With new recruiting legislation comes a host of adjustments for both the student-athletes, the clubs and the college coaches; and this isn’t a static thing. The challenge is to figure out how it affects the athletes’ recruiting timelines and how coaches can put young athletes in a position to be successful and empowered given the current rules.
Here is information on the most recent NCAA Division I recruiting legislation changes as of August 2018, and the proposed changes that, if approved, could take effect in 2019.
Current Recruiting Rules:
- Receiving phone calls: Allowed after September 1 of prospect’s junior year (the prospect may initiate phone calls at anytime)
Proposed legislation would change it to June 15 at end of sophomore year; same date even if initiated by prospect
- Phone calls/texts are allowed within 24 hours of visits as well (regardless of age of prospect)
- Email/Text/Mail: Allowed to receive after September 1 of prospect’s junior year (the prospect may initiate at anytime)
Proposed legislation would change it to June 15 at end of sophomore year
- Off-campus contacts are allowed after July 1 following junior year Discussion to change it to August 1 before junior year.
- Evaluation Days/Camp: A Division 1 coach working another camp outside of 50 miles of their campus will count toward their 80 evaluation days.
- Recruiting Calendar: A Division 1 coach would only be allowed out recruiting (evaluation periods): September 1 – November 30 (other than NLI signing week), Thursday of President’s weekend – May 1 (other than NLI signing week), and 1st weekend in June – July 31
- Offers: A Division I coach can make a verbal offer to a student-athlete, no matter the age. One proposed change that would have a big impact on the recruiting process is a Division 1 coach would not be allowed to provide an oral offer (or indicate that an offer will be made) of financial aid, admission or membership of the team before August 1 of the prospect’s junior year.
- All proposed changes will be discussed in January and voted upon in April.
Below are points of emphasis to communicate with the student-athletes in your club who are pursuing the opportunity to play at the collegiate level.
Freshman and Sophomores:
- Student-Athletes can be responsible for researching and initiating college visits with more than athletics in mind. The emphasis of these visits can be more on size of school, academics, location, distance from home, climate and overall campus feel.
- The change should allow players to focus more on improving and putting themselves in a position to grow as a volleyball player without also trying to navigate having to make decisions about college that, maybe, a 15 year old is not really prepared to make.
- College coaches will still be able to evaluate at tournaments, so the performance element won’t go away and playing for a club that provides exposure at tournaments is still important. But, without coaches making offers to sophomores and freshman, there’s more time for athletes to grow and develop, and be seen by a coach multiple times before their junior year.
- Camps/clinics are still a great opportunity to work with a coach and evaluate coaching styles, staff, and training environment.
Juniors and Seniors:
- If they have done their homework above (#1), athletes should be able to prioritize interest from schools based on all that they learned prior to their official and unofficial visits and offers from college coaches.
- Playing for a club and with a team that will give athletes exposure is very important, and playing for a club that provides assistance during this time is extremely important. With a smaller window, there’s likely to be a lot more activity for student-athletes in a shorter period of time.
- Deciding where to take your official visits will be important. Official visits will become visits, rather than a chance for seniors to have a free trip to the school to which they’ve already committed.
- Decisions will need to be made much faster.
One important general outcome of the new rules that is not directly related to timelines is the potential for Division 2, Division 3 and NAIA programs to have more visibility in front of the athletes. Sometimes athletes who may be better fit for a Division 2 or Division 3 school don’t bother looking because it’s not “Division 1.” Then they end up disappointed with the school they picked because the driving force behind their decision was the belief that Division 1 is better than Division 2 or 3. But some athletes, based on reasons other than volleyball ability, such as their academics, interests, lifestyle, etc can be better suited for Division 2, Division 3, or NAIA programs. Since there are currently no changes for Division 2 and 3 recruiting legislation, these programs could have the chance at recruiting those student athletes, rather than waiting for the athletes who are still looking for whatever options they might have left.
Like any change, there are going to be adjustments that every club, student-athlete, and college coach must make. These changes can give student athletes time to research schools and focus on improving their volleyball skills. They can give college coaches more time to evaluate athlete, and can allow both the athlete and the college program to find the best fit, so that ultimately, a young student-athlete can have a fantastic college career.
For related reading on the volleyball recruiting process click HERE. For more education for student athletes on the volleyball recruiting process click HERE. For more recruiting resources for volleyball clubs click HERE.
About the Author
This article was a collaborative piece written by Carolina Union Volleyball Club Director John Brannon, and JVA Director of Marketing, Education and Partner Relations Briana Schunzel. University of Northern Coloroado Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Lyndsey Oates provided a PowerPoint on the new NCAA Division I recruiting legislation and the proposed changes. Kennesaw State Women’s Volleyball Assistant Coach Garrett Bitter also shared information on the new NCAA Division I recruiting legislation and the proposed changes in an interview.