May 1, 2019 marked the first day of the new recruiting rules set out by the NCAA Division I Council last week. The regulations affect a large number of sports (but not American football, basketball, lacrosse, softball, and men’s ice hockey, which have their own recruiting timelines) and are meant to curb early recruiting of prospective student-athletes (PSAs). For some sports, however, they will move the timeline forward, allowing communication between coaches and recruits to begin on June 15 following the athlete’s sophomore year of high school. Official visits can now take place on August 1 following the athlete’s sophomore year, which is a month earlier than what is currently allowable.
This is the second year in a row that the NCAA Division I Council has adjusted its regulations to address early recruiting by coaches. In 2018, the NCAA allowed official visits to begin in the fall of the PSA’s junior year, moving the calendar forward by 11 months. Previously, a PSA had to wait until his or her senior year to begin to visit campuses officially, which put athletes on a very short timeline for making collegiate decisions. The other big change in 2018 was that the NCAA disallowed all communication between the PSA and any staff member of an Athletic Department during an unofficial visit that took place before September 1 of the PSA’s junior year.
While this year’s changes are minor, they do move the start of the recruiting season into the summer after a PSA’s sophomore year of high school, rather than waiting for the fall of junior year.
|Event||Previous rule||New rule 5/1/2019||Impact|
|Off-campus contacts||July 1 after junior year||August 1 of junior year||11 months earlier|
|Telephone calls from a coach||July 1 after junior year||June 15 at conclusion of sophomore year||1 year earlier|
|Telephone calls from an individual to coach||Anytime||June 15 at conclusion of Sophomore||Puts incoming phone calls on same timeline as outgoing calls|
|Official visits||September 1 of junior year||August 1 of junior year||1 month earlier|
|Unofficial visits||September 1 of junior year||August 1 of junior year||1 month earlier|
Not everyone is happy about the changes, however. 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.”
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.