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Committee supports revised recruiting calendar

Official and unofficial visits could begin Sept. 1 of junior year if changes are approved

The recruiting calendar for most Division I college athletes could soon resemble the schedule other students follow when choosing a college or university, according to proposals endorsed Tuesday by the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee.

The recruiting calendar for most Division I college athletes could soon resemble the schedule other students follow when choosing a college or university, according to proposals endorsed Tuesday by the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee.

The committee, designed to consider issues that enhance students’ athletic and educational experiences as college athletes, recommended amendments to proposals that will be considered by the Division I Council. The Council could vote on the proposals as early as April. The committee made its recommendation after considering feedback from NCAA surveys administered in fall 2017 to student-athletes, conferences, coaches associations, governing bodies and other athletics associations.

“What I’ve appreciated about this process is we have got a room full of people who are very interested in bettering the student-athlete experience,” said Justin Sell, chair of the committee and athletics director at South Dakota State. “The work itself requires having a clear goal for what you want to accomplish.”The recommendations apply to all Division I sports except football and basketball, which are governed by separate standing committees charged with overseeing those sports. The changes were designed to strike an appropriate balance in the recruiting process, allowing prospective student-athletes ample time and opportunity to evaluate potential colleges and identify a program that meets their academic and athletic goals.

If the Council adopts the committee’s recommended amendments, the proposals would include:

  • Unofficial visits, which now have no restrictions on their dates for most sports, would not be permitted until Sept. 1 of prospective student-athletes’ junior year. This change aims to encourage the decision-making process for both prospective student-athletes and colleges and universities to occur at a time when academic and athletic preparedness can be more accurately considered.
  • A coach or school would not be able to engage in recruiting conversations with a prospective student-athlete at an athletic camp or clinic until Sept. 1 of the student’s junior year in high school. Additionally, the committee noted all participating athletes should have a uniform camp or clinic experience, and coaches should not be able to pull aside prospects for recruiting conversations or activities until their junior year in high school.
  • Official visits, now prohibited until prospective student-athletes’ senior year of high school, would be allowed to begin Sept. 1 in their junior year. Today, these visits are often made after a student already has committed to a particular school, preventing the official visit from being part of the decision-making process. The change aims to emphasize the official visit in the recruiting process and better align them with the timing of visits taken by the general student body.

Michael Sagas, faculty athletics representative at Florida and chair of the university’s Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management, chairs the Subcommittee on Early Recruiting. After the meeting, he said he was pleased with the committee’s recommendation.

“The more restrictive we can make the environment on the institutional side, the more beneficial the experience we offer student-athletes,” Sagas said.

The Student-Athlete Experience Committee has approached its early recruiting review in multiple phases: It has tackled official and unofficial visits during the 2017-18 legislative cycle. It will next review communication and offers of aid portions during the 2018-19 cycle. In a third phase, the committee will review tryouts, evaluations, camps and clinics, and contacts.