The NCAA Division I Council adopted legislation this week that will change the way student-athletes are recruited for all sports except football and men’s and women’s basketball. The new rules aim to give a prospective student-athlete more time in the recruiting process, mirroring the schedule other students follow when choosing where to go to college. The legislation was supported by the national Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and reflects similar adjustments made to the football and basketball calendars over the past year.
“These changes will improve the recruiting experience for prospective student-athletes and coaches and lead to better decision-making,” Blake James, Council chair and Miami (Florida) director of athletics, said. “Ultimately, a better recruiting process will improve the college experience for Division I student-athletes.”
For student-athletes in sports other than football and basketball (which have their own rules), official visits now can begin September 1 of a prospect’s junior year in high school instead of on the first day of classes senior year. Additionally, athletics departments cannot participate in a recruit’s unofficial visit until September 1 of the recruit’s junior year, and recruiting conversations during a school’s camp or clinic cannot take place before September 1 of the junior year.
The recruiting changes stem from work by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Student-Athlete Experience Committee as well as feedback from coaches, athletics directors and compliance professionals. Softball coaches, in particular, had been vocal in their support of the rules change. Nearly half of Division I softball players received a scholarship offer in or before the 10th grade, according to NCAA Research, and softball has the most student-athletes who commit to a college as ninth-graders or younger.
The changes will take effect with the start of the 2018-19 school year.