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NCAA Recruiting Rules and Calendar for Women's Soccer

When can women’s soccer coaches reach out to athletes? Generally speaking, almost all forms of contact are allowed starting Sept. 1 of an athlete’s junior year, including emails, calls, texts, recruiting letters and official visits. For some divisions, coaches can reach out earlier. In this section, we break down the women’s soccer recruiting rules and calendar for the NCAA and NAIA.

How to use the NCAA women’s soccer recruiting rules and calendar

The NCAA has set up certain rules around when—and how—college coaches can contact potential recruits. Their goal in creating these rules was to make sure elite recruits don’t get overwhelmed by constant contact from coaches. However, early recruiting has become increasingly popular, and athletes and coaches have found ways to establish contact well before the timeline established by the NCAA.

In fact, in NCSA’s survey of D1 women’s soccer coaches, 7% reported that they began evaluating talent before 9th grade, 45% began evaluating talent in 9th grade, and 47% began in 10th grade. Simply put, athletes who are serious about playing for a D1 women’s soccer program need to get the recruitment process started early and reach out to coaches freshman year of high school—or even earlier.

Insider tip: Student-athletes can reach out to college coaches at any time and should take advantage of this by sending introductory emails to coaches, complete with their highlight videos. We also recommend that student-athletes call college coaches, as they can always answer the phone, no matter how old potential recruits are. Freshman or sophomore recruits calling a D1 coach who doesn’t answer should leave a quick voicemail and say when they’ll be calling next. Coaches can’t call back, but they can make sure to pick up the phone next time.

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How do coaches contact women’s soccer players before the NCAA recruiting rules allow it?

The easiest way for college coaches to initiate contact with young athletes is by working through their club or high school coach. The college coach can email or call an athlete’s club or high school coach to set up a phone call between the college coach and the student-athlete. The athlete can then call the college coach at the agreed upon time and the college coach can answer the phone.

From there, the club or high school coach can continue to relay information for the athlete and college coach. Or, the athlete can call and email the college coach themselves. The NCAA recruiting rules only limit when the college coach can proactively reach out to the high school athlete, not when the athlete can establish contact with the college coach.

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Complying with NCAA recruiting rules and calendar for women’s soccer

The included NCAA women’s soccer recruiting rules and 2018-19 NCAA recruiting calendar can help families make sure they’re on track in the recruiting process. The NCAA women’s soccer recruiting rules show student-athletes the types of communication to expect from college coaches based on their high school year. The NCAA recruiting calendar for women’s soccer outlines the specific recruiting periods throughout the year, which regulate how coaches can communicate with athletes throughout the school year.

It’s important to remember that the coaches—not the recruits—are responsible for complying with the NCAA women’s soccer recruiting rules. In other words, student-athletes don’t need to worry about sitting down and memorizing the exact dates coaches can start contacting them. For more information about the NCAA women’s soccer recruiting rules, check out the 2017-2018 Guide for the College-bound Student-athlete.

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Division 1 NCAA recruiting rules for women’s soccer

These rules break down when athletes can receive specific forms of communication from coaches based on their year in high school:

  • September 1 of junior year: Coaches can start sending athletes all forms of private electronic correspondence, including text messages, instant messages, direct messages, and emails, as well as all recruiting materials. Coaches can start calling athletes at this point and athletes may begin taking official visits. Athletic departments can also start participating in recruits’ unofficial visits. Additionally, coaches can begin initiating recruiting conversations with athletes during camps and clinics.
  • July 1 after junior year: Coaches can start conducting off-campus communications with athletes at their home or school.
  • Senior year: Women’s soccer coaches can conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents no more than three times.
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Division 2 NCAA recruiting rules for women’s soccer

The NCAA women’s soccer recruiting rules for Division 2 schools are slightly more relaxed than those for Division 1, with most contact starting in the summer of the athlete’s junior year:

  • Any time: Athletes can receive brochures for camps, questionnaires, NCAA materials and non-athletic recruiting publications.
  • June 15 before junior year: Coaches may begin calling athletes. They can also conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents. At this time, athletes may start taking official visits.
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Division 3 NCAA recruiting rules for women’s soccer

D3 women’s soccer colleges have the most relaxed recruiting rules among NCAA division levels:

  • 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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NAIA women’s soccer recruiting rules

The NAIA has fewer recruiting rules than the NCAA. NAIA coaches can contact student-athletes anytime during high school. NAIA recruiting tends to start a little later than NCAA D1 recruiting and closer to the D2 recruiting period, as NAIA coaches see which athletes just missed the cut to compete at a D1 school. They also spend more time making sure that their school is the right fit for athletes socially and academically, as well as athletically.

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2018–2019 women’s soccer recruiting calendar

Throughout the year, there are certain time periods set forth by the NCAA that regulate the way coaches can recruit athletes at that time. Remember: It’s up to the coach to follow these recruiting rules. However, it’s also important for families to know what to expect from coaches throughout the year. For example, student-athletes want to avoid planning their campus visits during a dead period, as the coach will not be able to meet with them during that time.

Dead periods: Coaches may not have any in-person contact with recruits and/or their parents. In other words, coaches are not allowed to talk to recruits at their college campus, the athlete’s school, an athletic camp or even the grocery store. Athletes and coaches are still allowed to communicate via phone, email, social media and other digital communication channels. 

  • Division 1: Feb. 4-7, 2019 (Monday through Thursday of the initial week for the signing of the National Letter of Intent)
  • Division 2: April 15 (7 a.m.) – 17 (7 a.m.), 2019 (during the 48 hours prior to 7 a.m. on the initial date for the spring signing of the National Letter of Intent)

Contact period: Outside the above dead periods, most communication between athletes and coaches is fair game after September 1 of an athlete’s junior year. Coaches can initiate contact and respond to emails, texts, calls and direct messages from athletes and their parents through any NCAA-approved method. Before September 1 of an athlete’s junior year, coaches can be contacted but they cannot respond outside of camp and clinic information. The contact period encompasses any times throughout the calendar year that are not part of the dead period.

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