Compliance Corner: Are Your Coaches Prepared For The New Recruiting Process

July 27th, 2018 | by Ross Mullet
Compliance Corner: Are Your Coaches Prepared For The New Recruiting Process
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recruiting process

During the most recent NCAA legislation cycle, the NCAA made major changes to the recruiting process. For sports other than men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and football, the timing of official and unofficial visits, as well as recruiting conversations has drastically changed. This prevents young athletes, such as 8th graders, from taking unofficial visits and committing to schools. The NCAA has made this shift to try to stop early recruiting and limit all it to just the junior and senior years of high school. While the effect of the new rules will not be fully known until the next recruiting cycle, it is a clear attempt to change the recruiting process by allowing high school student-athletes more time to focus on academics and their high school sport before beginning the recruiting process.

Before the rule change, a potential student-athlete could take an unofficial visit at any time and communicate with a coaching staff member while on that visit. This led to situations where middle school and young high school student-athletes were committing to colleges long before they had fully athletically developed or considered their collegiate options. This meant that middle school student-athletes were deciding on their future college well before a normal student would. While a prospect can still choose to visit a university’s campus before their junior year, there can be no contact between a coach or athletics staff member during the visit. The goal of this change is to try to slow the recruiting process and allow prospects to mature academically and athletically from middle school through 10th grade without having the pressures of recruiting.

Changes were also made to official visits. Before the changes to recruiting, official visits could only be taken by a potential student-athlete after the start of their senior year. This led to a condensed official visit cycle for student-athletes who had to try to fit in five official visits during the fall of their senior year so they could sign that spring. Official visits can now be taken any time after September 1st of a prospect’s junior year. While the official visit limit of five with one visit per school remains in place, prospects now have more time to consider their options and potentially take a more measured approach to the recruiting process. In order to provide prospects with all necessary information to make a decision, the NCAA also added a caveat to the official visit limits. If a head coach departs a program, a prospect is now allowed to take a second official visit to that school in order to make sure he or she still wishes to attend that program under the new coach. These changes to the official visit legislation is intended to allow the process to be spread out across more time rather than condensed into a student’s senior year, allowing greater consideration to be given to the decision. Ultimately the goal is to lower the number of transfers after a student’s freshman or sophomore year in college.

In conjunction with the changes to official and unofficial visits, the NLI signing period has also undergone a major change for sports outside of Football and Basketball. There are no longer going to be two signing periods (an early signing period in November, and a regular signing period April to August 1). Instead, there will be one signing period for those sports, lasting from mid-November, when the early period used to begin, and lasting all the way through August 1. This means that while the recruiting process is no longer supposed to begin until a student-athlete’s junior year of high school, he/she will be able to sign at any point their senior year beginning in November. Thus, while the NCAA is trying to slow down the recruiting process for prospects by having the process begin later, it could lead to a longer overall recruiting process as coaches try to sign prospects throughout the majority of their senior year.

While it remains to be seen how the changes will affect recruiting, the NCAA is trying to slow down early recruiting by allowing high school freshman and sophomore prospects to grow and mature both academically and athletically before beginning the recruiting process. By slowing down the process, prospects will be able to make more informed decisions and thus lead to fewer transfers in the future. If this goes well, it will be interesting to see if some of these changes are also applied to basketball and football.

Ross Mullet About Ross Mullet
Ross Mullet is a compliance professional at the University of Mississippi and a life-long sports fan. He has previously worked at Southeastern Louisiana University and the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining the compliance profession, he earned a History degree from the University of Mississippi and a law degree from the University of South Carolina. He hopes that by sharing his experiences, he can help other young compliance professionals.

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