What is a Prospective student-athlete?
A student-athlete becomes a prospective student-athlete when he starts ninth-grade classes; or if before the student-athlete’s ninth-grade year, a college gives the athlete, his relatives or his friends any financial aid or other benefits that the college does not provide to students generally.
What is a contact?
A contact occurs any time a college coach says more than hello during a face-to-face contact with a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents off the college’s campus.
During a contact period a college coach may have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, watch student-athletes compete and visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents.
During an evaluation period a college coach may watch college-bound student-athletes compete, visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents. However, a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents off the college’s campus during an evaluation period.
During a quiet period a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools. Coaches may write or telephone college-bound student-athletes or their parents during this time.
During a dead period a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools. Coaches may write and telephone student-athletes or their parents during a dead period.
What is the difference between an official visit and an unofficial visit?
Any visit to a college campus by a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents paid for by the college is an official visit. Visits paid for by college-bound student-athletes or their parents are unofficial visits. During an official visit the college can pay for transportation to and from the college for the prospect, lodging and three meals per day for the prospect and the parent or guardian, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses including three tickets to a home sports event. The only expenses a college-bound student-athlete may receive from a college during an unofficial visit are three tickets to a home sports event.
A recruit’s pledge to the coaching staff that he intends to accept their scholarship offer and attend a specific institution. The pledge is non-binding until a National Letter-of-Intent is signed. If a prospect breaks off a commitment with one school to commit to another, it is called a de-commitment.
A commitment made to the coaching staff of a specific school but not made public.
A commitment in which the recruit will continue to take official visits to other schools.
National Signing Day
The first day prospective student-athletes can sign a National Letter of Intent (see below). For high school football athletes, Signing Day falls on the first Wednesday of February. There is a separate signing day for midseason transfers (junior college transfers) in December.
National Letter of Intent
A National Letter of Intent is signed by a college-bound student-athlete when the student-athlete agrees to attend a Division I or II college or university for one academic year. Participating institutions agree to provide financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete as long as the student-athlete is admitted to the school and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. Other forms of financial aid do not guarantee the student-athlete financial aid.
The National Letter of Intent is voluntary and not required for a student-athlete to receive financial aid or participate in sports.
Signing a National Letter of Intent ends the recruiting process since participating schools are prohibited from recruiting student-athletes who have already signed letters with other participating schools.
A student-athlete who has signed a National Letter of Intent may request a release from his or her contract with the school. If a student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent with one school but attends a different school, he or she will lose one full year of eligibility and must complete a full academic year at their new school before being eligible to compete.
NCAA Eligibility Center (Formerly the NCAA Clearinghouse)
The NCAA Eligibility Center is an organization that works with the NCAA to determine students’ eligibility for athletics participation in their first year of college enrollment. Students who want to participate in college sports during their first year of enrollment in college must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. The Eligibility Center staff follows NCAA bylaws and regulations in analyzing and processing a student’s high school academic records, ACT or SAT scores, and key information about amateurism participation. It is up to the NCAA Eligibility Center to determine the student’s initial eligibility.
A student-athlete who meets the academic requirements. A qualifier can practice or compete for a college or university during his first year of college, can receive an athletics scholarship during his first year of college, and can play four seasons in his sport if he maintains eligibility from year to year.
Non-qualifiers do not meet the academic requirements. Non-qualifiers cannot practice or compete for their college or university during their first year of college. They cannot receive an athletics scholarship during their first year of college, but they may receive need-based financial aid. They can play only three seasons in their sport if they maintain eligibility from year to year (to earn a fourth season they must complete at least 80 percent of their degree before beginning their fifth year of college).
A term used in the recruiting process to describe situations in which a student-athlete delays initial enrollment in a collegiate institution to the winter or spring term after the traditional academic year begins. Students who grayshirt often use the fall to take classes part time or choose not to enroll in college at all.
Any athlete who participates on an athletic team without an athletic scholarship is considered a walk-on. Walk-ons are not permitted to sign a National Letter of Intent. A “preferred walk-on” is assured a spot on the team, but the athlete is not offered a scholarship.