NCSA: How new NCAA recruiting rules affect seniors

USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities and play at the college level. Joe is a former college athlete and coach at the NAIA level, where he earned an NAIA National Championship. Joe is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience and dedication, along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community, have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.

Every time the NCAA updates its recruiting rules, there can be a scramble from college coaches, potential recruits and their families to figure out how the new rules will affect them and the athletic recruiting process. We recently wrote about how the new NCAA recruiting rules impact underclassmen, but student-athletes later in their high school careers may have a lot of questions, too. That’s why this quick guide for seniors can come in handy during your recruiting journey.

When the new NCAA Division I recruiting rules took effect on May 1, the timing for certain recruiting activities essentially changed. While it can be difficult to predict exactly how rule changes will impact each specific sport because of different timelines, we can at least make educated guesses about how things can play out.

What are the new rules? The new NCAA rules apply to every Division I sport except football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, baseball and men’s and women’s lacrosse. After moving up the start date for Division I visits last year, the NCAA recently passed new rules to help slow down the practice of early recruiting. With the new rules, the timing and nature of communication between college coaches and athletes become limited. Here are the major updates:

· No communication between an athlete and coach until June 15 after sophomore year.

· No verbal offers or commitments from student-athletes until June 15 after sophomore year.

· No official or unofficial visits until Aug. 1 of junior year.

· No off-campus contact until Aug. 1 of junior year.

Coach communications

The new rules directly impact the recruiting timeline for underclassmen, but there are certain ripple effects that can also impact seniors. In the past, coaches could talk with any athlete as long as the athlete initiated a phone call, allowing coaches to pick up the phone and listen. Now, that loophole is closed, and underclassmen can’t engage in any communication with a Division I coach until June 15 after sophomore year. This includes any phone, text, email or social media communication between a parent or athlete and a coach.

This means that there will be fewer athletes making commitments at an early stage, and the part of the recruiting timeline that lines up with junior year will be even more important than it previously was. While everyone will be rushing to secure commitments and roster spots junior year, this may actually lead to more prospects falling through the cracks and continuing their recruiting process throughout senior year. What’s difficult to predict at this point is whether coaches will hold back some of their roster spots for senior recruits, or fill them all with younger recruits. This also depends on the recruiting timeline of your particular sport.

Either way, it will be important to be prepared to continue your recruiting process throughout senior year and take advantage of every opportunity. Your focus should be on continuing to communicate with coaches senior year. If you are not already in communication with college coaches at this point, you need to be. Be prepared to contact college coaches and share your highlight or skills video.

Official and unofficial visits

Since official visits (financed by the college) and unofficial visits (financed by the family) are not allowed until Aug. 1 of junior year, this may also lead some families to keep taking visits later through high school and into senior year. As a senior, if you haven’t made a commitment yet, keep taking visits throughout the year and interact with coaches if your budget allows for it.

Recruiting Checklist

There’s plenty you can still do to keep your recruiting process moving along senior year.

· Keep your NCSA Recruiting Profile up to date. Update your personal preferences and academic transcript to get the most accurate college matches.

· Target specific college camps or prospect showcases where you can obtain a third-party evaluation of your skills, update your key stats and perform in front of college coaches.

· Re-take the ACT/SAT and stay on track academically. Check your classes to make sure you meet NCAA Eligibility requirements.

· Determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

· Research college rosters to see if there are openings.

· Show your interest in a program. Fill out recruiting questionnaires at schools you’re interested in by visiting their athletic website.

· Stay connected. Follow programs and college coaches on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Sure, NCAA rules can get confusing at times. But keeping track of them and understanding the recruiting timeline can help families and athletes find good opportunities and not have to rush into a decision. Make sure to keep up with them, as well as the NCSA College Recruiting Guide.

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