It is vital to be familiar with the recruiting process so you can be proactive and in full command of your own!
Knowing these terms will ensure you are on the right track in your recruiting process. Those who know about the various challenges will be better able to meet them, which means less stress!
Here are 10 recruiting terms to know
1. NCAA Eligibility
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the recruiting process is ensuring as a high school student-athlete you are eligible for NCAA competition. While this may sound very obvious, it is worth noting, as failing to meet the basic requirements in the classroom could derail your process before it really gets going.
Academically, the NCAA requires a mix of “core” courses (a 16-course list including a mix of English, Math, etc.), a minimum grade-point average for Divisions I and II (changing in 2016 to a 2.3 GPA) and a minimum combined SAT or ACT score based on a sliding scale.
You can find these eligibility requirements in detail on the NCAA’s website. Don’t get knocked out of the recruiting game before it stats by slacking in the classroom!
Athletic scholarships at the NCAA Division I and Division II levels are a huge draw for players and families. At their core level, scholarships are compensation received to offset the cost of tuition.
Keep in mind that for NCAA Division III and select Division I schools (notably those competing in the Ivy and Patriot Leagues – Harvard, Yale, Bucknell, Lehigh, etc.), there are no athletic scholarships.
3. “Equivalency” vs. “Headcount” Sports
An NCAA “equivalency” sport (e.g., lacrosse, soccer) simply means scholarship money can be spread among players, unlike non-equivalency sports (or “headcount” sports) like volleyball or football, where a certain number of players only may receive money.
A simple way to think of this principle is to consider scholarships in total monetary terms vs. individual scholarship numbers. For example, if an equivalency sport team has $100 in scholarships and 10 players, it can provide every player $10, or some other combination of their choosing. Conversely, in a headcount sport, a team must give that $100 to a specified number of players only – say 5 of the 10 team members.
In NCAA equivalency sports, the allocation of athletic scholarship money is spread across the entire team regardless of class year. This means that money is spread from seniors to freshman on a year-to-year basis and is not by calculated by grade.
As such, the concept of a “full-ride” in equivalency sports is not common.
Look into things like financial aid (for those who qualify), grants, academic scholarships and other avenues through your high school during your recruiting process.
4. “Contact” Rules
A question that often arises in the recruiting process centers around the contact rules between high school student-athletes and college coaches. These rules vary greatly from sport-to-sport, which can cause confusion.
College coaches cannot make phone calls to a prospective student athlete until July 1 after their junior year of high school. The key word here, though, is “make,” because coaches can receive phone calls at any time (LOOPHOLE ALERT!).
As a student-athlete, you are permitted to call and email a college coach whenever you choose. While coaches cannot initiate a contact, they may pick up a phone call or respond to an email.
Simply put, “contact” can just be considered any interaction with a college coach. A majority of contact must be initiated by the student-athlete.
Here are some quick facts about phone calls during the recruiting process:
• A phone call is considered “any transmitted human voice exchange,” which is a fancy way of saying this includes things like video conferencing (Skype, Google Hangout, FaceTime, etc.).
• A coach cannot initiate a phone call prior to July 1 after a student-athlete’s junior year, but may answer phone calls at any time.
• After July 1, a coach can only initiate one call per week, except in the five days prior to an Official Visit, when an unlimited amount of calls may be made.
• Another exception falls on the National Letter of Intent Signing Date and the two days immediately following this date, when again unlimited coach/staff to prospective student-athletes calls may be made.
There are no restrictions on text messaging with a college coach.
There are no restrictions on email correspondence with a college coach. Of note: While a coach may respond to emails, they cannot send you recruiting information in the form of manuals, promotional materials, etc. until September 1 of your junior year of high school.
5. Dead Periods
According the NCAA, a recruiting “dead period” is a time when a college coach may not make in-person recruiting contacts or evaluations on or off the institution’s campus or to permit official or unofficial visits by prospective student-athletes to the institution’s campus.
Said another way, during a set period of time (which varies by sport), coaches may not speak to prospective student-athletes in person or evaluate them playing. However, they can still write and make/receive phone calls during this time.
6. Highlight Reels
A highlight reel is a 3-5 minute package of clips highlighting your abilities as a player. Since they cannot possibly see every student playing in a high school or recruiting event, college coaches use these reels to determine which players may be a good fit for their program.
As a student-athlete, having a highlight reel is an imperative step in the recruiting process, and serves as the bait to get a college coach interested in you as a prospect.
7. Official Visits
The only real way to discover if a school is right for you is by visiting the campus, getting a feel for the people and community and meeting potential teammates. There are two main types of these visits, known as Official or Unofficial visits.
• Pertains to Division I and Division II programs only.
• Prospective student athletes can only make one official visit to any given institution.
• Prospective student athletes can only make official visits during their senior year of high school.
• Prospective student athletes can make no more than five total official visits to Division I schools.
• Official visits can only last 48 hours.
• The college team can pay for your travel and lodging. This is the main distinction between an official and unofficial visit.
• Prospective student athletes may receive free admission to the team’s games, but can only sit in the general seating area.
• Your host can be a player on the team, who receives a set amount of money to cover your expenses while you are on campus.
• Prospective student athletes cannot use this allotment to buy souvenirs or other merchandise.
8. Unofficial Visits
• Pertains to Divisions I, II and III.
• All visits before senior year are by definition unofficial.
• Prospective student athletes pay all travel expenses associated with the visit.
• Prospective student athletes can stay on campus with a member of the team or another student.
• Prospective student athletes can take as many unofficial visits as they like to any number of colleges at any time.
• Prospective student athletes can meet with the college coach while on campus (except during a dead period).
• Coaches can help prospective athletes coordinate NCAA unofficial visits.
9. Recruiting Showcases
Defining a Showcase
A showcase is essentially an individual competition during which a team and/or individual has the opportunity to play in front of college coaches. Showcases can drastically range in size. As a general rule of thumb, college coaches will be in attendance at showcases.
These will differ from tournaments, which are team-focused and generally larger.
10. College Commitment
A “verbal” commitment is a non-binding agreement where you have committed to a school before you can actually sign a letter of intent. Generally, these are made prior to your senior year, and serve as a sort of “handshake agreement” to attend a school.
National Letter of Intent (NLI)
The National Letter of Intent is a binding agreement in which you sign a letter agreeing to attend a particular school (and that school only). It is an official document tying you to an institution.