Volleyball is well known for its accelerated recruiting timeline. While the NCAA is trying to crack down on early recruiting, the reality is that the volleyball recruiting process is incredibly competitive and coaches are looking to lock down top talent as soon as possible.
The NCAA volleyball recruiting rules and calendar are in place to regulate how and when coaches can start proactively contacting. The NCAA provides Division 1 coaches with the strictest rules, as they tend to start the recruiting process the earliest of all the divisions. Division 2 coaches also have a specific set of rules around when coaches can start reaching out to recruits, but they are slightly more relaxed than at the D1 level. Division 3 and NAIA coaches have the most freedom in their recruiting timelines and are able to contact athletes at most times.
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We can’t stress this enough: The NCAA volleyball recruiting rules and calendar regulate when coaches can proactively reach out to prospects. These rules are in place to prevent elite athletes from getting bombarded with recruiting interest at a young age and provide some relief from recruiting contact at certain points throughout the year.
However, athletes can—and should—reach out to college coaches at any point. Once an athlete has decided that they are committed to playing college volleyball, they should do their research, figure out which schools she’s interested in and then start proactively contacting coaches. The athlete should fill out the program’s recruiting questionnaire (usually available on the school’s volleyball website) to get on the coach’s radar and start getting alerts from that coach. She can also send initial emails with information about who she is as a student-athlete, and she can call the coach.
NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 volleyball coaches can contact athletes starting June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year of high school. This includes extending verbal offers, electronic communications (such as emails, texts, instant messages, etc.) and phone calls are acceptable at this time.
Effective May 1, 2019, the NCAA passed new recruiting rule changed intended to slow down the trend of coaches offering scholarships to athletes as young as 7th and 8th grade. While the impact of these rules on the volleyball recruiting timeline is still unknown, the intent is to give athletes a little more time to figure out what they are looking for in a college and develop their skills before they get bombarded with scholarship offers.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the changes, which are in effect for all Division 1 college volleyball teams:
Previously, coaches were prohibited from initiating contact with a recruit, but if an athlete called a coach, they could speak on the phone. That is no longer allowed. There is zero off-campus communication allowed between a coach and a recruit before June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year.
Despite this change, coaches still use camps and clinics as an opportunity to evaluate and start communicating with prospective recruits.
Quick refresher: Unofficial visits are any campus visits paid for entirely by the recruit’s family. Before the rule change, unofficial visits were an easy way for underclassmen to visit a college campus, meet with the coach and get an early verbal offer. However, if athletes want to take unofficial visits now, they cannot schedule them with the coach or athletic department until August 1 before junior year. Before that time, they should treat the unofficial visit just like any other student would. If the recruit happens to bump into the coach on campus, they can’t have any recruiting conversations at that time. It’s difficult to predict the impact of these changes on volleyball recruiting. While these changes limit when recruiting conversations begin, they actually allow college coaches and athletes to start communicating earlier. For D1 prospects, the recruiting floodgates will open June 15 after sophomore year, with verbal offers and contact with college coaches starting on the same day. A big shift will come on August 1 before an athlete’s junior year, when they can begin official and unofficial visits.Recruits should have all their research and groundwork done before June 15 after their sophomore year, so they can hit the ground running when that day comes.
The NCAA Division 1 volleyball recruiting rules restrict when and how D1 volleyball coaches can actively start communicating with prospects. The most important date for D1 volleyball players is June 15 after their sophomore year. At this point, coaches can extend verbal offers and are allowed almost all forms of communication.
The most important date in the NCAA Division 2 volleyball recruiting rules is June 15 after sophomore year of high school. At this time all contact is permitted.
D3 volleyball colleges have the most relaxed NCAA recruiting rules of all the division levels. Most contact is allowed at any time and recruits are only restricted in when they can start taking official visits and have off-campus contact with coaches.
The NAIA gives a lot of freedom to its coaches in the recruiting process, and it does not restrict when or how coaches can reach out to high school athletes. Though there are fewer rules, NAIA coaches do tend to start the recruiting process a little later than NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 coaches.
The NCAA volleyball recruiting calendar works in coordination with the NCAA volleyball recruiting rules. The rules explain when coaches can contact recruits based on the recruit’s year in high school. The calendar explains what type of contact is permitted throughout the school year.
For example, imagine it’s November 10 of a D1 recruit’s junior year. The NCAA volleyball recruiting rules show that the recruit can be contacted by college coaches, as well as go on unofficial and official visits. However, according to the NCAA volleyball recruiting calendar, November 10 falls in a dead period, so that recruit shouldn’t plan on taking a campus visit, because D1 coaches aren’t permitted to have in-person contact with recruits during dead periods.
The D2 NCAA volleyball recruiting calendar is much less restrictive than the D1 calendar. For D2 volleyball, all dates not specified as part of the dead period should be treated like a contact period. D3 volleyball doesn’t have a recruiting calendar, with the entire school year treated like a contact period.
Contact Period: During this time, coaches can email, text, call, direct message and contact athletes and their parents through any NCAA-approved method.
Evaluation Period: Throughout the evaluation period, coaches are allowed to watch an athlete compete in person or visit them at their school or home. However, there are some specific rules about where coaches can evaluate athletes, so pay close attention to whether coaches can evaluate athletes at school events, non-school events or both.
Quiet Period: The quiet period is a time when coaches may not have face-to-face contact with recruits off the college campus, such as at an athlete’s school, or at an athlete’s games and tournaments. In other words, the coach can only talk to recruits on the coach’s campus or through any other approved electronic means of communication.
Dead Period: During the dead period, coaches may not have any in-person contact with recruits or their families. Coaches can still keep in touch with recruits via phone, email, social media and other approved electronic means of communication.
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.