Will early recruiting ever stop? The NCAA Division I Council just made some monumental approvals to new softball recruiting calendar, rules and guidelines, which are the first, of many steps, in that direction. In fact, 80% of Division I softball coaches agree to these rule proposals.
As College Scouts, we have to wear many hats and be comfortable having many “irons in the fire.” Among all of the duties of an NSR College Scout, staying up to date on NCAA rules is a significant one of those “hats” or duties. Not only so we can adequately advise our NSR prospects, but also so we can ensure the college coaches we talk with on a daily basis, are being protected as well.
Over the last year, the NCAA has made changes to the new Division I softball recruiting calendar. Additionally, they’ve made a few modifications to some of the current recruiting rules.
The New Softball Recruiting Calendar Rules
The changes made to the Division I softball recruiting calendar are as follows:
- EVALUATION DAYS: institutions are no longer limited to a maximum of 50 evaluation days.
- NONINSTITUTIONAL CAMPS: An institution’s coach or staff member with responsibilities specific to softball may be employed (either on a salaried or volunteer basis) in a non-institutional, privately owned camp or clinic ONLY during the recruiting calendar periods when evaluation at non-scholastic practice or competition activities are permitted (i.e., during the summer contact period and the six weekends prior to Thanksgiving).
The Breakdown of the Evaluation Periods
What frustrates coaches with the 50 recruiting days was the limits it puts on coaching staffs.
For example, if two coaches from a coaching staff, were recruiting on the same day that used two of their 50 recruiting days. But now that will not be the case. Coaches will no longer have a set amount of days to evaluate.
With the new recruiting calendar coaches can recruit during an evaluation period, just at a different capacity. Since one evaluation period only allows coaches to recruit at an institutional event.
Ultimately, giving all DI coaches the same opportunities to recruit within their budgets. This rule is the biggest change to the calendar.
Previously, coaches could use their recruiting days, outside of a dead or quiet period, with no problem. Now, there’s a limit on where and of course when recruiting can happen.
There is a limitation evaluating or recruiting at non-scholastic events. In the fall coaches only have six, Saturday and Sunday, weekends to recruit athletes openly. During these days coaches can recruit anywhere, at a non-scholastic event. These days are in purple, in the calendar above.
From January 2 – May 28, 2018, evaluations at non-scholastic practices or competitions will no longer happen. In addition to that, the dead periods surrounding the NLI signing period, the NFCA National Convention and the Women’s College World Series will still be in effect.
The change in the evaluation period is because the council hopes to alleviate the pressure softball players have to compete year round. Before, softball players felt like they needed to be at every exposure tournament possible.
Explanation of the Noninstitutional Camp Changes
The other crucial change to the softball recruiting calendar is the limits on noninstitutional camps.
Currently, Division I softball coaches can work and hold camps outside of their institution with little to no problem. But with the new changes coaches can only work a noninstitutional camp during the purple evaluation periods on the calendar. Previously, college coaches would typically work privately owned camps over summer and winter breaks. Once August 1st comes around, that will not be the case, unless a camp falls during an evaluation period.
This new rule change doesn’t mean noninstitutional camps can’t or won’t happen during non-evaluation periods. It means DI coaches and staff will not be able to work at camps that fall in that time frame. They can still work private camps, if they fall within the summer period or the six weekends in the fall.
Coaches are permitted to be employed at any institutional camp help outside of a dead period.
The Reason for the Recruiting Changes?
To make life easier and fair for college coaches, athletes and parents.
All of these changes are because the NCAA Division I Council wants to reduce the pressures to play year round. With the current recruiting calendar, athletes and coaches, spend a ton of money and time for every showcase and tournament. Ultimately causing athletes to burnout or worse, injured.
NSR’s Director of Softball Scouting, Robby Wilson, explains, “In recent conversations with many DI softball coaches about all of the rule changes and the new softball recruiting calendar, it will be a good thing in the long run. The intent here was to curtail the amount of time those college coaches spent on the road. As well as preventing players from having to play so much.”
Wilson says the D1 softball coaches concluded there was:
- Too much pressure on the athlete to play year round.
- Too many overuse injuries as well as burnout in freshman coming into their program.
- Help the recovery of the “multi-sport” athlete of which has decreased severely over the years.
- The financial commitment requirement was too much for parents year round.
- Increasing time commitment and financial implications of a college coach to recruit year round.
- Need for more time on campus with their institutional team.
Wilson continues to say “there’s a much bigger picture here than what meets the eye in that getting 80% of NCAA DI college softball coaches on board to vote for these changes, means that 80% (or more) are likely thinking in the same direction. And therefore, it’s highly likely we are soon in the coming years to see the elimination of unofficial visits prior to junior year as well as the official visits to be permissible for both juniors AND seniors. I’m speculating on that one, but a lot of the coaches I’ve spoken with agree.”
What Does That Mean For Prospective Student-Athletes?
With this new recruiting calendar you will begin to see fewer showcases and showcase camps during the fall, as well as the December – January time frames. In return, you’ll begin to see more camps at coach’s institution during permissible times, throughout the year.
Since DI coaches are only able to scout on Saturday and Sunday showcases this fall, you will see a decrease in the number of school days missed as showcases return to the standard two, possibly three-day showcase (with pool play on Friday nights).
At the end of the day, if you don’t know the NCAA rules, understanding your kid’s recruiting process and why she isn’t getting to the next level of her process, can be both daunting and disheartening.
It’s important to know why a college coach, your daughter has sent an email to 27 times, hasn’t replied. One way you can do this is by understanding what the college softball coach can or can’t do. Along with when he or she can or can’t do it something, in regards to recruiting.