NCAA Recruiting Rules Change, Allow Earlier Recruiting, Official Visits

The NCAA adopted new rules this week aimed at reducing early recruiting – but the rules will actually allow slightly earlier official visits, causing the CSCAA to unsuccessfully request an exemption for swimming & diving.

The NCAA’s Division I council adopted the rules this week, and they’ll become effective as of May 1, when the Division I Board of Directors meeting closes. The proposal allows communication between coaches and recruits starting on June 15 after the athlete’s sophomore year of high school. Official visits could be taken a month and a half later, starting on August 1 before the prospect’s junior year of high school.

On the other hand, it does restrict coaches from accepting phone calls from recruits until June 15th after their sophomore year. In the past, recruits could call coaches and coaches could accept the call at any time – they just couldn’t initiate contact themselves.

The result doesn’t move up existing dates too drastically, but does push the start of recruiting firmly into the summer after a prospect’s sophomore year, rather than the fall of their junior year of high school.

This marks the second year in a row that the NCAA has adjusted its recruiting rules to address early recruiting. Here’s a quick look at the changes in key dates across the last two years of rule changes:

Previous rules April 2018 rule changes April 2019 rule changes
Recruiting communication opens July 1 after junior year July 1 after junior year
June 15 after sophomore year
Official visits allowed First day of classes during senior year Sept. 1 of junior year
August 1 after sophomore year

While the NCAA framed its new rule changes as being designed to “curb early recruiting,” the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) says the new rules will have the opposite effect for swimming & diving.

“We applaud the Student Athlete Experience Committee’s (SAEC) efforts to rein in early recruiting, but proposal 2018-93 does so at the expense of sports doing it well,” said CSCAA executive director Greg Earhart in the organization’s public call for swimming & diving to be exempted from the new rule proposal. “Unfortunately, for sports like swimming and diving, it moves the starting line even earlier.”

The proposal passed this week and swimming & diving was not exempted. Earhart says the CSCAA is working on a new recruiting model for the NCAA’s 2019 legislative process. He says 95% of CSCAA member swim & dive coaches oppose the new recruiting rules.

The NCAA did note that men’s ice hockey was provided with its own separate recruiting timeline, which allows even earlier recruiting: recruiting contact can begin Jan. 1 of a student’s sophomore year with visits still beginning Aug. 1 after the sophomore year. The separate timeline is to allow athletes to make more informed decisions between college hockey and the professional opportunities available in the sport.

Basketball, football, lacrosse and softball are also not included in the new rules after already changing their recruiting rules in recent years.

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Oh, good lord – this is to be effective June 15, 2019, as in 57 days from now?!

Justin Wright

Ugh. This adds far more complexity to the recruiting process. Thinking back to when I was finishing up my sophomore year, I could hardly name five of the top twenty college teams. I didn’t know NC State (or Arizona) even existed. I hadn’t really had any major breakthrough swims. How in the world would I have made any informed decision about my future?

This just puts more pressure on uninformed athletes and more stress on coaching staffs that are now forced to plan up to three years in advance for their incoming classes. And not to even mention the unfortunate athletes that have break out senior years only to find all the money already spent at most schools.

Hint of Lime

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Justin — always pretty cool for couch spectators like us to hear/read the thoughts of a national teamer like you and get direct insight from time to time.

Justin Wright

No problem! And trust me, there’s plenty of us on here, most are just incognito!

Ol' Longhorn



One of my close friends didn’t really break out until his senior year. He dropped 10 seconds in his best 100 from his sophomore to senior years. He’s going to a well-regarded D1 program now, but these rules screw over late-bloomers like him.


On the flip side I have seen many record breaking swimmers peak/burnout after their freshman/sophomore years. A top 20 recruit may not be by the time ( or even if) they reach college. It will be interesting to see how this effects traditional top college swimming programs!


No it doesn’t. If someone gets fast enough a team will find a spot for them, it happens every year already, under old rules or new rules


Agree Justin ! Thank you for your input… Appreciate it, Sophomore Swim Mom


I’d love to hear from some coaches here… but as a parent, I gotta say, this makes lots and lots of sense. A rising JR can now spend their Summer months when they don’t have school work to really spend time getting to know coaches and programs. They can take unofficial visits when the team isn’t around. They aren’t doing so at the expense of their academics. Then, in the Fall they can take the Official Visits and have a better feel for where they want to visit. I am concerned that it does push kids and coaches to make even verbal commitments when the swimmers haven’t fully developed into the swimmer they will become by the end of their… Read more »


Totally agree with OfficialDad. Junior year is typically hardest year of high school (APs, etc.) and current rules (before today) put start of junior year as exact time when coaches start reaching out and wanting to schedule and make official and unofficial visits while getting into the heaviest short course training cycle. Way too much at once. Let rising juniors use the summer to sift through schools and get to know coaches and schools over the phone, text, and social media without the added pressure of school. I don’t believe any kids will commit over that summer before they’ve met a coach in person on a campus. A commitment then would reflect very poorly on the coach, parent, and kid… Read more »

Old Coach

Swim Parent, Good luck with your search as you mentioned you are a parent of a swimmer about to enter the process. Get back to me when coaches put ridiculous pressure on your child to commit NOW or we won’t have scholarship money for you.


I thought kids, on their own, could get to know a coach at any point in life? As long as they initiate it and pay for it. I think this ruling will likely only affect the top 100 or so swimmers in a class.


Not anymore. Getting to know a coach in person on campus would be an unofficial visit. Not permitted until September 1 or soon August 1 before junior year. Can’t call coaches on the phone under new rules either.

2017 College Grad

I dont know about your kid but when I was a sophomore in high school I used my summers to play outside, have bonfires, and hang with my friends when I wasn’t swimming. I wasn’t focused or worried about my college decision, (one of the biggest decisions in life) I was worried about living in the present and making high school memories.

Rick Paine

OFFICIALDAD, I just sent out information to college coaches on one of our sophomore girls who is national caliber. I received many responses back from the coaches and I asked them if they would be contacting her on June 15 and how they felt about the newest rule. Here is a direct reply from one of the top D-I coaches in the country. “To say we are upset with recruiting moving even earlier is an understatement. It is already way too early. Having said that, we haven’t discussed what we will be doing on (or about) June 15th at this point. That is the Saturday of the Clovis meet (and Charlotte, and probably several others around the country), and we… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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