The NCAA Division I rulebook is over 450 pages long. On top of that, each division has its own rulebook. Now that's overwhelming! How are you supposed to know how all those rules affect your recruiting process? Don't worry - we're here to help!
There are three main topics that concern you, as a prospective student-athlete: communication with college coaches, visits, and athletic scholarships. As you'll see below, the rules vary by division, and sometimes gender, so we've created some charts to make everything as clear as possible.
Communication with College Coaches
As our name suggests, we are firm believers in the importance of contacting college coaches! Although you can basically contact them whenever you want, the NCAA limits their interactions with you. So before you get discouraged by a lack of responses to your emails, review this chart to understand when coaches can and can't communicate with you.
Electronic correspondence includes emails, text messages, social media messages, etc. As you can see, coaches can send electronic correspondence about camps, questionnaires, NCAA materials, and other non-athletic publications at any time. Keep in mind that receiving such an email does not necessarily mean that that program is interested in you.
Just because coaches can’t email you back does NOT mean you shouldn’t email them! Emailing coaches is the foundation of getting exposure to be recruited. After all, coaches can watch you play, so make sure you let them know when and where they can find you!
As defined by the NCAA, there are two types of visits you can take: official and unofficial. Here’s how the NCAA differentiates between the two:
Any visit to a college campus by a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents paid for by the college is an official visit. Visits paid for by college-bound student-athletes or their parents are unofficial visits.
During an official visit the college can pay for transportation to and from the college for the prospect, lodging and three meals per day for both the prospect and the parent or guardian, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses including three tickets to a home sports event.
The only expenses a college-bound student-athlete may receive from a college during an unofficial visit are three tickets to a home sports event.
Regardless of division, you can only take one official visit per school. While you can only visit a maximum of 5 NCAA Division I schools, you can visit an unlimited number of Division II & III schools.
When you can begin taking visits depends on the division of the school:
You cannot visit schools during dead periods, which depend on division and gender:
The November dead periods revolve around the initial date for signing the National Letter of Intent, which is basically a contract for an athletic scholarship (more info below).
Download your FREE copy of our College Recruiting Essentials Resource Bundle to learn more about visits, how to set them up, and how to get the most out of them.
The maximum number of athletic scholarships a program has available depends on gender and division:
However, it’s important to know that that is the maximum number of athletic scholarships a program can award. There are many programs that are not fully-funded, and some programs don’t have any at all.
Full athletic scholarships cover tuition and fees, room, board, and course-related books, although most college soccer players do not get full scholarships. You should also know that programs can award partial scholarships. For example, rather than covering all of your expenses, a program can give you 10%, 25%, 50%, etc. The amount of money you receive can change year-to-year as well.
Scholarships can be annual or multiyear contracts. While a school can reduce the amount of athletic aid a student-athlete receives, they must provide written notification by July 1 and allow the opportunity to appeal.