What you need to know about the NCAA women’s track and field recruiting rules
The NCAA track and field recruiting rules and calendar dictates when and how coaches can contact student-athletes. It’s designed to curb early recruiting and prevent coaches from overloading athletes, especially underclassmen, with calls, emails and texts. Here’s how it works: The NCAA outlines specific time periods each year for when D1 and D2 coaches can contact potential recruits, and which days are off limits from actively recruiting.
These regulations are helpful for a couple of reasons: Families can use it as a way to stay on track throughout their recruiting journey. For example, if a student-athlete isn’t hearing from Division 1 college coaches by their junior year, then they should consider expanding their options and reaching out to coaches in Division 2 and 3 instead.
Moreover, it’s a great way for coaches and student-athletes to organize their recruiting efforts throughout the year. For example, many seniors in high school choose to arrange campus visits during a contact period, when they can speak directly with the coach and learn more about the program.
One of the goals in putting these rules and guidelines in place was to ensure recruits could complete their coursework for graduation and enjoy their own personal time while not being overwhelmed by constant contact from college recruiters. This framework also allows athletes to follow a similar timeline as their non-athlete peers on their path to college.
New NCAA women’s track and field recruiting rules
In May 2019 the NCAA adopted new recruiting rules that limit early recruiting among Division 1 schools. These regulations were enforced to give student-athletes ample time to make their college decision, like their non-athlete peers, in sports where early recruiting was an ongoing problem.
However, for women’s track and field, early recruiting is not a prevalent issue and families can expect the recruiting timeline to remain mostly the same. NCAA research shows that 82% of track and field athletes receive their first communication from a coach during their junior or senior year. Coaches are typically reaching out to student-athletes during their junior year, especially in the spring season, and wrapping up their rosters the summer before senior year.
Here is a breakdown of the new recruiting rules and their impact on the NCAA Division 1 track and field recruiting calendar:
- Coach Communication. No communication between a student-athlete or parent/guardian and a D1 college coach is allowed until June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year. This includes any phone calls, texts, emails and social messages, like Twitter DMs. Previously, college coaches could discuss recruiting with freshmen or sophomores if an athlete initiated contact by calling a coach and the coach answered, or if a recruit visited them on an unofficial visit.
- Recruiting Conversations. Coaches are not allowed to have any kind of recruiting conversations with track and field recruits, their parents/guardians or the athlete’s club or high school coach until June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year. This means they can’t make verbal offers or hint at a potential scholarship. The only conversation a college coach can have regarding freshman and sophomore prospects is if asked by the club/high school coach if they (the coach) are recruiting the prospect, the college coach can reply “yes” or “no.”
- Official Visits. Recruits can now take official visits to college campuses starting August 1 of their junior year. Official visits include any visit to a college campus in which part or all of the visit – transportation, accommodations and meals, tickets to a home sports event – are paid for by the school’s athletic department. Previously, track and field athletes had to wait until September 1 of their junior year. That said, many track and field athletes choose to schedule official visits during the season.
- Unofficial Visits. Before the new rules, recruits were allowed to make unofficial visits and meet with a coach anytime they wanted. Now, recruits must wait until August 1 of their junior year (same as official visits). Unofficial visits, which are paid for entirely by a recruit’s family, give student-athletes an opportunity to explore campus, meet with the head track and field coach and potentially receive an early verbal scholarship offer. Recruits can still visit campuses but will not be allowed to meet with a coach or discuss recruiting until the beginning of their junior year.
- Off Campus Contact. Off-campus contact, such as at an athlete’s high school track meet or a recruiting event, is also prohibited before August 1 of the athlete’s junior year. Previously, coaches could talk to underclassmen attending camps and clinics on their campus about the recruiting process and whether they were interested in their track and field programs.
When can college coaches start recruiting for women’s track?
NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 coaches are permitted to contact recruits beginning June 15 after their sophomore year. Then, on August 1 before junior year, student-athletes can take unofficial and official visits. Typically, Division 1 and top-tier Division 2 track and field programs set the pace; even though Division 3 and NAIA programs can contact athletes at any point during high school, these coaches usually recruit into senior year.
Families often think that recruiting starts when coaches can personally reach out to athletes. But the truth is that coaches are doing a lot of work behind the scenes before this point—they follow rankings, send out questionnaires and evaluate athletes ahead of time, so they know exactly who they want to reach out to when they can. They also discover recruits who may not have normally fallen on their radar by evaluating online profiles emailed to them by student-athletes.
That’s why we always tell families to be proactive in their recruiting, especially if they’re interested in competing at an NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 program. Most NCAA Division 1 coaches begin making verbal offers during junior year and finalize their rosters before senior year. Top Division 2 schools follow suit, while other Division 2, Division 3 and NAIA programs continue to recruit throughout senior year.
NCAA Division 1 women’s track and field recruiting rules
The NCAA Division 1 track and field recruiting calendar regulates when and how coaches can contact athletes. NCAA Division 1 sports follow the most restrictive set of rules:
- Any time: College coaches can send recruits general materials, such as questionnaires, camp information, non-athletic information about the school and materials published by the NCAA.
- June 15 after sophomore year: Student-athletes can officially receive personal contact and recruiting materials. Coaches can call athletes, send text messages, direct messages and emails, and make verbal offers.
- August 1 before junior year: Recruits can take unofficial and official visits to schools. Student-athletes are permitted to take one official visit per school and are limited to five total official visits. Many track and field recruits visit colleges in the spring of their junior year, so they can meet the team and visit the campus during the season.
NCAA Division 2 women’s track and field recruiting rules
NCAA Division 2 recruiting rules are slightly more lenient, mostly around visits:
- Any time: Coaches can send recruits general materials, including questionnaires, camp brochures, NCAA materials and non-athletic information about the school. Student-athletes can take unofficial visits and aren’t restricted in the number of unofficial visits they take.
- June 15 after sophomore year: College coaches can call, text, email, direct message and conduct off-campus contact with an athlete and/or their family. Student-athletes can also begin taking official visits at this time. They’re allowed one visit per college, with unlimited total visits to Division 2 schools.
NCAA Division 3 women’s track and field recruiting rules
NCAA Division 3 women’s track and field recruiting rules are the most relaxed regulations of all the NCAA divisions. Like Division 2, the same rules apply to all sports at this level.
- Any time: Athletes can receive recruiting information (athletic and nonathletic) from schools. Coaches can communicate with prospective recruits via phone call and all digital communications (email, text message, DM, etc.) with no limitations. Athletes can also make an unlimited number of unofficial visits at any time. Even though NCAA Division 3 coaches can contact recruits at any point in high school, they typically reach out during junior or senior year.
- After sophomore year: College coaches can begin communicating with athletes and/or their parents off-campus at their residence or school.
- January 1 junior year: Athletes can begin taking official visits. They’re allowed one visit per college and can take as many unofficial visits to Division 3 programs as they like. Most recruits will visit Division 3 colleges during their junior year when they’re in season, as well as their senior year.
NAIA women’s track and field recruiting rules
As a collegiate athletic organization independent of the NCAA, NAIA programs follow a separate set of recruiting rules. Like NCAA Division 3, the NAIA women’s track and field recruiting rules allows coaches to contact prospective athletes at any point during high school. However, most coaches tend to begin reaching out during junior and senior year.
2019-2020 NCAA Division 1 women’s track and field recruiting calendar
The NCAA Track and Field Recruiting Calendar dictates when and how college coaches can proactively recruit athletes. The calendar is broken into different periods: the evaluation period, dead period, quiet period and contact period.
Evaluation Period: During the evaluation period coaches can watch an athlete compete in person or visit their school. Coaches aren’t allowed to communicate with the athlete (or parents) off the college campus. They can still contact recruits through text, email and direct messages.
- August 1-21, 2019
Contact Period: All communication is permitted between a D1 coach and a prospective student-athlete during the contact period. Coaches can also watch you compete and have face-to-face contact with you or your parents at a track meet or other competitions, at your school and in your home.
- August 22-December 8, 2019 (except during a dead period)
- January 2 through July 31, 2020 (except during a dead period)
Dead Period: During a dead period, coaches can’t talk to recruits at their college campus, a camp or the athlete’s school. However, they can communicate via digital channels, such as texting.
- November 11-14, 2019
- November 23, 2010
- December 9-January 1, 2020
- March 13-14, 2020
- June 10-13, 2020
2019-2020 NCAA Division 2 women’s track and field recruiting calendar
The NCAA D2 women’s track and field recruiting calendar is much more simplified and most other D2 sports follow the same schedule.
Dead Period: November 11-13, 2019
2019-2020 NCAA Division 3 and NAIA women’s track and field recruiting calendar
Year-round recruiting is permitted.