New rules aim to make college athlete recruiting experience similar to student body’s
April 18, 2018 2:45pm | By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
Starting with the next school year, most prospective student-athletes will follow a recruiting model that resembles the schedule other students follow when choosing where to go to college. The Division I Council made the decision when it met Tuesday and Wednesday in Indianapolis.
The new recruiting model allows potential student-athletes more time to make thoughtful decisions about their next steps after high school. The shift was supported by the national Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
“These changes will improve the recruiting experience for prospective student-athletes and coaches and lead to better decision-making,” said Blake James, Council chair and Miami (Florida) director of athletics. “Ultimately, a better recruiting process will improve the college experience for Division I student-athletes.”
The changes will affect several aspects of the recruiting model. For student-athletes in sports other than football and basketball, official visits now can begin Sept. 1 of a prospect’s junior year in high school instead of the first day of classes for senior year.
Football changed its recruiting model last year to add earlier official visits, starting April 1 of the junior year through the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June.
Men’s basketball allows official visits Jan. 1 of a prospective student-athlete’s junior year. Women’s basketball recruits can take an official visit beginning the Thursday following the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship game of the prospective student-athlete’s junior year in high school.
Additionally, athletics departments can’t participate in a recruit’s unofficial visit until Sept. 1 of the recruit’s junior year in high school, and recruiting conversations during a school’s camp or clinic can’t happen before Sept. 1 of the junior year. Both rules apply to all sports but football and basketball, which have their own rules.
The changes are based on the work of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Student-Athlete Experience Committee, and guided by feedback from student-athletes, coaches, athletics directors and compliance administrators. They are considered a first step toward regulating a recruiting process that can begin in middle school — and sometimes earlier. The Student-Athlete Experience Committee will continue to examine the recruiting environment, with communications (telephone, email, text), verbal and written offers, and off-campus contacts on the agenda for the next phase.
In addition to the recruiting model, the Council eliminated restrictions on the sale of alcohol at Division I championships. The decision comes nearly two years after a pilot program that allowed alcohol sales in general seating at the College World Series and Women’s College World Series expanded to include the Football Championship Subdivision’s championship game, wrestling, men’s lacrosse championships in all three divisions, men's ice hockey and women's volleyball.
The Council tabled a proposal that would allow football student-athletes to participate in up to four games per year without using a season of competition. Proponents argue that late-season injuries and other factors often require student-athletes who hadn’t played all season to burn a year of eligibility for a small number of games. Others wonder whether the proposal could be applied to other sports, as well, whether the number of games in the proposal is appropriate, and whether the timing of the four games matters.
The Football Oversight and Student-Athlete Experience Committees will review the proposal and provide feedback.
The Football Championship Subdivision removed restrictions on employing individuals associated with prospective student-athletes at a school’s camp or clinic and struck rules preventing noncoaching staff members with football-specific duties from working at camps or clinics at their own school or other four-year NCAA member schools. Proponents argued that the rules, adopted last year, were not needed in the FCS because hiring people to secure recruits is not an issue in that subdivision.
Council members from Football Bowl Subdivision schools defeated the same proposals for that subdivision, with some calling the proposals a “weakening” of the comprehensive football recruiting package adopted last year.
Both subdivisions adopted proposals preventing former student-athletes from participating in practice at their former schools. Sponsored by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the proposal is intended to negate competitive and recruiting advantages schools potentially could gain by allowing former student-athletes to practice with the current team.
Council members adjusted the effective date of the notification-of-transfer proposal to Oct. 15, 2018. The proposal would eliminate schools’ ability to influence athletics scholarships provided to student-athletes. It includes the creation of a national database for transfer student-athletes to make it known that they wish to be recruited by other schools.
The Council also modified the database portion of the notification-of-transfer proposal to give schools two business days after a student notifies the school he or she will transfer to enter a student-athlete’s name into the database. The group plans to vote on the proposal at its June meeting.
The Council also approved noncontroversial legislation permanently changing the deadline to Nov. 1 each year for the Council to submit legislation. The Council had provided a waiver each year for specific issues, and members anticipated a third request in 2018. Instead of continuing to provide waivers, the Council opted to change the deadline. The deadline for conference-sponsored proposals will remain Sept. 1.
Separate from the other recruiting legislation, the Council also adopted noncontroversial legislation pertinent to recruiting in softball. The new rules prevent phone calls between coaches and recruits until Sept. 1 of the prospective student-athlete’s junior year and allow off-campus recruiting contact to begin the same date. The changes were requested by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and align with similar changes adopted in lacrosse last year.