What’s Allowed and Not Allowed with the New Rules?

Examples of conversations with club coaches that follow and break the rules…

With many questions about new recruiting rules, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) refers to an NCAA document from July 13, 2017 that pertains to Lacrosse.  Here are excerpts of the document which is an Educational Column:

Question No. 1: What is a coach permitted to say if a prospective student-athlete initiates a call or contact with an institution’s coach prior to September 1 of the prospective student-athlete’s junior year?

Answer: The coach may not engage in any recruiting conversations. However, the coach may confirm the prospective student-athlete’s age, explain the recruiting rules and then must end the call or contact.

Question No. 2: During an institutional camp or clinic, may a coach have recruiting conversations with a lacrosse prospective student-athlete prior to September 1 of his or her junior year?

Answer:  No.

Question No. 3:  During an institutional camp or clinic, may a coach provide a campus tour to a lacrosse prospective student-athlete prior to September 1 of his or her junior year?

Answer:  Yes. A campus tour would be permissible; however, no recruiting conversations may occur.

Question No. 4:  During an institutional camp or clinic, may a coach provide an informational session about the recruiting process and the student-athlete experience to a lacrosse prospective student-athlete prior to September 1 of his or her junior year?

Answer: Yes. A general informational session would be permissible; however, no institution specific information may occur at these informational sessions. Recruiting conversations are not permissible.

Question No. 5: May an institution’s coach send recruiting messages through a prospective student athlete’s high school/club coach or another third party?

Answer:  No. If a coach cannot contact a prospective student-athlete directly, then he or she cannot send recruiting messages indirectly through a high school/club coach or another third party.

Question No. 6:  May an institution’s coach have evaluative conversations (e.g., regarding athletics ability) with a prospective student-athlete’s high school/club coach before September 1 of the prospective student-athlete’s junior year?

Answer: Yes. However, these conversations should not be used to indirectly send recruiting messages (e.g., verbal offer of aid) to a prospective student-athlete.

Examples of permissible evaluative conversation topics with a high school/club coach:

  • High school/club coach’s evaluation of the prospective student-athlete’s academics, athletic skills, speed, agility, personality, character, work ethic, coachability, etc.
  • Institution’s coach expression of general interest in the prospective student-athlete (e.g., We are interested in [name]).

Examples of impermissible evaluative conversation topics with a high school/club coach:

  • Confirming if the prospective student-athlete is on institution’s recruiting list, including his or her ranking on that list (e.g., “PSA is on our A-list/B-List”, “PSA is a top [#] prospect for us”, “PSA is our top goalie prospect”, etc.).
  • Institution’s coach providing an evaluation of the prospective student-athlete to the high school/club coach.
  • Requesting the high school/club coach tell the prospective student-athlete to:
    1. Send transcripts, report cards and/or scores to the college coach and/or staff; and/or
    2. Attend a camp where their college coach and/or staff will be present.
  • Asking if the prospective student-athlete is interested in the school, including the level of interest.
  • Any discussion with high school/club coach of potential financial aid or athletic scholarship offers.
  • Setting up future phone calls or visits for the prospective student-athlete.

Question No. 7:  May a college coach have an evaluative conversation with a high school/club coach with the prospective student-athlete listening to the conversation?

Answer:   No. This would be using a high school/club coach to circumvent the recruiting rule prohibiting contact with a prospective student athlete until September 1 of junior year.

Question No. 8:  May an institution’s coach ask a high school/club coach to inform his or her team of the recruiting legislation?

Answer:  Yes.

Question No. 9:  Are institution’s coaches still permitted to make calls related to camps and clinics logistics prior to September 1 of the prospective student-athlete’s junior year?

Answer:  Yes. The content of the calls must be limited to camp logistics and may not include recruiting content.

Question No. 10: May a younger sibling (a prospective student-athlete who is not yet a junior) accompany an older sibling on an unofficial or official visit?

Answer:  Yes, provided no recruiting conversation occurs with the younger sibling.

Notice about Educational Columns: Educational columns and hot topics are intended to assist the membership with the correct application of legislation and/or interpretations by providing clarifications, reminders and examples. They are based on legislation and official and staff interpretations applicable at the time of publication. Therefore, educational columns and hot topics are binding to the extent that the legislation and interpretations on which they are based remain applicable. Educational columns are posted on a regular basis to address a variety of issues and hot topics are posted as necessary in order to address timely issues.

New Recruiting Rules Likely Effective on April 24

The NCAA’s Division I Council voted to end early recruiting.  The new rules do not take effect until its is approved by the Division I Board of Directors at their meeting on April 24.   This means college coaches have until the approval to make verbal commitments.

        The council approved recommendations from the Student Athlete Experience Committee to:

  1.  Prohibit recruiting conversations between a college coach and Prospective Student Athlete (PSA) and their family before September 1 of the PSA’s junior year of high school
  2. Prohibit colleges from providing game tickets to prospects before Sept 1 of their sophomore year
  3. Move official visits to Sept. 1 of the PSA’s junior year instead of their Senior year

     The NCAA states that this will follow a recruiting model that resembles the schedule other students follow when choosing where to go to college.   The move intends to bring an end to college coaches in softball and other D1 college sports recruiting athletes at a young age, some as early as sixth grade.

“These changes will improve the recruiting experience for prospective student-athletes and coaches and lead to better decision-making,” said Blake James, Council chair and Miami (Florida) director of athletics. “Ultimately, a better recruiting process will improve the college experience for Division I student-athletes.”

    Phone calls are also off limits. “The new rules prevent phone calls between coaches and recruits until Sept. 1 of the prospective student-athlete’s junior year and allow off-campus recruiting contact to begin the same date,” states Michell Hosick, Associate Director of Public and Media Relations at the NCAA.

   Recruiting conversations through a third party are considered contact.  “According to the Division I Recruiting Guide, the passing of notes or orally relaying information to a PSA by a third party on behalf of an school’s staff member counts as a contact” stated Hosick.




NCAA Rule Changes – What changed for Lacrosse

“The burden has been lifted off parents and how much they need to travel…”

From what we’ve heard through several different grapevines, changes to NCAA rules for recruiting in most sports will change in April.  The Division I council meets April 16 and 17 to vote on whether to ban recruiting contact and unofficial visits before a student-athlete’s junior year of high school.  By most predictions this is going to pass easily and will be effective immediately.

How that affects recruiting in softball or any other sport is unknown but we can look to rule changes for lacrosse and how the landscape evolved.  The changes experienced in the sport could be a guide for many others.

One of the most interesting developments after the rule changes was the increase in switched commitments.  This is where students had originally committed to a school and then switched to a different school.  “Because it was less worth while to watch the younger recruits, coaches refocused on 2018’s and started poaching committed players”, said Terry Foy, Publisher at Inside Lacrosse.  Foy said with 71 D1 men’s lacrosse programs and roughly 700 players, 55 prospective student athletes switched their commitments.

NCAA rules were changed in April of 2017 and the full effects with data may not be felt until the next few years.  But in conversations with families, Foy said parents were relieved.  “The burden was lifted off parents on how much they needed to travel going into their freshman year… especially for families with multiple kids,” he said.   Foy pointed out that 9th grade lacrosse players stopped attending the large club team tournaments because they started associating with the younger age groups.

Foy believes this was a good process for college coaches and administrators to come together in an organized way and do what many believed was best for the sport.  “Being able execute the process was great for lacrosse,” said Fox.

Softball Nation called numerous Lacrosse Coaches and organizations on the East Coast, Midwest and Southern California but calls were not returned.

Lakeshore Lacrosse based in the Chicago Metropolitan Area said the changes made things easier on kids and parents.  “There is more time and less pressure because they have 1-2 years of grades and classes to help guide their college search which is much more than earlier,” said Michelle Sebastian, Director of Coaching.

Sebastion said her club didn’t see any switching of commitments in players.  The new rules also afforded recruiters time to better assess players after competing in high school and club.

And she said there’s not drop-off in interest in the sport.  “Their summers aren’t as full at such an early age trying to visit schools every weekend,” said Sebastion.

On a more personal level, Alex Walling, a 2019 women’s lacrosse player said she feels it’s a race to get recruited since the beginning of her junior year.  “I feel rushed because before the rule change, college coaches tried to recruit as many girls in my grade as possible,” said Alex.  “And now it’s a rush to find colleges that haven’t closed their 2019 recruiting class.”

Her father, Steve said they received an offer from school before the recruiting rules took effect last year, but it wasn’t the right school for his daughter.  “I wonder how much money I would have saved traveling around the country going to all these tournaments if we committed then,” he said.