The NCAA Division I council has extended the recruiting dead period for all NCAA Division I sports through April 15. This extends the existing dead period, announced in September, that extended through January 1.
“The COVID-19 numbers are not trending in the right direction for the Council to allow in-person recruiting and the associated long-distance travel for coaches, prospective student-athletes and their families,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn. “We acknowledge the impact the restrictions are having on student-athletes who dream of being Division I athletes, but we must prioritize the health and safety of current and potential student-athletes and their families, as well as coaches and others on campus.”
During the recruiting dead period, coaches are not allowed to have in-person contact with prospective student-athletes either on campus or off campus. Electronic communication with student-athletes, including video calls, are allowed to continue. Student-athletes are also allowed to take trips of their own to visit a campus, though they are not allowed to meet with coaches while there.
College teams are also allowed to participate in open events, such as last week’s U.S. Open Championships, that occur during a dead period even if that event includes prospective student-athletes, providing no recruiting activities occur, according to a 2008 NCAA interpretation.
In June, 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. The timing of that was to account for allowing coaches to recruit at Junior Nationals, which were still planned as a large scale event at the time, and then to not allow potentially-infected recruits on campus until after the end of the swimming and diving season. With Junior Nationals being now an ‘any meet counts’ scenario without a high concentration of prospective student-athletes in any one place, those calls have not been publicly renewed since.
Members also voted to permit additional flexibility in virtual recruiting in football by allowing all coaches, full-time school staff members and current students to conduct recruiting calls (telephone calls and video calls) without a countable coach being present. This flexibility, proposed by the Football Oversight Committee, includes volunteer coaches in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Council plans to address similar flexibility for other sports at its December meeting.
The dead period extension was supported by the oversight committees for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. Members acknowledged that while Divisions II and III had loosened recruiting restrictions, Division I schools are managing active fall sport seasons, which is not the case at most schools in Divisions II and III.
The new restrictions come as the US hits new record highs of coronavirus cases, averaging over 160,000 daily over the last week The number of deaths and hospitalizations are also climbing and are now approaching the highs seen early in the pandemic in April and May.