parents off-campus no more than three times.
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Division I Women’s Gymnastics

  • September 1 junior year: Coaches can send athletes all forms of private electronic correspondence, including text messages, instant messages, direct messages and emails, as well as all recruiting materials. Coaches can also call athletes at this point.
  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can begin taking unofficial visits.
  • September 1 junior year: Recruits can begin taking official visits to schools.
  • July 7 going into senior year: Coaches can conduct off-campus contact with athletes.
  • Senior year: Coaches can conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents no more than three times.
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Division I Men’s Wrestling

  • September 1 junior year: Coaches can send athletes all forms of private electronic correspondence, including text messages, instant messages, direct messages and emails, as well as all recruiting materials. Coaches can also call athletes at this point.
  • September 1 of junior year: Athletes can begin taking unofficial visits.
  • September 1 junior year: Recruits can begin taking official visits to schools.
  • September 1 junior year: NCAA recruiting rules allow coaches to conduct off-campus contact with athletes at their residence or school.
  • Senior year: Coaches can conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents no more than three times.
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Division I Softball

  • September 1 junior year: Coaches can send athletes all forms of private electronic correspondence, including text messages, instant messages, direct messages and emails, as well as all recruiting materials. Coaches can also call athletes at this point. Softball went one step further to discourage early recruiting by mandating that no one can reach out to college coaches on a recruit's behalf before September 1 of their junior year of high school, including club or high school coaches, parents or third-party recruiters.
  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can begin taking official visits.
  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can begin arranging unofficial visits with a school's athletic department and talk about recruiting with the coach while on campus.
  • July 1 before senior year: Coaches can begin conducting off-campus contact with athletes at their residence or school.
  • Senior year: Coaches can conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents no more than three times.
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All other Division I sports

  • September 1 junior year: Coaches can send athletes all forms of private electronic correspondence, including text messages, instant messages, direct messages and emails, as well as all recruiting materials. Coaches can also call athletes at this point.
  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can begin taking official visits.
  • September 1 junior year: Athletes can begin arranging unofficial visits with a school's athletic department and meet with the coach while on campus.
  • July 1 before senior year: Coaches can begin conducting off-campus contact with athletes at their residence or school.
  • Senior year: Coaches can conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents no more than three times.
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When can Division II coaches contact athletes?

The NCAA Recruiting Rules for Division II schools are slightly more relaxed than those for Division I, and the rules are the same across all sports:

  • General materials: Athletes can receive brochures for camps, questionnaires, NCAA materials and non-athletic recruiting publications at any time.
  • Printed recruiting materials: Starting July 15 before an athlete’s junior year, coaches can begin sending recruits printed recruiting materials.
  • Telephone calls: Starting June 15 going into the athlete’s junior year, coaches can start calling athletes.
  • Off-campus contact: Coaches can conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents starting June 15 before the athlete’s junior year.
  • Official visits: Athletes may start taking official visits starting June 15 going into their junior year.
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When can Division III coaches contact athletes?

DIII schools have the most relaxed NCAA recruiting rules of all the division levels. Similar to NCAA DII, they are the same for all sports:

  • Recruiting materials: Athletes can receive recruiting materials at any time.
  • Telephone calls: There is no limit on when college coaches can call athletes.
  • Off-campus contact: After the athlete’s sophomore year, college coaches may begin to conduct off-campus communications.
  • Official visits: Athletes can begin taking official visits after January 1 of their junior year.
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