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2020–21 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Recruiting Rules and Calendar

Every year, the NCAA releases updated recruiting rules and calendar for each NCAA sponsored sport. These rules are designed to maintain a healthy and equal recruiting process for both college coaches and student-athletes with clear guidelines on when and how coaches and recruits can communicate. Unfortunately, these rules can be confusing and overwhelming for student-athletes and their families. We’ve created this section to help break down the water polo recruiting rules and calendar for student-athletes and their families and provide updates on changes that the NCAA makes to the recruiting process.

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

Using the NCAA water polo recruiting rules and calendar

Student-athletes and their families can quickly become overwhelmed by the college recruiting process. Whether it’s contacting a college coach or scheduling a recruiting visit, the NCAA has rules and guidelines for every step of the recruiting process. We’ve outlined the NCAA water polo recruiting rules to help student-athletes and their families understand how to navigate the process.

  1. Early recruiting: College coaches at the D1 and D2 levels cannot contact student-athletes until June 15 after a recruit’s sophomore year. Before this date, college coaches dedicate their time to evaluating recruits online, at tournaments, college camps and showcases. Coaches will also contact high school and club coaches to let them know they are interested in a student-athlete.
  2. Communication and verbal offers: All communication between college coaches at the D1 and D2 levels and student-athletes, as well as verbal offers, are prohibited until after June 15 of a recruit’s sophomore year.
  3. Official and unofficial visits: Starting August 1 of junior year, potential recruits can begin to schedule official and unofficial recruiting visits at the D1 level. Official visits are allowed June 15 after sophomore year at the D2 level and January 1 of junior year at the D3 level. There are no restrictions on unofficial visits at the D2 and D3 levels, except during a dead period. 
  4. Accepting scholarships: Student-athletes officially accept a scholarship offer by signing the National Letter of Intent (NLI). Water polo athletes can sign a scholarship offer starting on National Signing Day in November through the beginning of August. Student-athletes can view the National Sign Day dates on the NLI website.

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When can communication with college water polo coaches start?

Beginning June 15 after a recruit’s sophomore year, student-athletes can start receiving phone calls, texts and emails from college water polo coaches at the Division 1 and 2 levels. Prior to this date, no form of communication is permitted between college coaches and recruits. However, college coaches are still permitted to contact high school and club coaches to request general feedback on recruits. Communication is permitted at any time between Division 3 college coaches and student-athletes.

There are many ways that student-athletes should prepare for the recruiting process before college coaches can begin contacting them. Student-athletes are encouraged to create a list of target water polo programs where they meet the athletic and academic standards. To market their athletic talents, student-athletes should create a recruiting profile and video that showcase their skillset. Once college coaches can begin contacting recruits, student-athletes will be prepared to begin the relationship building process by first reaching out to express their interest in the program and sharing their recruiting profile and video in correspondence with coaches at their target schools.

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What to do if the coaching staff has been furloughed

At every division level, college athletic programs are furloughing employees due to financial hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. So, what steps should a student-athlete take if a coach they’ve been speaking with has been furloughed?

  1. Provide the coaching staff regular updates. While the coaching staff may be furloughed and unable to respond, student-athletes should continue sending updates on their training progress as a way to continue building their relationship with the coaching staff.
  2. Use the athletic director and college admissions team as resources. While they likely won’t be able to answer water polo-specific recruiting questions, these individuals will be able to answer more general athletic and academic questions.
  3. Reach out to current team members. Even when the coaching staff is available, it’s important for recruits to talk with current roster spot holders to ask about their experience, the team dynamic and any other questions they may have about life as a student-athlete.
  4. Keep your options open. While a recruit might be set on one program, it’s important to explore all their options. Take the time to research other opportunities to compete at the college level and make an effort to build relationships with the coaching staff at multiple programs.

New NCAA water polo recruiting rules for 2019

To create a fair and positive recruiting experience for all NCAA student-athletes and college coaches, the association re-evaluates the recruiting rules and calendar each year. In recent years, the NCAA has been dedicated to curbing early recruiting across all sports. In May 2019, the NCAA announced a change to the recruiting rules that prohibits all communication between college coaches at the D1 and D2 levels and student-athletes until after June 15 of an athlete’s sophomore year. The association also revised the date that student-athletes can start to schedule unofficial and official visits at the D1 level starting August 1 of their junior year. The purpose of pushing back the date allows recruits more time to enjoy their high school experience and develop as athletes and students.

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NCAA Division 1 water polo recruiting rules

Student-athletes will find that Division 1 sports must follow the most restrictive NCAA recruiting rules. These rules differ from sport to sport.

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NCAA Division 2 water polo recruiting rules

These recruiting rules are more flexible than those followed by Division 1 programs. All NCAA Division 2 schools follow the same recruiting rules.

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NCAA Division 3 water polo recruiting rules

Every NCAA Division 3 sport follows the same recruiting rules, which are the most lenient recruiting rules in the NCAA.

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NAIA water polo recruiting rules

Athletes who were not picked up by an NCAA program are generally recruited by NAIA programs, which means the NAIA recruiting process begins later. Student-athletes will find that the NAIA enforces fewer recruiting rules and guidelines than the NCAA, which allows college coaches to contact recruits at any point in their high school career. NAIA coaches focus their recruiting efforts on athletes that are a good fit athletically, academically and socially.

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2020–21 NCAA water polo recruiting calendar

Within the NCAA recruiting rules and calendar for all divisions are four different periods. The first is a contact period, which is when college coaches and recruits are permitted to communicate. Next is an evaluation period when coaches can complete athlete evaluations. The last two periods are an NCAA water polo dead period and quiet period, which allow for a break during the recruiting process. During these two periods, college coaches are prohibited from contacting student-athletes.

The first day that college coaches are permitted to contact student-athletes is the official start of the recruiting process for both Division 1 and 2 water polo programs. This date is June 15 after the recruit’s sophomore year. For a full list of all contact, evaluation, quiet and dead periods, visit the NCAA website.

Review the NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 recruiting calendar.

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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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