The NCAA Division I Council has extended its recruiting dead period through May 31. This continues the ban on in-person recruiting activities that began last spring when the coronavirus pandemic first hit. The Council did, however, say that their next step is to begin planning for a transition back to recruiting activities after June 1, rather than continuing to extend the moratorium.
As part of the vote, members also committed to providing clarity on plans for the transition back to recruiting calendars, including potential modifications for the return to in-person recruiting activity, no later than April 15.
The oversight committees for Division I football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball recommended the extension because of COVID-19 pandemic uncertainty and continued “concern regarding in-person interaction among recruits and their families, current student-athletes and school staff.”
The two issues in play are the potential for recruits coming to campus. One is the potential to cause spread among coaches and team members that have otherwised been tightly following safety protocols, knocking them out of active competition or summer camps and clinics – which are important both financially and for recruiting purposes.
Also at play is that many schools around the country aren’t allowing in-person visits of any prospective students, which could lead to an uneven playing field for recruiting.
“After careful consideration of all available information, the Council agreed that an extension of the dead period through May 31 was necessary,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “However, there is a strong commitment to use the next several weeks to outline the transition plan back to recruiting activities post June 1 and to provide those plans to prospective student-athletes, their families and the NCAA membership no later than April 15.”
The Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also supported an extension of the dead period, noting a need to both provide prospective student-athletes and their families immediate guidance and also prioritize the health and safety of student-athletes who still will be competing in their spring sport seasons at that time.
“While we support the dead period extension, we also note the importance of providing prospective student-athletes immediate guidance on the future of the dead period,” said SAAC co-chair Justice Littrell.
For coaches, this means that they may not have recruits on campus, may not visit recruits off campus, and may not attend meets strictly for the purposes of observing recruits. College coaches with athletes competing in a meet where their athletes are competing, and where prospective student-athletes are also competing, are allowed to attend those meets, though they are not supposed to do any active recruiting while there.
NCAA D2, NCAA D3, NAIA, and NJCAA programs all currently allow regular recruiting activities, including in-person visits on campus and off campus.
Blanket Waiver for Football
Council members also provided a blanket waiver that increased the number of hours football teams can spend on countable, athletically related, out-of-season activities this spring from eight to 10 hours per week. The 10 hours may include:
- Up to four hours per week for meetings/film review
- Up to two hours per week for walk-throughs
- No more than six hours of physical activities (weight training/conditioning).
All activities will be non-contact. The waiver does not change the existing requirement that student-athletes have two days off per week.
The waiver is effective Feb. 22.
Updated Booster Rules
The Council also adopted a proposal that narrows the definition of an individual associated with a prospect in bowl subdivision football and men’s and women’s basketball. The proposal was tabled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council members think the base rule, aimed at preventing schools from hiring people in a prospective student-athlete’s life in order to gain a recruiting advantage, has had the unintended consequence of preventing coaches and noncoaching staff members from career advancement at different schools. The change will be effective Feb. 24 if Division I Board of Directors members do not object.
Spring Sport Eligibility Extension
Council members declined to provide at this time a blanket waiver that would have extended the seasons of competition and period of eligibility for freshman spring sport student-athletes, noting that significant changes to spring sport seasons have not occurred yet. The Council noted that the existing waiver standards and process remain the appropriate way to consider relief for spring sport student-athletes. However, the Council agreed to continue to monitor the issues related to the season and the pandemic. If warranted, appropriate actions could be taken later.
All 2020-2021 Division I fall and winter sport student-athletes have been granted a one-season extension to their NCAA eligibility because of the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.