As you start the college recruiting process, you could become overwhelmed with details and deadlines. Because there are different recruiting and communication rules for different divisions, how do you know when you are being recruited? Let’s take a more detailed look at the recruiting process.
When Do College Coaches Start Evaluating Recruits?
When a college coach is evaluating a recruit, they are determining if that athlete could benefit the coach’s future roster. Evaluation can be live at an event or online via a highlight video or streaming match. It’s an ongoing process that happens over several years, with coaches evaluating athleticism, physicality, personality, character and leadership skills. Each coach on staff evaluates a recruit, generally before they communicate with a particular recruit or the recruit’s coach.
The first divisions to start evaluating recruits are women’s NCAA Division I and high-level Division II programs. Many coaches at these programs will put together a list of 13- to 14-year-old prospects to watch and evaluate over the following few years.
Men’s NCAA Division I and II programs start evaluating recruits around the 15- to 16-year-old age group but will continue evaluating as the recruit grows and matures.
For most NAIA, Division III and NJCAA programs, coaches will start evaluating recruits when they are 16- or 17-years old, once the recruit has either taken his or her SAT or ACT exams and has a more complete high school transcript, as academics are a big part of recruiting process as well.
Because women’s collegiate beach volleyball is still relatively new, evaluation could range from 13- to 14-year-old prospects for high-level programs to much later for new or lower-level programs.
These are general guidelines, and evaluation can happen earlier or later. Roster needs are specific to each college, and injuries, transfers or decommitments could change roster needs instantly. For more information on the evaluation period, visit NCSA.
When Do College Coaches Start Communicating with Recruits?
For all volleyball disciplines (men’s, women’s and beach), NCAA Division I and II college coaches cannot directly communicate with recruits or their families until June 15 after the recruit’s sophomore year.
For NAIA, NCAA Division III and NJCAA, there are fewer restrictions for coaches to directly communicate with recruits. Most coaches at these levels start communicating with recruits after their sophomore year, primarily for academic reasons and because these divisions typically finalize recruiting rosters later than NCAA DI and DII programs. In addition, some NJCAA programs have restrictions on communication with recruits based on where the recruit lives.
College coaches at all levels can communicate with a recruit’s high school or club coach/director, which is another indicator that the coach is evaluating a player.
It’s important to note that there are NO RESTRICTIONS for when a recruit can communicate with college coaches at any level. Recruits can email, text, direct message and leave voicemails for college coaches at any time, but the college coach is restricted on replying dependent on their division and the age of the recruit.
When Can Recruits Go on An Unofficial or Official Visit?
For any NCAA Division I program (men’s, women’s and beach), official and unofficial visits cannot happen until Aug. 1 before the recruit’s junior year, and the recruit can only go on five official visits.
For NCAA Division II programs (men’s, women’s and beach), unofficial visits can happen at any time and official visits can happen after June 15 of the recruit’s sophomore year, the same date as when direct communication can start.
For NJCAA and NCAA Division III programs, unofficial visits can happen at any time, and official visits can happen after the first day of class for a recruit’s junior year for NJCAA and after Jan. 1 of the recruit’s junior year for Division III. For NAIA, unofficial and official visits can happen at any time.
When Do College Coaches Make an Offer?
A lot of thought goes into a college coach making a roster or scholarship offer. A college coach wants to ensure that the recruit is not only at the athletic level they are looking for, but also fits in with the team’s culture and character. While there are certain dates that coaches can start offering a recruit, they will not always offer on that date.
For NCAA Division I and Division II women’s programs, coaches can make a verbal offer after June 15 of the recruit’s sophomore year. While a verbal offer and acceptance is considered a solid agreement, recruits do not receive a written offer (National Letter of Intent) until mid-November of their senior year. High-level programs typically offer their top recruits the summer after the recruit’s sophomore year, but many offers do not happen until after campus visits, which typically happen during the fall season.
While NCAA Division I and Division II men’s programs can also make a verbal offer after June 15 of the recruit’s sophomore year, many men’s programs offer later into a recruit’s junior year because of the growth timeline for men’s players. Also, campus visits typically happen during the men’s collegiate season, which is in the spring semester.
For NCAA Division III, NAIA and NJCAA, coaches can make an offer at any time, although these three divisions usually offer recruits in their junior or senior year after the recruit has taken their SAT or ACT exams.
For beach programs, the dates for when a college coach can make an offer to a recruit align with their respective divisions. When a coach will offer, though, varies. The top beach programs typically offer the summer after a recruit’s sophomore year while newer or lower-level programs offer into a recruit’s junior or senior year.
While the recruiting process can be overwhelming, it can also be very exciting! Remember each recruit’s recruiting journey is different, just as each college coach’s recruiting needs are different, so be patience, stay persistent and have fun along the way.! For more helpful recruiting tips and resources, visit www.ncsasports.org.
About the Author: Sue Webber is a former college volleyball player for the University of Illinois and former collegiate coach at the NAIA and Division I levels. She is the event partnership director for USA Volleyball partner Next College Student Athlete, which helps guide athletes through the college recruiting process.