Recruiting updates for college bound student athletes

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association has made updates to the recruiting processes for college bound student athletes due to the spread of COVID-19. Valley News/Jeff Pack photo

While recent developments surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are impacting more than just sports and recruiting, here is some information that current student athletes can be focused on to stay ahead at this point in the process.

Recruiting Updates

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has suspended in-person recruiting activity, including all face-to-face contacts on and off college campuses through May 31. They have also recommended college coaches cancel any scheduled official and unofficial visits.

On March 30, the NCAA Division 1 Council officially voted to grant spring sport athletes an additional year of eligibility. Some important things to note:

  • The decision to offer an additional year of eligibility is at the discretion of individual schools.
  • Seniors who return will not count toward the team’s scholarship limit.
  • Roster limit is increased for baseball. It is the only spring sport with roster limits.
  • Winter sports will not receive eligibility relief.

What does this change mean for unrecruited 2020 student-athletes still trying to earn a roster spot? While most Division 1 and Division 2 college coaches have finalized their roster for the 2020-2021 season, the NCAA’s eligibility relief plan may limit unsigned seniors recruiting opportunities if coaches decide to hold roster spots for current athletes who plan to return for a fifth year. To increase their opportunities, 2020 seniors should remain open-minded about different division levels and step up their recruiting efforts online.

For 2020 seniors already committed, eligibility relief may significantly impact their rookie year. Athletes committed to programs with several seniors could be facing a hugely different roster if their school decides to honor an extension of eligibility. Fortunately, the NCAA Division 1 Council announced that seniors who return will not count toward the team’s scholarship limit.

How will this change college coaches’ recruiting needs? Each of the sports seasons presents their own unique challenges:

Fall Sports

Because the fall season was not impacted by coronavirus, the only change to recruiting will be the shift to no in-person recruiting through Saturday, May 31. Coaches are still available on the phone, email, text and social media. Expect the same recruiting activity, just without the face to face contact.

Winter Sports

The NCAA Division 1 Council has declined to extend eligibility for winter sport athletes. This means recruiting for these sports will continue as expected, just without the face to face communication.

Spring Sports

Now that the NCAA Division 1 has officially granted eligibility relief, coaches’ recruiting needs for the 2021 class may change, as there is now an opportunity for senior athletes to compete for an additional year. If an athlete has a program they have committed to or is speaking with, they should make sure to communicate with the coach regularly.

What do these changes mean for 2021 recruits?

While it is still unclear how the NCAA eligibility relief for current 2020 college seniors will impact 2021 recruits, college coaches do know that roster spot availability and scholarship opportunities will not be affected for Division 1 programs. The new recruiting dead period now running through May 31 will change the recruiting process, even if just briefly.

One thing 2021 recruits can do to stay on top of their recruiting is make phone calls to recruiting coordinators. Be sure to create a plan and prepare questions before picking up the phone to ensure the conversation is productive for both parties. Email is also a great way to start the recruiting conversation and continue a dialogue between coaches and recruits. Finally, since college coaches are unable to recruit in person, with no sports in effect at the time, make sure that highlight video is up to par with the most recent clips available. Do not be afraid to ask current coaches to help in the process as well.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at