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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 June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year, including verbal offers, emails, calls, texts and recruiting letters. 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. 

READ MORE: NCAA’s new rules will grant student-athletes the opportunity to earn money from their name, image and likeness (NIL).

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. One goal in creating these rules was to curb early recruiting. However, athletes and coaches have found ways to establish contact well before the timeline established by the NCAA. Should you go to a soccer college?

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: While student-athletes and D1 and D2 college coaches cannot communicate—via email, phone or text—until June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year, coaches can begin looking at athletes much earlier. Even if coaches can’t contact those recruits, they are going to look at a student-athlete’s video and grades, and potentially reach out to their club and/or high school coaches to make sure the student-athlete is someone they want to recruit. College coaches are not going to wait until June 15 after a prospect’s sophomore year to begin evaluating them. Make sure your profile is up to date with your latest videos and transcripts and update it regularly so coaches can see your progress.

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The importance of June 15th for soccer recruiting

For soccer recruits, NCAA D1 and D2 coaches can’t reach out to athletes until after June 15 of their sophomore year, but this doesn’t mean recruits should wait until this date to contact coaches. Former NCAA and NAIA coaches Lindsey Boldt and Luis Cortell share the importance of being proactive before and during the contact period that begins on June 15.

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

One of the most important dates for an athlete to remember is June 15 after their sophomore year. Before this date, any off-campus communication between a coach and a recruit is prohibited according to NCAA rules.

During this time, club or high school coaches will play a key role in how a college coach can contact an athlete. College coaches may initiate contact with young athletes by working through their club or high school coach.

While club or high school coaches can relay information between the athlete and college coach, these conversations cannot be related to recruiting. College coaches can only express interest in an athlete.

College coaches also use camps and clinics as an opportunity to evaluate prospective recruits. However, college coaches and athletes may only communicate at camps as long as it’s after June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year.

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

The included NCAA women’s soccer recruiting rules and 2020–21 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 2020–2021 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:

Sophomore year 

Junior year 

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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:

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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:

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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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2020–2021 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. 

Contact period: Outside the above dead periods, most communication between athletes and coaches is fair game after June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore 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 June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore 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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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.

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