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Council discusses recruitment of mid-year enrollees

As a part of its April meeting, Division I Legislative Council members decided that schools may continue to recruit with relaxed recruiting rules prospects who sign financial aid agreements for mid-year enrollment. But if that prospect does not enroll at the school, the school will be considered in violation of recruiting rules.

The school also must ensure the prospect is already enrolled in all the coursework necessary to graduate from high school at midyear before offering the financial aid agreement.

The decision came as part of a Southeastern Conference appeal of an interpretation of a rule that allowed schools to have unlimited recruiting contact with prospective student-athletes who have signed a written offer of financial aid with the school.

The change created an unintended scenario in which prospects (most often mid-year enrollees) signed multiple offers of financial aid and coaches were incentivized to recruit prospects to sign so they could recruit without restrictions. The act of signing the agreements then lifted recruiting restrictions for that prospect with more than one school and created what some termed an unhealthy recruiting environment surrounding mid-year enrollees.

The official interpretation said that only the first school to sign a prospect to a financial aid agreement was allowed the unlimited recruiting access, but many schools indicated a concern about inadvertent violations. Schools often aren’t aware when prospects sign financial aid agreements with multiple schools and in what order. The interpretation was rescinded as part of the council’s action.

In other recruiting action, the council also modified an earlier interpretation applicable mainly in football and basketball that defined a “scholastic team” for recruiting purposes. The council decided that if a team is associated with a high school and its members attend that high school, the team is considered a scholastic team, even if that team isn’t the official team of that high school.

The change will provide greater clarity for coaches who recruit prospective student-athletes who participate on teams which are affiliated with high schools but not on that school’s official team.