Each year, the NCAA reviews the recruiting rules and the calendar that governs the college recruiting process for coaches and student-athletes and makes updates, if necessary. In 2019, the NCAA made significant changes to these rules and calendar after Division 1 athletes reported in a 2017 NCAA survey that early recruiting had become a trend across various sports. This page details the new NCAA tennis recruiting rules and calendar and explains how they affect the recruiting process.
Before June 15 of a recruit’s sophomore year, college coaches will attend competitions and review the recruit’s NCSA Recruiting Profile to evaluate her talent. Below is a look at the tennis recruiting process from early recruiting to National Signing Day.
National Signing Day: November 11, 2021
Final signing date: August 1, 2022
While college coaches must wait until June 15 after a recruit’s sophomore year to make contact via phone and online, coaches are known to recruit athletes as early as 8th grade. What exactly does this mean? Prior to June 15, college coaches search recruiting databases and attend tennis competitions to evaluate talent and build a list of potential recruits. While recruits may not know a coach is interested in them until the first date of contact, they should be proactive in the recruiting process and create an NCSA Recruiting Profile and highlight video for coaches to evaluate before then. It’s also important to build a list of target schools and attend camps and tournaments where college coaches are present.
NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 college coaches are prohibited from contacting student-athletes until after June 15 of their sophomore year. Once contact is permitted, college tennis coaches can reach out to recruits via phone, text and email. Some college coaches will contact a recruit’s high school and club coaches prior to June 15 of the recruit’s sophomore year to gather general feedback, but they are prohibited from discussing financial offers, recruiting statements, etc. At the Division 3 level, college coaches are permitted to communicate with recruits via digital communication at any time.
A 2017 NCAA survey asked more than 15,000 Division 1 student-athletes to provide feedback on their college recruiting experience. While 68% of women’s tennis respondents reported their first recruiting contact was after sophomore year, the survey revealed that early recruiting had become a trend across multiple sports. As a result of these findings, the NCAA re-evaluated the recruiting rules. In May 2019, new NCAA recruiting rules for tennis were released that separated the start date for college coaches to begin contacting recruits and when recruits can begin visiting college campuses. The NCAA made these changes to establish a designated time for coaches and athletes to build a relationship through off-campus communication before the student-athlete’s official campus visit.
College coaches now must wait to contact or respond to recruits until June 15 after the recruit’s sophomore year. Starting August 1, recruits can schedule unofficial and official visits.
The NCAA has established a set of strict recruiting rules that Division 1 programs must follow. These rules vary from sport to sport, but the below are specific to women’s tennis:
The NCAA Division 2 recruiting rules are less restrictive than Division 1 rules and are followed by all sports.
NCAA Division 3 sponsored sports follow the most relaxed recruiting rules. These rules apply to all Division 3 programs.
The NAIA enforces fewer recruiting rules than the NCAA, which allows these coaches to contact recruits without restriction. With that said, NAIA coaches typically wait until after NCAA programs have filled their roster to begin their recruiting process, as these programs focus on recruiting athletes who were passed up by NCAA programs. NAIA coaches prioritize well-rounded recruits that are more than just a good fit athletically, but also socially and academically.
Starting June 15 after the recruit’s sophomore year, college coaches can begin making verbal offers. Recruits are invited to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) starting on National Signing Day during their senior year to officially accept an athletic scholarship.
To officially accept a scholarship offer at one of the more than 650 NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 programs that use the National Letter of Intent (NLI), recruits are asked to sign this binding agreement that guarantees their athletic scholarship for one year and serves as the official end to their recruiting process. Visit the National Letter of Intent website to learn when National Signing Day is each year.
National Signing Day: Nov. 11, 2021
Final signing date: Aug. 1, 2022
When it comes to international recruiting, coaches and athletes must follow a different set of recruiting rules that vary from country to country. International recruits also face a few challenges in the recruiting process, such as translating academic results into the American format, taking the required American standardized tests and applying for a student visa. Visit the NCAA website to review the NCAA Guide to International Academic Standards for Athletic Eligibility, visit the NCAA website.
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.