So, what makes a visit official? Any visit to a college campus in which any part is financed by the school is considered an official visit. Coaches usually save invitations for their top recruits and getting asked is a huge step on your recruiting journey. It’s important to prepare in advance for this crucial part of the recruiting process. We’ve put together everything you need to know to ace your next official visit.
NCAA official visit rules
Each division level has its own set of rules surrounding official college visits. Division I has the strictest regulations. The following are the rules you need to know:
- The NCAA allows a recruit to make only five visits to Division I schools, limited to one per school. Official visits to DII and DIII schools are also limited to one per school, but there is no limit on total amount of visits.
- The school can pay for the following for you and your parents/guardians: transportation to and from the campus, lodging throughout your visit, three meals per day and three tickets to a home sports event.
- Schools may pay for a recruit’s transportation to and from campus. However, they can only provide transportation for parent/guardians if they travel in the same car as the recruit. Flights and separate bus or train tickets may not be purchased for parents.
- At all levels, recruits can take only one official visit per school.
- Each official visit may be up to 48 hours long, or the span of one weekend.
- For D1 men's basketball, recruits can begin taking official visits starting January 1 of their junior year of high school. Women's basketball recruits may begin taking official visits April of their junior year of high school, beginning the Thursday following the Women's Final Four tournament.
- For D1 women's basketball recruits may begin taking official visits April of their junior year of high school, beginning the Thursday following the Women's Final Four tournament.
- Due to a rule update by the NCAA, effective May 1, 2019, official visits for all other DI sports can begin August 1 before the athlete's junior year of high school. For almost all sports, this bumps up the official visit date.
- Official visits are not allowed to occur during recruiting dead periods.
Within these official rules, each school will have a slightly different way in which they conduct visits. Some schools will be able to finance your whole trip, paying for transportation, meals, lodging and tickets to a home game. But this is the maximum of what colleges can provide for their recruits. Some programs simply may not have the money to pay for your entire visit, opting to finance just a small portion of your visit. An official visit can also include having an on-campus lunch or dinner that is purchased by the coach. It doesn’t have to last the full 48 hours—again, that’s the maximum amount but not a requirement.
Generally speaking, the more money a coach spends on your official visit, the higher up on their list you are as a recruit. However, that’s not a reason to discount a program that’s trying to recruit on a budget. If you’re interested in a school, official visits can be the last piece of the puzzle to help you understand if it’s your best college fit.
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What are the new recruiting rules around official visits?
Effective May 1, 2019, the NCAA created a series of updated recruiting rules to slow down the recruiting process and cut back on the number of recruits getting verbal offers as eighth graders, freshmen and sophomores in high school. Athletes will now have more time to research colleges and focus on developing athletically and academically. Then, as juniors and seniors in high school, they will be better equipped to decide which college or university is right for them.
According to the new rules, DI recruits in most sports can now start taking official and unofficial visits starting August 1 before their junior year of high school. In the past, official visits weren't permitted until the athlete's senior year of high school and there were no restrictions on unofficial visits. While this is exciting news for recruits eager to visit campuses, these rule changes will also likely put more emphasis on athletes and families needing to be proactive early in the recruiting process. With top prospects being offered official visits their junior year, this means even more schools can lock down their recruiting classes early. As a recruit, you need to start the recruiting process as early as possible so you're ready for official visit invites August 1 of junior year. For more information about the recruiting rules updates, check out our blog post.
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