It’s that time of year again… you might be feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or anxious about the college recruiting process, or even scarier, you might be ignoring and neglecting it altogether. Trust me, you’re not alone. It’s a fact, many junior golfers don’t start early enough in the process and sadly, seek help after it’s already too late. However, with a little guidance and education, juniors can overcome their recruiting “shot-clock”.
College application deadlines are approaching. The early signing period for the National Letter of Intent is looming. Coaching staffs are on their recruiting games. Players are taking visits, building relationships and committing to schools. Whether you’re a 2017, 2018, 2019, or even a 2020 recruit, you probably want any advantage you can get in the recruiting process. This takes a unique understanding of what coaches are looking for, how to build relationships and more importantly a clear understanding of what coaches can and cannot do in terms of recruiting you. Many dependent factors such as grad year, academic standing, and division of a college program will determine if a coach can or cannot recruit you. And as you may know, over the years the NCAA has implemented strict guidelines which restrict coaches in sending emails, making telephone calls, contacting you off-campus, or evaluating you on the golf course.
Take note: the rules and regulations are different for each level; D1, D2, D3, and even NAIA. The rules might have different distinctions or be modified a bit across divisions but nonetheless are all meant to serve the same purpose: to create a culture where all coaches can recruit on an even playing field.
Here’s a look at NCAA regulations for each division. This table was made specifically for junior golfers wondering what coaches can and cannot do and when they can do it in the recruiting
*Source: Rick Allen – Founder, Informed Athlete and Former Director of NCAA Compliance
Rick Allen, Founder of Informed Athlete.com provided assistance with NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA recruiting rules for this article.
To get you caught up to speed, here are a few recruiting definitions which you need to understand to gain a distinct advantage over your peers:
PSA: (Prospective Student-Athlete) You are considered a PSA at the start of 9th Grade classes
Contact: A contact happens any time a college coach says more than hello during a face-to-face meeting with you or your parents off the college’s campus.
Dead Period: A college coach may not have any face-to-face contact with a recruit/player or his/her parents on or off the college campus at any time during a dead period. However, a coach may write and call a recruit/player during a dead period.
Evaluation: An evaluation takes place when a college coach observes you practicing or competing.
Official visit: During an official visit, the college can pay for transportation to and from the college for you, lodging and meals (Division I allows for up to three meals per day) for you and your parents or guardians, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses, including up to six complimentary admissions to a Division I home sports event or five complimentary admissions to a Division II home sports event. Before a college may invite you on an official visit, you must provide the college with a copy of your high school transcript and register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Recruited: If a college coach calls a player/recruit more than once, contacts them off campus, pays their expenses to visit the campus, or in Divisions I and II, issues a National Letter of Intent or a written offer of financial aid, then the player/recruit is considered to be recruited.
Unofficial visit: An unofficial visit is a “trip” taken by the recruit/player and his/her parents to a college campus. All unofficial visits are funded by the recruit/player. The college and/or coach may not pay for any expenses (except to provide complimentary admissions to campus athletic events). We encourage ForeCollegeGolf clients/players to make as many unofficial visits as they can and to take those visits at any time during the recruiting process.
Verbal commitment: A verbal commitment takes place when a player verbally agrees to play for a coach before he/she is eligible to sign a National Letter of Intent. The commitment is between player and coach not between player and college/university.
NLI: National Letter of Intent, legally binding contract signed by a student-athlete verifying commitment to an NCAA institution. Once signed, other coaches cannot recruit the player.
Preferred Walk-on: A recruit who does not receive a scholarship, but who is placed on the team roster as a full time student-athlete just like the scholarship athletes.
Keep in mind, the chart above and all of the regulations you’ve heard about are for the COACHES not for you as a prospective student-athlete. You are free to reach out to college coaches/players/athletic department heads as you wish! Calls, emails, texts, Facebook posts, the whole nine yards. Everything on your end is permitted, it’s just that the NCAA regulates and restricts when, what and how the coaches respond to you. Start early, and update often. Although coaches may not be responding, that doesn’t mean they aren’t noticing you.
Mike Smith is the Founder & CEO of ForeCollegeGolf and specializes in assisting junior golfers & their families through the college recruiting process. Email him @ firstname.lastname@example.org