CSCAA Asks NCAA to Extend Recruiting Restrictions until April 2021

The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association (CSCAA) has requested that the NCAA extend its recruiting restrictions for college programs well beyond the current moratorium, which expires at the end of August.

In a letter released on Tuesday, the CSCAA asked the NCAA to extend the recruiting dead period until December and to extend a moratorium to on-campus visits through March of 2021.

An NCAA “dead period” restricts coaches from meeting with student-athletes in person on campus or off. The NCAA first put a dead period in place relating to the global coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, and recently extended it until at least the end of August. In making that decision, M. Grace Calhoun, the chair of the Division I Council Coordination Committee (CCC), said that the decision was made to allow “coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus.”

CSCAA Executive Director Greg Earhart laid out 3 specific concerns for requesting the extension related to the coronavirus outbreak. Last year, when the NCAA was changing recruiting restrictions, the CSCAA has also asked the NCAA to limit early recruiting in swimming, though not for coronavirus reasons.

  • Student-Athlete Health and Safety – Absent a vaccine, effective testing, and contact-tracing, on-campus visits are far too great of a risk to take during the season. Placing current student-athletes at risk of infection is simply irresponsible. By postponing visits, institutions can minimize this risk and enable programs to complete the 2020-21 season.
  • Cost – Eliminating Fall visits would produce immediate and significant savings for programs that are currently wrestling with significant losses in revenue. To date, Division I coaches have already trimmed a collective $6.2 million from their budgets.
  • Competitive Balance – Coaches are adamant in their desire for the consistent application of recruiting restrictions throughout. With states and campuses reopening in different stages and under widely varying levels of restriction this would provide a more level playing field.

USA Swimming’s next scheduled national championship events, which will be the US Open from December 2-5 and Winter Juniors from December 9-12, would fall after the CSCAA’s requested end period. Those meets provide crucial facetime between college coaches, club coaches, and prospective student-athletes in a normal year; given the current restrictions, these meets could become even more crucial.

April marks the end of the NCAA season, and not allowing recruits on campus until after the season would help mitigate risks of impacting the competitive year.

The CSCAA says that in developing the proposal, they considered the relative risk of a coach travelling to a meet and being able to self-quarantine from their college team once they get back, as compared to a prospective student-athlete coming to campus and potentially exposing an entire college team to the virus.

“We appreciate the NCAA’s Council Coordination Committee’s quick response and flexibility to a rapidly-changing environment,” said the CSCAA’s new president Joe Dykstra, the head coach at Utah. “At the same time, both coaches and PSA’s find themselves living month-to-month and this would provide everyone an opportunity to enter the recruiting process in an educated way.”

According to the CSCAA, the movement for this request came from coaching groups in 3 Power 5 conferences (which according to one coach included the Pac-12 and Big Ten).

Earhart says that he and director of member and legislative services Sam Barany reached out to take a pulse of both their swimming membership, and of other supports.

“Support was strong to begin, and unanimous among our Board and Executive Board,” Earhart says. Earhart says that as they’ve gone through this process, several coaches have called to change their stance.

At last check, Earhart says that around 87-88% of coaches polled were in favor of this move.

SwimSwam reached out to a number of Division I head coaches and recruiting coordinators and received mixed responses.

Some were against the idea of extending a ban on campus visits prematurely, saying that they would instead support a modification of official visits to reduce the risk of spreading infections. Others supported the CSCAA’s ban, citing similar safety concerns.

One interesting thread of responses to our straw poll came from at least 3 NCAA Division I coaches who told SwimSwam that they were generally in favor of rolling back the recruiting cycle to later in athletes’ high school careers, so that they were in favor of the CSCAA’s proposal for those reasons that extend beyond the connection to coronavirus. That is in line with the CSCAA’s previous requests to limit early recruiting.

NCAA Division I schools have begun welcoming student-athletes back on campus, though many schools have paused that after outbreaks either on campus or in the local area. The University of Arizona announced this week that they were delaying their student-athletes’ return to campus because of an outbreak of cases in Pima County, though only 1 Arizona student-athlete had tested positive.

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Nswim

I agree that they need to protect recruits, but as a rising senior I would hate to never be able to meet the team I’m committing to. I think that there must be other ways to keep everyone safe and happy

COSwimMom

I would completely agree. There are plenty of 2021’s that have not had any visits yet, and had planned on spring visits that were cancelled. I can see stating no visits for 2022’s until spring, but these 2021’s need the opportunity to visit before then verbally commit to a school

AZswummer

Just for admission purposes, most colleges want a decision by April of senior year. Meeting the team is SO critical to a recruit because the team culture needs to be highly considered. Don’t deny kids this opportunity. Don’t have them stay overnight with the team but please give them a chance to interact. If you don’t, the transfer rate will be crazy.

SwimFan49

If this is implemented, I wonder if we will see a correlation in increased transfers among this HS senior class a couple of years from now.

JCO

There will likely be a higher transfer rate a few years from now for this class, but not all because of the pandemic. The class of 2021 was the class where commitments in the fall of junior year became very popular for the first time. Before, it was only the very best guys

B1Guy!

Might see more kids staying in-state or closer to home too. Familiarity

Anonymous

Staying closer to home where they most likely will know swimmers on the team and have a better feel for the coaches and chemistry of the team, maybe even familiar with the facilities. I know most of the meets we attend(ed) were at colleges.

KCBMom

This would, however, hurt kids who have NO D1 schools in their state. They have to travel to find their teams.

SwimFan49

Wow, while I get the desire to protect current athletes, this is sure a tough blow for the high school class of ’21. Many of them had their spring visits cancelled already, and this would basically have them commit without meeting the coaches or team in person.

Swim Coach

Easy for the Power 5 conferences to say, since they have the majority of their class of 2021 already visited &/or confirmed. This would be very bad for the rest of the class of 2021, especially those looking at Mid-Major schools

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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