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NCAA Recruitment Guide

NCAA RECRUITMENT GUIDE and REGULATIONS

The information contained below is provided only as a service to college-bound student-athletes. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained below. ALL information provided below is to serve as a general guide only. All listed data should be verified by the prospective student athlete (PSA) and their parents/guardians.

NCAA Eligibility Rules

The NCAA Eligibility Center took over operations for the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse in November 2007. The Eligibility Center certifies the academic and amateur credentials of all students who want to play sports at an NCAA Division I or II institution as freshmen. In order to practice, play and receive an athletics scholarship, students need to meet certain academic benchmarks. An additional certification process exists to make sure the student is still an amateur, which is necessary in order for the student to compete.

Division III colleges and universities develop student-athlete potential through a holistic educational approach that includes rigorous academics, competitive athletics and opportunity to pursue many interests and passions. Student-athletes are responsible for their own paths and are provided with many opportunities to develop within a comprehensive educational experience. Division III minimizes the conflicts between athletics and academics through shorter playing and practicing seasons, a lower number of contests, no redshirting or out-of-season organized activities, and a focus on regional in-season and conference play.

Division III college-bound student-athletes are not certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center because Division III colleges and universities each set their own admissions standards and there are no initial-eligibility requirements in the division. However, there are still some important things you need to know. If you are interested in Division III, please visit www.ncaa.org/d3 or contact the Division III college or university of interest regarding policies on admission, financial aid and athletics eligibility.

Initial Academic Eligibility Requirements

In October 2011 the NCAA Division I Board of Directors adopted new initial eligibility standards for prospective student-athletes entering a full-time collegiate program on or after August 1, 2016. Prospects must meet minimum academic standards to be eligible for competition during their initial year of college enrollment. The two primary components that have changed are the sliding scale index and the progression of high school core-courses required by the NCAA. All prospective student-athletes should register early in the NCAA Eligibility Center at eligibilitycenter.org, should verify that they are on track to complete at least 16 NCAA recognized Core Courses and should familiarize themselves with specific admissions criteria required by institutions where they hope to apply. All resources (including a high school core course search tool) are accessible on eligibilitycenter.org.

Amateurism Eligibility Requirements

Only an amateur student-athlete is eligible for intercollegiate athletics participation in a particular sport. Freshmen and transfer student-athletes initially enrolling at a division I institution are required to complete the amateurism certification process outlined by the NCAA via the Eligibility Center. As stated above, this information is to serve as a general guide only. All listed data should be verified by the prospective student athlete (PSA) and their parents/guardians. Student-athletes could lose their amateur status, should they:

  • Accept pay or the promise of pay for play
  • Enter into a professional contract
  • Play for a professional team
  • Enter into an agreement (oral or written) with an agent
  • Accept a benefit from an agent or runner
  • Promote a commercial product or service regardless of pay (allow your picture, name or testimonial to be used to advertise a product or service)

Under NCAA Bylaw 12.3, a student-athlete (any individual who currently participates in or who may be eligible in the future to participate in intercollegiate sport) may not agree verbally or in writing to be represented by an athlete agent in the present or in the future for the purpose of marketing the student-athlete's ability or reputation. If the student-athlete enters into such an agreement, the student-athlete is ineligible for intercollegiate competition.

Also, a student-athlete may not accept transportation or other benefits from an athlete agent. This prohibition applies to the student-athlete and his or her relatives or friends.

The term "agent" includes actual agents, runners (individuals who befriend student-athletes and frequently distribute impermissible benefits) and financial advisors.

It is not a violation of NCAA rules if a student-athlete merely talks to an agent (as long as an agreement for agent representation is not established) or socializes with an agent. For example, a student-athlete could go to dinner with an agent and no NCAA violations would result if the student-athlete provided his own transportation and paid for his meal.

It is permissible for hockey student-athletes to use the services of an advisor without jeopardizing their NCAA eligibility, provided:

  • The student-athlete (and his family) does not accept any benefits from the advisor (e.g., free services, meals); and 
  • The advisor does not market the student-athlete's athletic ability or reputation directly to a professional team on the student-athlete's behalf.

Advisors MAY:

  • Provide counsel and advice to the student-athlete and his family 
  • Review professional contracts with the student-athlete and his family 
  • Receive payment for services rendered (Advisors may not provide free services)

If you intend to retain your NCAA eligibility, Advisors MAY NOT:

  • Market student-athletes directly to a team/club in any manner 
  • Attend contract negotiations on a student-athlete's behalf 
  • Directly negotiate contracts with professional teams 
  • Enter into a contract (oral or written) with a student-athlete for representation 
  • Provide free services

National Letter of Intent Program

Most Division I and II colleges participate in the National Letter of Intent (NLI) program. Prospective student-athletes receiving athletic aid will sign an NLI. The National Letter of Intent is an agreement among participating schools that once a prospect accepts an offer of athletics financial aid to attend an NCAA school, other NCAA schools will recognize the offer and cease to recruit the prospect.  The NLI is a voluntary program with regard to both institutions and student-athletes. No prospective student-athlete or parent is required to sign the National Letter of Intent, and no institution is required to join the program.

In order to be eligible to sign an NLI, a high school or preparatory school prospective student-athlete must first register in the NCAA Eligibility Center and complete the amateurism certification questionnaire. Once a prospect has signed a National Letter of Intent, the prospect has then committed to that college for one year as long as they are accepted for admission and meet NCAA eligibility requirements. The National Letter of Intent is not an offer of admission.

For further information regarding the National Letter of Intent Program, please visit national-letter.org.

NCAA Contact Regulations

There are a significant number of rules governing the contact a college coach may have with a perspective student athlete. College coaches must follow the rules established by the NCAA. A perspective student athlete is expected to follow these rules as well. The following is an outline of the types of contacts governed by the NCAA.  As stated above, this information is to serve as a general guide only. All listed data should be verified by the prospective student athlete (PSA) and their parents/guardians.

A prospective student-athlete (PSA) is any student who has started classes for the ninth grade (seventh grade in the sport of basketball). Any student younger than the ninth grade who receives any benefits from an institution or athletics representative would also be considered a prospective student-athlete as would an enrollee at a preparatory school or two year college.

An individual remains a prospect until one of the following occur:

  • They officially register and enroll in a minimum full-time program of studies and attend classes in any term of a four-year collegiate institution's regular academic year (excluding summer);
  • They participate in a regular squad practice or competition at a four-year collegiate institution that occurs before the beginning of any term; or
  • They officially register, enroll and attend class during the summer prior to initial enrollment.

Once at least one of the above criteria are met, the prospective student-athlete is deemed a student-athlete and no longer subject to the contact limitations presented in NCAA Bylaw 13.

A contact is a face-to-face encounter between a prospective student-athlete or their parents, legal guardians or relatives and an institutional staff member or athletics representative during which any dialogue occurs in excess of an exchange or greeting.

  • Any face-to-face encounter that is prearranged (staff member positions himself/herself at a location where contact is possible) is considered contact. This includes any face-to-face encounter that takes place on the grounds of a PSA's educational institution, or at a site of competition or practice involving the PSA or the PSA's educational institution or all-star team.

Recruiting Periods

  • Contact Period. A contact period is a period of time when it is permissible for authorized athletics department staff members to make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations.
  • Evaluation Period. An evaluation period is a period of time when it is permissible for authorized athletics department staff members to be involved in off-campus activities designed to assess the academic qualifications and playing ability of PSAs. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts shall be made with the PSA during an evaluation period.
  • Quiet Period. A quiet period is a period of time when it is permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts only on the institution's campus. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts or evaluations may be made during a quiet period.
  • Dead Period. A dead period is a period of time when it is not permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts or evaluations on or off the institution's campus or to permit official or unofficial visits by PSAs to the institution's campus. During a dead period, a coaching staff member may not serve as a speaker or attend a banquet at which PSAs will be in attendance (with minor exceptions), and may not visit a PSA's institution. Written or telephone correspondence to a contactable PSA is permissible during a dead period.

1st Opportunity to Contact

Telephone Calls

Telephone calls to a PSA, his or her relatives or legal guardians may not be made before July 1 following the completion of his/her junior year in high school in all sports other than football, hockey, women's basketball and men's basketball.

  • In the sports of hockey and men's basketball, telephone calls to a PSA, his relatives or legal guardians may not be made before June 15 at the conclusion of the individual's sophomore year in high school. Thereafter, staff members are limited in the number of telephone calls made. Should you call a coach prior to those initial contact dates outlined above, it is not permissible for that coach to return your call.
  • In football, one telephone call to a PSA, his relatives or legal guardians may be made from April 15 through May 31 of the individual's junior year in high school. Additional telephone calls may not be made before September 1 at the beginning of the individual's senior year. Thereafter, institutions are limited to once per week outside a contact period, but may be made at the institution's discretion during a contact period.
  • In women's basketball, a telephone call to a PSA, her relatives or legal guardians may be made during April of her junior year in high school, 1 during May of her junior year, 1 between June 1 - June 20, 1 call between June 21 - June 30, and 3 calls during July at a rate of once per week (all following junior year). Thereafter, institutions are limited to 1 call per week outside a contact period and unlimited during a contact period.

Should you call a coach prior to those initial contact dates outlined above, it is not permissible for that coach to return your call.

Recruiting Materials

  • Mail & Email.  In sports other than men's basketball and hockey, an institution shall not provide recruiting materials, including general correspondence related to athletics, to a PSA (or his/her parents or legal guardians) until September 1 at the beginning of their junior year in high school. In men's basketball and hockey, an institution shall not provide recruiting materials until June 15 at the conclusion of the PSA's sophomore year in high school.
  • An institution may provide the following items at any time: Camp or Clinic Brochures, Questionnaires, Nonathletic Institutional Publications (academic, admission publications) and NCAA Educational Materials.
  • Texting & Direct Social Media Messaging.  With the exception of men's basketball, coaches may not text a PSA (or his/her parents or legal guardians) until the PSA signs an NLI with the institution. In men's basketball, coaches may text/IM PSAs beginning June 15 at the conclusion of the individual's sophomore year in high school provided the message is sent directly to the PSA (or his parents or legal guardians) and is private between only the sender and recipient (e.g., no use of chat rooms, message boards, posting to walls).

Important NCAA References

The following resources will provide valuable information to college-bound student-athletes:

NCAA Eligibility Center
Toll Free: 877/262-1492
International Callers: 317/223-0700
Fax: 317/968-5100
eligibilitycenter.org

NCAA National Office
317/917-6222
Hotline: 800/638-3731
Fax: 317/917-6622
ncaa.org

Additional Resources
NCAA Guide for College Bound Student-Athletes
NCAA Reference Guide - Includes Core Course & Sliding Scale Requirements