When can colleges start recruiting for women’s track and field programs? It’s the first thing families want to know. In general, college coaches can begin contacting track and field student-athletes starting June 15 after their sophomore year. This includes emails, calls, texts, recruiting letters and verbal offers.
However, keep in mind that many programs are recruiting before that point. Coaches review stats, follow rankings, evaluate athletes and compile their list of potential prospects ahead of time. That way, they know exactly who they want to contact when June 15 rolls around. In this section, we break down the NCAA track and field recruiting rules, as well as the regulations for the NAIA, and take a closer look at how college coaches build their list of potential prospects.
READ MORE: NCAA’s new rules will grant student-athletes the opportunity to earn money from their name, image and likeness (NIL).
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.
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:
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.
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:
NCAA Division 2 recruiting rules are slightly more lenient, mostly around visits:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 8 (7 a.m.) – 10 (7 a.m.), 2021 (during the 48 hours prior to 7 a.m. on the initial date for the signing of the National Letter of Intent)
Year-round recruiting is permitted.
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.