The NCAA, in partnership with USA Lacrosse and the IWLCA and IMLCA, announced a change to the women’s college lacrosse recruiting calendar in 2017. College coaches can contact student-athletes beginning September 1 of their junior year via verbal offers, emails, calls, texts and recruiting letters. Why did college lacrosse recruiting rules change? A 2017 NCAA study revealed that 81 percent of women’s lacrosse student-athletes had their first recruiting contact with a college coach prior to the start of their junior year. Lacrosse had the highest rate of early recruiting when compared to the other ten NCAA sanctioned women’s sports.
Additionally, of the women’s lacrosse players who were surveyed, 44 percent reported that they had received a verbal offer before their junior year. Concerned about the growth of early recruiting, USA Lacrosse and the IWLCA and IMLCA proposed new limitations on college coach and student-athlete communication that would allow more time for student-athletes to develop physically and mentally before the recruiting process starts.
College lacrosse coaches are now held to the strictest recruiting rules of any NCAA sport regarding communication. Contact is no longer permitted between student-athletes and college coaches until September 1 of the athlete’s junior year. While the NCAA has strict recruiting rules for Division 1 sports, some divisions have less restrictive recruiting rules that allow coaches to contact athletes earlier. This section is designed to guide student-athletes and their families through the NCAA lacrosse recruiting rules and calendar, as well as the rules and calendar for the NAIA.
One way that NCSA aims to reduce the stress around the college recruiting process is by breaking down the NCAA lacrosse recruiting calendar and rules in a way that’s easy to understand. This section focuses on the recruiting rules and regulations that student-athletes and college coaches must follow under both the NCAA and NAIA. This section looks at the recruiting timeline, new lacrosse recruiting rules, early recruitment and the NCAA recruiting calendar.
NCAA Division 1 coaches are free to contact recruits after September 1 of the athlete’s junior year. College coaches can send digital communication, make phone calls, send recruiting materials and make verbal offers to recruits. Communication is permitted as early as June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year for Division II college coaches. Beginning September 1, student-athletes can begin contacting college coaches and scheduling official and unofficial visits.
While official contact with college coaches won’t begin until September 1 of Junior year, there is a lot that prospects should be doing to prepare for that date. Getting on the radar of college coaches and letting them know you are interested is up to the student-athlete. Student-athletes will need to create a strong recruiting profile, capture and edit a quality highlights video and research potential schools prior to the start of the recruiting process. Student-athletes who prepare for the recruiting process will be better set up for success.
In 2017, the NCAA established new rules that aim to eliminate the trend of early recruiting. USA Lacrosse and the IWLCA/IMLCA proposed this change to the rules with hopes that it would reduce all forms of early lacrosse recruiting. Before September 1of an athlete’s junior year of high school, college coaches are only permitted to communicate with a recruit’s club or high school coach, though their conversation is restricted to simple Yes or No answers to the questions, and no verbal offers can be made or suggested.
While communication is not permitted before September 1 of the athlete’s junior year, college coaches are still able to prepare for the recruiting process by researching student-athletes. This research includes viewing recruiting profiles and highlight videos, as well as watching the student-athlete’s performance at tournaments. Starting September 1of an athlete’s junior year, college coaches will already have a list of athletes they are interested in recruiting, and they can focus on getting to know those athletes. To catch the attention of college coaches prior to the official start of the recruiting process, it’s critical that student-athletes build a recruiting profile, create highlight video and compete in tournaments.
In 2017, the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) released a study on the recruiting experience for student-athletes. In the study, student-athletes revealed whether college coaches had recruited them earlier than the NCAA allows. Of the 24 NCAA governed sports, early recruiting was found to be at an all-time high in women’s college lacrosse, with 81 percent of student-athletes revealing that their first recruiting contact happened prior to their junior year. To combat the increase of early recruiting in women’s college lacrosse, USA Lacrosse and the IWLCA and IMLCA submitted a proposal to the NCAA requesting new rules on coach and athlete communication, hoping a change to the recruiting timeline would curb early recruiting and reduce some of the pressure on high school underclassmen.
The NCAA Division 1 Council approved their proposal to prohibit communication between college coaches and student-athletes until after September 1 of the athlete’s junior year. This change to the recruiting timeline allows student-athletes to focus less on college recruiting during their freshman and sophomore year and more on academics, athletic development and enjoying high school.
College coaches and student-athletes are held to the most restrictive rules at the NCAA Division 1 level. Rules vary from sport to sport.
The same NCAA Division 2 recruiting rules apply to all sports. These rules are far more flexible than those in place for NCAA Division 1 schools.
NCAA Division 3 schools have the most lenient recruiting rules of all NCAA divisions. These rules apply to all sports.
NAIA recruiting generally starts later because coaches typically recruit student-athletes who did not receive an offer from an NCAA Division 1 program. Compared to the NCAA, the NAIA has fewer rules around the recruiting process and allows college coaches and athletes to communicate throughout high school without restriction. During the recruiting process, NAIA coaches work to make sure that athletes are a good fit for the program athletically, socially and academically.
Dead periods: During this period, coaches are prohibited from any in-person contact with student-athletes and/or their parents. Athletes and coaches are still permitted to communicate digitally via phone, email, social media, etc.
Contact period: College coaches are unable to contact student-athletes, outside of providing camp and clinic information, until September 1 of their junior year. After this date, coaches and athletes are free to communicate through emails, texts, calls and direct messages. This is also when coaches can begin to extend verbal offers to recruits. Dead periods and quiet periods are the only communication restrictions that college coaches must follow after September 1 of the athlete’s junior year.
Under the NCAA Divisions 2 lacrosse recruiting calendar, student-athletes can communicate freely with coaches beginning September 1 of their junior year, aside from during one dead period:
The NCAA created the quiet period to give student-athletes a break from the rigorous recruiting process, while still allowing college coaches and athletes to communicate through NCAA-approved methods (such as, emails, texts, calls and direct messaging). During this time, D1 and D2 college coaches are prohibited from talking to prospective student-athletes in-person, on-campus and cannot visit student-athletes at their high schools, homes or during games.
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.