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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Sandy
3 years ago

As a mom of a Division I swimmer, I think this just really adds to the demand of current college swimmers. With the most recent changes to the rules this added significantly more recruiting trips to host on an annual basis. Between meets and hosting recruiting trips there were very few weekends off over this last year.

SwimParent
Reply to  Sandy
3 years ago

Sandy, based on your and other college swimmer and parent comments in the thread it really seems like some sort of ‘black out period’ for visits is need to preserve the sanity (and grades) of current college swimmers. As swim coaches fight to shift the process for swimming I hope they take that message forward for the benefit of current athletes in all sports.

Admin
Reply to  SwimParent
3 years ago

That’s an interesting solution. Maybe open up a recruiting period in the summer after their sophomore years, but then close it again for at least a portion of their junior years?

It of course needs some scoping and development, but I kind of like the sound of that.

Freshman
3 years ago

Being a freshman this year, recruiting is a pain in the butt, and even more so as the kids get younger and younger. You start to have less in common. It is also a big commitment time wise, as we have had recruits coming in all year, even next week during exam period. This is SUCH A BAD idea.

Former coach
3 years ago

I think it would be exceptionally difficult to find any coach who would be excited to welcome a potential 15 year old on an official visit… here, go hang out with my 20-22 year old team… a potential recipe for disaster.

SwimParent
Reply to  Former coach
3 years ago

Or parent of that 15 year old

Kate
Reply to  Former coach
3 years ago

Right on. As we went through this process this past Fall, my 15 yr old (a young junior) was going on official visits. Absolutely an uncomfortable situation for everyone- me included. And this kid was a very mature 15 Year old. What we found is that many parents were accompanying their recruits to the visits – taking part in tours and meeting the coaches. Fifteen year olds are not ready to make this sort of decision without knowledgeable and direct input from parents. Myself and many parents I spoke with went on all these visits to help our kids make the best decision. There are definitely no rules as to when you have to decide – but coaches do have… Read more »

Rick Paine
Reply to  Kate
3 years ago

Parents will need to be prepared to go on official visits with their kids.

Karin O
3 years ago

I’m not a fan of this new timeline. So many have no idea where they’ed want to be 2 years from now and times can change so much in the course of a year, especially for boys, that they could have a totally different set of schools they are interested in depending on the year and their times. Just my two cents but I much prefer the old rules, July 1 after Junior year.

SwimParent
Reply to  Karin O
3 years ago

But Karin, this didn’t change from July 1 after junior year. All this does is push up from Sept 1 before junior year to Aug 1 before junior year for any visits and push up communication from Sept 1 to June 15 to plan visits and talk over the summer. I agree with your points but those points argue against last years change. This years change doesn’t undo that but rather just makes it a little more logical imho.

SpeculationSpectacular
3 years ago

I’m confused at how this rule requires swimmers to commit early? It literally aligns swimming with a lot of other Olympic sport recruiting calendars.

If you want to commit early do it, if not wait. No where does it say you MUST commit early.

Most coaches against it are lazy and don’t want to change the “way it used to be” and update to 2019. How does it make any sense in the old way, that a recruit can receive a text from a coach, but not a phone call. They could commit to a school but not have a coach come to their home and meet their family? This aligns everything with their junior year start very… Read more »

Anonymous
3 years ago

Great for the girls. But totally screws the late bloomer boys enormously! As if the boys are not screwed enough with more than 30 less schools with men’s swim and dive teams.

Mk330
3 years ago

I personally think this is a great move… IF coaches are patient with it. Just because you can talk to and recruit high schoolers after their sophomore year doesn’t mean they should be offered or signed based off sophomore year success. If I were a collegiate coach I’d use this as the ability to approach a kid and say “hey were interested in you and want to see you progress over the next 18 months, Etc etc”

Now the problem… as Justin Wright pointed out… what about those kids who peak later? Are they forced to go without $$ because coaches offered and signed sophomore phenoms? I didn’t get recruited because I wasn’t fast enough my Jr year. My senior… Read more »

Swimbor
Reply to  Mk330
3 years ago

So then why not just have recruiting start later as it was before? Let athletes mature both as an athlete and an individual. Why allow coaches the option to place pressure on a 15 year old to make a commitment? Coaches jobs are to recruit. Go get the best athletes and get them to their program, that’s not bad or lazy recruiting.

Steve Schaffer
Reply to  Mk330
3 years ago

No one is getting signed in their junior year. The signing period remains during the senior year. However, junior year commitments are already quite rampant, and that will lock up money earlier and leave less for late developing seniors. It’s not a matter of being lazy at all. The swimmers and parents who want to make junior year visits to hear offers and make commitments and announce them on SwimSwam, Swimming World and/or CollegeSwimming.com are driving this process.

We have a group of juniors visiting here now, and they all want to know what type of offer we can make. These are good juniors, not necessarily phenoms. We still have to guess as to how they might continue to… Read more »

SwimParent
Reply to  Steve Schaffer
3 years ago

Sorry, I don’t think the swimmers or parents are driving this. As a parent (and I think most would agree), we’d be happy for it all to start June 15th after junior year instead of sophomore year. However we also want a fair playing field and opportunity for our kids. The pre-2018 rules of unlimited unofficial visits at any time and unlimited calls from swimmers to coaches after a coach told the club coach to pass on available times was not a level playing field and just pushed things earlier. The new rules close those loopholes at least. I also believe (perhaps naively) that swim coaches and swimmers are more scrupulous than other sports and could have maintained a post… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  SwimParent
3 years ago

As someone who sits in the middle of this whole transaction, I can say that from where I set, it looks very much like a feedback loop. Whether the chicken or the egg started it first, I can’t really say for sure, but I don’t think either side is inculpable in the cycle.

Steve Schaffer
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

You have a point Braden. A relative handful of programs are probably responsible for getting the junior year commitments bandwagon going – starting with unofficial visit junior days and offering scholarships. Of course there was certainly a willing supply of swimmers/parents to participate. Once the junior official visits started, things really took off essentially forcing even mid-major programs like mine to get into the mix this year.

Programs don’t want to lose opportunities to recruit quality juniors who are determined to make and announce commitments in their junior year. I am hoping CSCAA can get an exemption proposal in the next legislative cycle to get us back to senior only official visits.

Another Swim Mom
Reply to  Steve Schaffer
3 years ago

At the beginning of our son’s recruiting process (which started before the end of sophomore year), we were all determined to not be pressured or rushed. We felt like we had tons of time, and we encouraged our son to gather as much info as possible, which included taking advantage of opportunities to interact with and connect with a number of coaches. We chose not to take any unofficial visits but to look forward to what the official visits would bring to the table.

I honestly feel badly for the coaches having to juggle this early recruitment business. It was interesting to observe the different approaches they had. Some appealed to us more than others. As trips were taken… Read more »

Coach
3 years ago

Split D1 programs need a 2nd assistant position.

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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