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Recruiting Rules
 
Academics »          Recruiting Rules »          Getting Noticed »

Everyone who wants to play college baseball is anxious to hear that a college is interested in them. We'll discuss how to get colleges to notice you below. But you should be aware that, particularly for NCAA schools, there are very rigid rules regarding when college coaches are allowed to call and visit you. Some of rules are pretty complicated. So, rather than trying to explain every nuance of the rules, we're going to try to focus on the basics. If you have more detailed questions, please email us and we'll get you an answer. Another good source of information on the rules is the NCAA's Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete, which is referred to above. Everyone considering playing for an NCAA school should get a copy of that publication.

Before starting with the rules it's important to understand a few terms that keep popping up in the rules. A prospect is a student-athlete who has started classes for the ninth grade and who would like to play college sports. A contact is any face-to-face encounter between a student-athlete or his parents and a college representative (usually a coach) during which any dialogue occurs in excess of saying hello or a similar greeting. If the encounter is pre-arranged it counts as a contact regardless of what is said (even hello). An evaluation is any off-campus activity designed to assess the academic qualifications or athletic ability of a student-athlete, including any visit to the student-athlete's high school (during which no contact occurs) for the observation of a practice or game.

The following table provides an overview of the regulations and focuses mainly on when certain recruiting activities can take place.
  Division I Division II Division III
Phone call from prospect to coach at prospect expense Anytime Anytime Anytime
Phone call to prospect from college coach 1 call during March of prospect's junior year and none before
Maximum of 1 call per week after July 1 following junior year
Maximum of 1 call per week after June 15 following junior year No limit on calls and when they can be made
Contacts at home or school 1 visit during April of prospect's junior year and none before
Maximum of 3 contacts during prospect's senior year
No contacts before June 15 following junior year; limit of 3 contacts during academic year No contacts until prospect has completed his junior year
College coach watching prospect play or practice during high school season Up to 7 times during prospect's senior year (7 minus number of contacts) No limit on number of evaluations No limit on number of evaluations
College coach watching prospect play or practice outside the academic year Unlimited as long as there are no contacts involved Unlimited as long as there are no contacts involved Unlimited as long as there are no contacts involved
Unofficial college visits No limit or time restrictions No limit or time restrictions No limit or time restrictions
Official college visits 1 per college during senior year with maximum of five visits 1 per college during senior year with maximum of five visits 1 per college during senior year
Questionnaires & Camp brochures Any time Any time Any time
Recruiting materials Any time after September 1 of junior year Any time after September 1 of junior year Any time
How do emails and instant messaging fit into these rules? The basic rules were written long before the internet (ask your parents about what it was like "back in the day") came along so the effect of the internet wasn't contemplated in the original rules. There have been amendments, though, to address the internet. Here's what the rules say about electronic communication:
  • "All electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., electronic mail, Instant Messenger, facsimiles, pages, text messaging) shall not be considered telephone calls."
  • Under the Recruiting Materials section, the NCAA says "Electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., electronic mail, Instant Messenger, facsimiles, pages, text messaging) may be sent to a prospect."
So what does this mean? My interpretation is that email and the like fall under the Recruiting Materials guidelines explained above. That is, they can be sent after September 1 of your junior year and I can find no limitations in the rules regarding the frequency of those communications.

The recruiting process for NAIA schools is a lot less structured. Most significantly, their coaches can contact prospects whenever they like and they can "work out" prospects during campus visits. Junior colleges seem to have similar latitude but we are still researching their recruiting rules.
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