DI Council adopts rules to curb early recruiting

Changes more closely align with college decision timeline for student body

April 19, 2019 11:13amMichelle Brutlag Hosick

A student-athlete’s college search will more closely align with that of the general student body under new rules adopted this week by the Division I Council.

Designed to curb early recruiting, the rules were approved during the Council’s meeting Thursday and Friday in Indianapolis.

The changes are the second phase of an emphasis on early recruiting prioritized by the Division I Board of Directors in its strategic areas of emphasis adopted last year. The process also has been informed by the NCAA Presidential Forum’s principles to guide recruitment. Both the board and the forum emphasized supporting student-athletes’ and prospects’ overall well-being.

This week’s changes mark the second consecutive year that Division I adopted rules intended to curb early recruiting. The new rules address early recruiting in sports other than football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse and softball and create a separate structure for men’s ice hockey recruiting.

The rule that applies to most sports creates a phased-in recruiting approach that allows coaches to build relationships with prospective student-athletes through phone calls and other types of communication before allowing for visits and off-campus contact. The early recruiting review was undertaken by a subcommittee of the Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee, and the committee will continue to work on regulating verbal scholarship offers.

Justin Sell, athletics director at South Dakota State and chair of the Student-Athlete Experience Committee, said the changes resulted from close collaboration with both student-athletes and coaches associations.

“We feel strongly that it’s an incredible enhancement to our current situation and how students are being recruited,” Sell said. “At the end of the day, these changes will eliminate students in the ninth grade and younger being recruited while still providing access to our campuses early enough to make informed financial and educational decisions on where to go for college.”

The proposal for most sports would allow communication — either from or to a coach — June 15 after the sophomore year of high school and would allow visits beginning Aug. 1 before the junior year of high school.

The men’s ice hockey recruiting model allows telephone calls, text messages and other similar contact as well as unofficial visits to begin Jan. 1 of a prospective student-athlete’s sophomore year in high school. Official visits, verbal offers and other off-campus contacts are permitted beginning Aug. 1 before the junior year in high school.

The committee decided to create the alternative process for men’s ice hockey after extensive collaboration with the Hockey Commissioners Association. This proposal recognizes the unique professional opportunities available in the sport and allows prospective student-athletes to make informed decisions regarding the opportunity to pursue collegiate or professional hockey.

The Student-Athlete Experience Committee is continuing to review and collaborate with coaches on an appropriate early recruiting model for baseball and anticipates rule changes in spring 2020. Some sports, such as lacrosse and softball, recently changed their recruiting models to prevent early recruiting and didn’t want to change their dates again, so those were removed from the proposal. Basketball and football did extensive studies of their recruiting models and revised them in recent years.

The recruiting proposals will become effective at the close of the Division I Board of Directors meeting May 1.

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