NCAA Rules and Regulations

As a high school athlete, you may be thinking about your future and the possibility of playing at the collegiate level. If you’re interested in pursuing this dream, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the NCAA‘s rules and regulations. 

The recruiting process can be daunting, but Signing Day Sports is here to help. This entry, on The Wire, is intended to educate high school football athletes about the NCAA’s rules and regulations. 

Important information on topics such as recruiting timelines, contact restrictions, and official visits can make the recruiting process feel more seamless. By reading our blog, you’ll be better informed about the recruiting process and better prepared to take the next steps towards your goal of playing collegiate sports. 

Recruiting Timeline

The NCAA recruiting timeline is designed to give high school athletes ample time to research colleges and make an informed decision about their future. 

The timeline begins in September of the athlete’s junior year, when they can first start receiving recruiting materials from colleges. This is also when recruits can start legally being contacted. By April of their Junior year, athletes can start taking official visits to college campuses. 

In February, they can sign a National Letter of Intent, committing to a specific school. Finally, in May or June, they will graduate from high school and officially become college athletes.

Check out this list, which lays out the restrictions regarding recruits’ age and where they are in high school (this example is specific to football):

  • Any time
    • Coaches can send recruits non-recruiting materials. This can include things like questionnaires, camp brochures, non-athletic publications and other educational materials. 
    • Coaches are able to extend verbal offers at any point in time.
  • Junior year
    • Beginning September 1st, coaches are able to begin initiating private communication with recruits (often done through email, text messages, or direct messages).
    • From April 1st to the last Wednesday in the school year, athletes are allowed to take official visits as long as it does not interfere with the school’s camps or clinics. 
  • Senior year
    • On July 1st heading into Senior year, coaches are given permission to contact recruits off-campus – meaning they are allowed to visit them in-house, at the high school, or otherwise.
    • September 1st of Senior year, athletes are allowed to take official campus visits with no restrictions. At this point, coaches are also allowed to begin calling recruits a maximum of once per week.

 Throughout this process, it is important for athletes to stay in communication with their high school coach, as they will be able to provide valuable guidance and support. Signing Day Sports offering, Pro+, also offers guidance to athletes at this point in time. 

Contact Restrictions

Additionally, there are restrictions as to when communication or evaluation is allowed. These are issued by the NCAA, with each constituting different “recruiting periods.” 

Here’s the recruiting periods listed and defined:

  • Quiet period
    • Contact with college coaches is only permissible on the college campus. Coaches are not able to communicate with recruits outside of this context and are unable to watch or evaluate the recruit’s play.
  • Dead period
    • College coaches and recruits are not allowed to have any type of contact whatsoever. 
  • Evaluation period
    • Authorized collegiate staff members are allowed to evaluate recruits off-campus. However, no communication is allowed.
  • Contact period:
    • Everything is allowed. Authorized collegiate coaches and recruiters are allowed to evaluate recruits in person and initiate contact with them in their preferred method.

Both of these calendars are important to keep in mind. Remember that if anything that is not permissible occurs to you, you may be risking your college-eligibility. So, be careful.

Check out this example of a calendar depicting recruiting periods for this season of football. 

Official Visits

The goal of visiting a college campus is to be able to decide more definitively if you are a fit for the school. There needs to be a certain level of trust between recruits and the coaching staff, and a college visit is where that initial trust can be established. These are important to the recruiting process, but it’s important to keep in mind the rules that govern these visits.

In college visits, you will typically be joined by coaches on a tour of the campus/facilities, shown what your day-to-day would look like, and courted in one way or another.

It’s important to note the differences between unofficial and official visits. The reason this distinction exists is to mitigate unethical recruiting through guidelines and regulations set in place for official visits. Here are some of the differences between unofficial visits and official visits:

Official Visits:

  • 5 per athlete, but only 1 per school 
    • D-II and D-III are unlimited but still only 1 per school
  • 48 hours in length
  • Must be registered with the NCAA Eligibility center for D-I and D-II
  • 3 meals per day
  • Paid transportation/lodging
  • Schools may provide up to 5 tickets for home games

Unofficial Visits:

  • Unlimited number of visits allowed
  • No limit on length of visit
  • NCAA Eligibility registration is not needed
  • No meals, transportation, or lodging
  • School may provide up to 3 tickets for D-I and 5 tickets for D-II

For both unofficial and official visits, recruits will still be allowed to meet with coaches and tour facilities. Attending home games at the end of the day is also very common for both types of visits. 

Regardless of the differences and similarities, the goal remains the same. Visiting campuses is encouraged and essential in the recruiting process. 

NCAA Name, Image, Likeness Policy

The Wire recently released an article detailing the effects of NIL on collegiate athletics. We won’t reiterate these rules again, but they are important to keep in mind for when you do begin to compete at the collegiate level.

High school athletes also need to be aware of the way these new rulings affect them. Obviously, no athlete wants to negate their college-eligibility by participating in a program that excludes you from signing on to play with the NCAA.

The NCAA clarified that high school athletes are allowed to monetize their own NIL. However, many high schools or other sports organizations have followed up these recent rulings by saying they would still be impermissible. 

At this point in time, California is the only state that does allow their high school athletes to profit from their own NIL. While this could change in the near future, it would be advisable to tread lightly when considering entering into deals with sponsors. 

Here are some links that can better help you understand how NIL may impact your high school and collegiate athletics experience:

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