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?”

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 fo a concert 6 months from now. Get in line right now if you want to be called by college coaches when your junior year begins.

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 Student Athlete Showcase
Rex Grayner
President / Founder
Student-Athlete Showcase



Prior to founding SAS in 2003, Rex Grayner was a former college baseball player, travel baseball coach and NCAA Division I Compliance representative. Rex earned a Master’s Degree in Sports Management from Central Michigan University and has helped an estimated 10,000 prospective student-athletes navigate the college recruitment process.

Need to schedule a meeting with Rex? View Rex’s Calendar


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22 Responses

  1. Avatar

    Your article is misleading and a lot of it is untrue for most prospective student athletes. The NCAA did not pass these regulations for all sports. A lot of these may only be for softball. NCAA only changed the rule on official/unofficial visits. If you disagree, please provide a direct link the NCAA legislation as there website does not show what you are reporting.

    1. Rex Grayner

      JB, sincerely appreciate your comments and feedback. I encourage you to refer to the four (4) articles referenced at the bottom of the blog post for additional clarity, specifically the one released by the NCAA on April 18 (see below). While lacrosse & softball led the charge, the NCAA confirms that the new rules will affect all sports excluding football and basketball, which implemented new legislation prior to this. While the new rule does affect when kids can take official & unofficial visits, it will actually prohibit any “recruiting conversations” of any kind before Sept. 1 of the PSA’s junior year. I hope this helps, and please feel free to contact me directly to discuss further.

    2. Avatar

      Hi JB,

      Your comment is absolutely correct; the article is actually wrong. The link Mr. Grayner provided actually backs your point completely. I left a comment below. Hopefully, he will issue a correction.

  2. Avatar

    Hi Rex,
    As a parent of a basketball player, which apparently has different contact/recruiting guidelines, can you please direct me on where to go to get this information for basketball players? Thank you!

  3. Avatar

    The article states that the rules go into effect for the 2018 school year. Is that 2017-2018 (in effect as of now), or is it for the 2018-2019 (next) school year? Thanks

  4. Avatar

    Is this just for Div. 1 or all divisions? Thanks in advance!

  5. Avatar

    According to the SEC compliance office softball and lacrosse are the only two sports where coaches can not take calls from recruits prior to September 1st of their junior year. Other sports can still take calls and speak to recruits about their programs (recruiting conversations), although some sports are looking to adopt the same rule that lacrosse already had in place and softball adopted. No recruiting talks does apply to all sports at camps and clinics.

  6. Avatar

    Hi Mr. Grayer, You Referenced the NCAA Website earlier in your comments. This quoted is taken directly from the article link you provided:

    “The Student-Athlete Experience Committee will continue to examine the recruiting environment, with communications (telephone, email, text), verbal and written offers, and off-campus contacts on the agenda for the next phase.”

    At this point (other than softball), the new rules do not apply to conversations away from ID Camps and tournaments. In other words, a college coach is still able to communicate with a club coach of a sophomore athlete to show interest, and the sophomore athlete can still call the college coach directly to communicate interest in the school. I can tell you this first hand as my sophomore child is actively communicating with a D1 coach and might be on the verge of verbally committing to the school.

    With the utmost respect for your work, it would be a lot more helpful if you did some first-hand research rather than simply attempting to rewrite the NCAA article you referenced and adding your (misleading) slant on it. In the meantime, I think a correction on your part is warranted a many of us parents are already struggling to adjust to the new rules without the additional complication of poorly researched articles. Thank you!

    1. Rex Grayner

      Barry, I apologize ahead of time for the long reply, but your post deserved a thorough response. I sincerely appreciate your feedback, and I know you’re not alone. Many parents are struggling to grasp the new rule changes. This conversation is important, and your remarks are heartfelt. My intention – and I know you share my intention – is to inform and educate parents, athletes & coaches to the best of my ability. It was never my aim to mislead anyone on something as significant as this, which is why I researched it meticulously before publishing my blog article.

      With regards to the sports affected by these rule changes, allow me to be explicitly clear: it is not only softball that is impacted. The new “Sept. 1 rule” is effective immediately and applies to ALL sports with the exception of football and basketball. The three (3) sources cited in my article each confirm this fact.

      ESPN (April 18): “Under the new rules, approved this week in Indianapolis for all sports other than football and men’s and women’s basketball, Sept. 1 of a prospective student-athlete’s junior year of high school is the key date. That is the date official visits can begin, instead of the first day of classes for senior year. Additionally, athletics departments can’t participate in a recruit’s unofficial visit until Sept. 1 of the recruit’s junior year in high school, and recruiting conversations during a school’s camp or clinic can’t happen before Sept. 1 of the junior year.”

      Baseball America/Teddy Cahill (April 18): “… it remains to be seen how the changes the NCAA announced Wednesday—which cover all sports except football and basketball—will affect college baseball and prep baseball players.”

      NCAA (April 18): “The changes will affect several aspects of the recruiting model. For student-athletes in sports other than football and basketball, official visits now can begin Sept. 1 of a prospect’s junior year in high school instead of the first day of classes for senior year.”

      “Additionally, athletics departments can’t participate in a recruit’s unofficial visit until Sept. 1 of the recruit’s junior year in high school, and recruiting conversations during a school’s camp or clinic can’t happen before Sept. 1 of the junior year. Both rules apply to all sports but football and basketball, which have their own rules.”

      To ensure I was not misinterpreting these three sources and that I understood the new rule correctly, I called and spoke directly with the NCAA Legislative Department, which confirmed the details of the new rule as well.

      As I stated in my article, the new rule on early recruiting prohibits any recruiting contact of any kind between PSA and college coach prior to September 1 of the athlete’s junior year. The rule goes into effect immediately, which means any 9th or 10th grade PSA in “recruiting contact” with college coaches now must wait until Sept. 1 of the 11th grade to resume these conversations. The only part of the rule that goes into effect on August 1, 2018 is the part about official visits, which will now allow college coaches to begin offering paid visits to juniors.

      According to the NCAA Legislative Department, the new rule does in fact apply to recruiting contact both at and away from ID camps and tournaments. At a camp, there can be no recruiting contact of any kind between college coach and PSA. And while college coaches and club coaches will likely still communicate, there can be no dialogue about the college coach’s interest in a specific PSA. Also, according to the NCAA Legislative Department, a freshman or sophomore PSA may no longer call college coaches directly to discuss interest in one another. Again, for those kids who are or were having these types of conversations, according to the NCAA Legislative Department, the dialogue must cease immediately until Sept. 1 of the athlete’s junior year.

      This is a critical area of clarification for parents, HS/club coaches and student-athletes. And while I do respect your request for a correction on my part, please know that the details outlined in my article were 100% confirmed via three sources plus a lengthy phone call with the NCAA directly.

      In closing, I realize radical changes such as these can bring about confusion and frustration, and I hope you believe I am and will continue doing my part to help parents like you better understand these changes, and how to benefit from them.

      Yours in Sport & Education,

      Rex Grayner

  7. Avatar

    I talked to 3 D1 soccer coaches who all interpret the rule changes differently then you. I also read the actual rule as it applies to girls sports other than basketball and now softball. You describe the narrower rule as it applies to softball but to say that a PSA can’t call a coach and discuss recruiting prior to Sept 1 of the junior year is patently false. A coach can also discuss a PSA with a club or high school coach. I’m very dissapointed in your blog since you hold yourself out as the expert. Anyone reading this blog should do their own research and speak to their club coach and CAP director.

    1. SAS

      JA, I sincerely appreciate your comments. I sent you a lengthy email outlining the details as outlined for me by the NCAA Legislative Department, which oversees all rule changes including the new Sept. 1 recruiting rule. And while I’m bummed you’re disappointed in my blog, I understand your position. It’s clear that it’s going to take some time for everyone (including the 3 Division I soccer coaches you spoke with) to grasp the new rules. The D1 coaches I’ve met with have all been educated about the new rules on early recruiting, and are complying by not having any recruiting contact of ANY kind with PSA before Sept. 1 of their junior year. But that doesn’t mean all Division I coaches have understood and/or adapted to the new rules yet. As with most radical change, a transition period is to be expected. In the meantime, it’s continued dialogue such as this that will play an important role in educating PSA, parents & coaches. Again, thank you for taking time to post your thoughts here. I hope my personal email provides additional clarity for you.

  8. Avatar

    Hi Rex,

    Thank you for your very thorough reply! I can only speak from first hand experience about women’s soccer. But before I list them, I want to differentiate between visits and communication. Yes, visits and conversations during a visit to a school has changed. However phone, text, and email has not.

    Here are my first hand findings

    1) Several freshman and sophomore girls at my daughter’s club are continuing to have on going talks with large D1 schools.

    2) Four sophomores have received verbal commitments after 4/25/18.

    3) Below is an email from Georgetown University. Please note their comments about communication. I’m guessing that large D1 programs will not put themselves at risk without having thoroughly reschedule the topic: “The rule change has not impacted other forms of communication (i.e. phone calls, emails, etc). ”

    “Dear Lisa

    With the recent changes in NCAA legislation, we wanted to keep you informed to the best of our knowledge.

    In accordance with the NCAA rules, prospective student-athletes are no longer allowed to take unofficial visits until September 1 of their junior year. Official visits have been moved up to September 1 of junior year as well (previously September 1 of senior year). Recruits are still allowed to take a University-approved campus tour during this time but cannot meet with the coaching staff or have any recruiting-related contact while on campus. The rule change has not impacted other forms of communication (i.e. phone calls, emails, etc).

    Thus, ID Clinics will allow players the opportunity to interact with the institution’s coaching staff and players, which otherwise is no longer permissible outside of clinics prior to September 1 of junior year. No recruiting-related conversation can happen at an ID clinic per NCAA rules. However, campus-approved tours and general information is allowed.

    The overall goal of these changes is to benefit prospective student-athletes by slowing down the process and changing the pressures associated with recruiting at these younger ages. “

    1. SAS

      Barry, thank you for your continued feedback. Awesome post. This coach is correct. The rule is not going to keep kids from calling coaches or sending texts & emails to coaches. In fact, coaches WANT kids to drive the process and engage them. And coaches can still reply to kids, as long as there is no recruiting-related communication of any kind prior to Sept. 1 of the junior year. That’s the big difference here. It’s the nature of the dialogue that has been impacted; not the forms of communication. So if college coach and PSA do correspond, then the coach is now prohibited from discussing opportunities at their school and/or expressing any interest in the athlete until Sept. 1 of their junior year. How likely will this be policed? Hard to say at this point because it’s early. One coach told me the other day that it’s going to take some time for everyone to get on board and fully comply, and in the meantime, she expects some coaches will feel compelled to report other schools that continue to ignore the new rules.

  9. Avatar

    All of these comments have been very helpful. My son is a 2021 grad (incoming high school sophomore) baseball player. I completely agree with your analysis of the new rules regarding official/unofficial visits and recruiting conversations at camps. However, based on our current experiences I have to agree with JA and BB that discussions regarding recruiting are still allowed with coaches prior to 9/1 of the student’s junior year under with the following rules:

    – Student must initiate call to coach
    – Coach can answer call, but cannot reply to a voicemail, email or text
    – Coach can communicate with the student’s high school or club coach

    In fact we know of several students who were was just verbally offered scholarships to D1 baseball programs (after new rules). The coaches had seen the students play in tournaments and contacted their high school coaches and had them call at predetermined times. These are reputable programs so I assume they know the rules. That being said, it does seem like there are much fewer underclassmen verbally committing to baseball programs this summer. Maybe the new rules are having an impact.

  10. Avatar

    Does this rule change/impact/prevent a middle school kid/parent to verbally commit to a NCAA college baseball program? Not asking if a middle school kid/parent should or shouldn’t commit but does the rule specifically mention the “gentlemans agreement” in college baseball after a kid (at any age) verbally commits to a college?

  11. Avatar

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    Would you offer guest writers to write content available for you?

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