NCAA Recruiting Rules Changes

NCAA I Tryouts

NCAA Recruiting Guidelines

It can be hard to follow all the subtleties of the NCAA recruiting process. Rules vary over time and across divisions.  How can you possibly keep it all straight?  (Learn about recruiting in each division:  NCAA I, II and III)

When can you call coaches?  When can they call you?  These are just a few of the important questions to ask.

In trying to remember your NCAA recruiting guidelines, it is often helpful to construct a recruiting time line.  Here are some NCAA recruiting guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Before September 1, Junior Year: Up until this point, college coaches must follow very strict recruiting guidelines. Coaches can only send you sport brochures, questionnaires, and NCAA education information. You are, however, allowed to call coaches; they just can't call you back. (Be aware of this if you intend to leave a voicemail message.) Also, you can make unofficial visits to college campuses. Any meeting with coaches must take place on campus.

  • After September 1, Junior Year: NCAA recruiting guidelines become slightly less stringent at this point. Coaches are now allowed to send all kinds of information about their school. They can even send personalized letters. In addition, coaches can now initiate email contact with you.

  • July 1, between Junior and Senior Year: Although this date varies slightly by division, this is generally the date after which college coaches can call you. NCAA recruiting guidelines relax even more after this point, as college coaches are finally allowed to contact you in person off the college campus.

  • Senior Year: During the senior year, NCAA recruiting guidelines reach their most relaxed state. You can have as many as five NCAA official visits (or, you can take NCAA unofficial visits) to college campuses after the first day of your senior year. These visits cannot last longer than 48 hours. Before you can make a visit, a coach must have a copy of both your high school transcript and an official copy of either your SAT or ACT scores.

Another area where NCAA recruiting guidelines become important is at tournaments.  Don't be offended or discouraged if a coach does not talk to you at a tournament.  The NCAA has guidelines which limit contact at tournaments.  Coaches are allowed to say "Hi" to you, but anything more is prohibited.  Coaches can talk to parents or guardians at tournaments, but this counts as one of their three off-campus in-person visits coaches are allowed.  

NCAA Division I Recruiting: Is It Right for You?

Many people end up at the wrong school because they can't differentiate between NCAA Divisions I, II or III.  If you wind up in the wrong athletic division, you're bound to be miserable.

So let's consider some of the key aspects of NCAA Division I recruiting.  Division I recruiting differs from recruiting in the other divisions in several ways.  

First of all, coaches are typically afforded several athletic scholarships.  Scholarships can be good and bad.  On the one hand, a scholarship  lessen the financial burden of going to college.  On the other hand, scholarships can often entice you to a mismatch school.  An important point for NCAA I recruiting:  Scholarships can be dangerous.  

Here are a few other points to remember when preparing for the NCAA Division I recruiting process:   

  • Division I colleges are big: And as such, roster spots are often very competitive. It is in a coach's best interest to attract as many talented players as possible. Sometimes, a coach may conveniently forget to mention that he has already offered a scholarship to another player who plays your position. Remember: Division I recruiting can be tricky.

  • Year-round commitment: Sometimes coaches won't make this entirely clear, but when you're being recruited for Division I athletics, you're being asked to play sports year-round. For some people, this is great. For others, this stinks. If you were planning to use your free time to try a bunch of new activities in college, you should perhaps opt not to be recruited for NCAA Division I.

  • Top teams compete at an elite level: But not all D1 teams do. Some lower Division I schools, which may not be quite as talented, are still forced to play the dominant powerhouses. In many cases, there are Division III schools with talent comparable to that of lower Division I schools, the main difference being that these DIII schools won't be over-matched on a routine basis. 

NCAA Division I Men's Sports Scholarships

Baseball: 11.7

Basketball: 13

Cross Country/Track and Field:  12.6

Football: 85

Golf: 4.5

Gymnastics: 6.3

Ice Hockey: 18

Lacrosse: 12.6

Soccer: 9.9

Swimming and Diving: 9.9

Tennis: 4.5

Water Polo: 4.5

Wrestling: 9.9

NCAA Division I Women's Sports Scholarships

Basketball: 15

Cross Country/Track and Field: 18

Field Hockey: 12

Golf: 6

Gymnastics: 12

Ice Hockey: 18

Lacrosse: 12

Soccer: 14

Softball: 12

Swimming and Diving: 14

Tennis: 8

Volleyball: 12

Water Polo: 4.5

NCAA I Academic Requirements

A. Graduate from high school

B. Pass these 16 core courses:

4 years English

3 years Math (Algebra I or higher)

2 years Natural/physical science (1 year of lab if 

offered by high school)

2 years Social Science

1 year Your choice of additional English OR Math OR 


4 years Any of above OR foreign language OR non-

doctrinal religion/philosophy

C. Satisfy the GPA and test score requirements on the ACT or SAT 

NCAA Division I Sliding Scale

Depending on your test scores, you will need a GPA 

somewhere between 2.0 and 3.55 to qualify. 

Regardless of your test scores and your athletic 

ability, you cannot play Division I athletics with a 

GPA below 2.0. For instance, with a GPA of 2.75, you 

would need either an SAT score of 720 or an ACT 

sum score of 59 to qualify.

You can see the full sliding scale for GPA/test scores 

For purposes of qualifying for athletics, your GPA will 

be calculated using only the 16 core courses listed 

above. Physical education and other electives not 

listed will not count towards your qualifying GPA.

You can use either the SAT or the ACT to fulfill your standardized testing requirement. A note on the ACT: the qualification requirements do not use the conventional ACT “composite” score (from 1-36) but a “sum” score. The composite score averages the four ACT sections (English, Mathematics, Reading, Science), and that is how you will usually see ACT scores written. The sum score that Division I uses is the total of the four sections (they are 36 points apiece) and so is on a scale from 4 to 144.

For many students, the NCAA Division I recruiting process is a blessing.  In the best case, you would get a large scholarship to pay for a great-fit college.  In may cases, though, this is not what happens.  The point is that Division I is not for everybody.  The recruiting process is meant to help you, not hurt you.  

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