New Recruiting Rule Stifles Early Recruiting – and it’s about time.

In case you haven’t heard yet, the NCAA just approved monumental recruiting legislation.

For prospective student-athletes, it’s a game changer.

Effective for the 2018 school year, all college recruiting contact begins September 1 of the Prospective Student-Athlete’s (PSA) junior year in high school. Most agree this new recruiting model allows prospective student-athletes (PSA) more time to make thoughtful decisions about their next steps after high school.

Specifically, no more recruiting communication of any kind is allowed between college coach and PSA prior to September 1 of their junior year. No more recruiting conversations at camps, on campus visits or any recruiting dialogue whatsoever prior to September 1 of the junior year. Even if a student-athlete has already verbally committed to a college as a freshman or sophomore in high school, they can’t have any communication with that coaching staff until September 1 of their junior year.

Furthermore, no longer will college coaches be able to go through the PSA’s club or HS coach to get a message to the PSA either.

“The real winners are the prospective student-athletes, who can now make informed college decisions at an age-appropriate time,” said one Division I coach.

This new recruiting legislation applies to all sports except football and basketball, which adopted revised recruiting rules beforehand.

What does this mean for prospective student-athletes and their parents?

If ALL recruiting contact now begins September 1 of junior year, does it mean that the college recruiting process begins September 1 of the junior year?

And since college coaches can’t have any recruiting contact with my PSA until then, does it mean we (as parents) shouldn’t do anything until September 1 either?

My answer to both is an emphatic “No.”

If you have a student-athlete who is a potential Division I prospect, consider this:

First, this new legislation was absolutely necessary. Early recruiting was getting out of hand. There’s no reason to expect a 13-14 year old to make a life-impacting decision about their college future. In fact, NCAA Research shows early recruiting was contributing to a rise in college transfer rates, increased stress levels for young PSA’s, hurting athletic development, and causing kids to lose passion for their sport.

Eliminating early recruiting across the board is good for PSA’s, parents and coaches because there’s a clear, unmistakable line drawn now. Before September 1 of your junior year, a coach cannot express interest in a player. After September 1, they can express as much interest (and as often) as they want. In fact, they can now pay for a PSA to come to their school for an official visit. Prior to this rule change, a PSA could only take official visits during their senior year.

Additionally, this new legislation also means that many PSA/parents will elect to wait to become proactive, which is going to serve go-getting PSA’s extremely well.

In other words, the question every PSA should be asking themselves is:

“What should I be doing prior to September 1 of my junior year to position myself for college opportunities?”

SAS Demo Profile

Here are some ideas:

Introduce yourself to coaches… via email, express interest in their programs, provide website & film, follow coaches on Twitter & Facebook. In other words, continue doing all the things you should have been doing prior to your junior year. Even though coaches cannot reciprocate interest until September 1 of your junior year, you are forcing them to start a file on you. You are prompting them to begin the EVALUATION process. This is how you throw your hat in the ring. This is how you build your brand before the flood gates open on September 1. It’s like getting in line before the next iPhone release or buying tickets today for a concert 6 months from now. Get in line right now if you want to be called by college coaches on September 1.

Continue emailing coaches with updates/touches every 60 days. Again, you know coaches aren’t allowed to have any “recruiting contact” with you prior to Sept. 1 of your junior year, and you should communicate that with coaches each time you engage them with a new touch. In fact, you can now expect them NOT to reply! The point of the 60-day follow-up emails is NOT to get a reply; it’s to build your brand. It’s to make a name for yourself and get on radars so that when Sept. 1 does arrive, you will position yourself at the top of many coaches’ recruiting boards.

Research schools and start to bring a realistic pool of college targets into focus. Under the new guidelines, NOBODY knows where they stand until Sept. 1 of their junior year (which proponents of the ban agree is the way it should be). Your club/HS coach is no longer able to circumvent the process by serving as a messenger for college coaches who want to communicate with you prior to the start of your junior year. And college coaches aren’t allowed to entice kids to make a decision on their verbal offer prior to Sept 1 either. This means that it’s more critical than ever now for kids & parents to carefully research colleges, be open to many different options, loosen their restrictions on location, size, prestige of school, etc. Be open-minded to all possibilities. Because even though coaches can no longer demonstrate interest in a PSA prior to Sept 1 of their junior year, they will be spending a majority of their time EVALUATING players.

In other words, if you’re a freshman or sophomore and have only been introducing yourself to the Top 20 programs in the nation, and you then learn on Sept 1 of your junior year that none of these programs share your interest, then you’re essentially forced to start over. You’ve moved yourself to the back of the line, so to speak. So cast a wide net. Don’t rule out Division II, III and NAIA opportunities. Engage these coaches early and often so that if your Division I opportunities wind up being limited, then at least you’ve been proactive with a more suitable level. The whole point of this radical shift is the student’s recruiting experience, and now PSA’s can better enjoy the experience without feeling like they’ll lose scholarship opportunities by waiting.

Attend a college camp… and take a campus tour while you’re there. A coach can still walk you around; they just can’t discuss recruiting or their current interest in you until Sept. 1 of your junior year. Again, the point of the camp and/or the campus tour prior to the start of your junior year is NOT so you can get direct recruiting feedback from these coaches. It’s purely EVALUATIVE.

In summary, the game has changed – and for the better, I believe. There is a much clearer line in the sand now and everyone must play by the same rules. For parents and PSA’s, it really comes down to this simple, unmistakable fact: Before your junior year in high school, PSA’s are driving the EVALUATION process. Once your junior year begins, RECRUITING kicks into high gear.

In other words, if September 1 arrives and coaches show immediate interest in you, then you know you have provided them enough evaluation opportunities, and they believe you to be a solution to their specific problem. If, on the other hand, September 1 arrives and programs are not demonstrating interest in you, then you either didn’t get yourself on enough college radars or coaches had ample opportunities to evaluate you and determined you aren’t what they’re looking for.

Either way, your college recruitment experience just became far more transparent – and that’s a very, very good thing.

Rex Grayner
Rex Grayner, SAS President

Rex Grayner

As a published author, public speaker and radio/television guest, Rex is widely considered among the nation’s premier authorities on college athletic recruiting.

Before founding Student-Athlete Showcase LLC in 2003, Rex served as a NCAA Division I Compliance Representative and VP of West Coast Operations for a large college recruiting firm. In 2008, Rex was honored with the prestigious “Forty Under 40” award by the Denver Business Journal.


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