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Last Year’s D1 Recruiting Rule Changes Revisited

NOTE: This article is revisiting the impact that some of last year’s D1 rule changes have had on recruiting. New legislation has been passed on a brand new series of changes to the recruiting calendar and transfer rules for student-athletes. These changes will be discussed in a new article and will go into effect officially on May 1.


It’s been a year since the NCAA Division I Council made some big changes to the D1 Baseball recruiting rules in an attempt to curtail early recruiting. Those changes have had a significant impact on recruits and coaches alike. The intent behind the rule changes was to push the recruiting process back into a recruit’s junior and senior years of high school. A year later, many wonder if the new rules have been effective in solving any of the problems associated with early recruiting in (mainly the upper levels of) DI college baseball. The debate rages on and there are more recruiting-related rule changes coming in the coming weeks. Only time will tell if these rule changes work as they are intended, but the impact on recruits has been felt immediately. As we prepare for another round of rule updates, we outline the changes that took place last year and examine what they have meant for recruits.

Official Visits

Old Rule:  Official visits were allowed only once a high school recruit has started classes during his senior year.

2018 Rule Change: Official visits are allowed starting September 1st of a recruit’s junior year of high school.

What it means for recruits: This is good news for recruits who previously have been unable to make campus visits because of financial limitations. During official visits, college programs can cover transportation costs to and from the school, room and board during the trip for the recruit and his parent or guardian, and ‘reasonable entertainment expenses’ during the trip, including 3 complementary tickets to a home athletic event. Be aware that in order to take an official visit, a recruit needs to submit copies of SAT or ACT scores and transcripts to the host school. This will make planning your SAT/ACT test dates carefully. It’s also important to note that not all D1 programs have the budget to pay for official visits, so before you get too excited, make sure you know exactly what the program will be covering, if anything, for your visit.


Unofficial Visits

Old Rule: Unofficial visits (visits paid for at the expense of the recruit) were allowed to be set up with and involve the coaches of that program at any point in time.

2018 Rule Change: Unofficial visits set up by or involving the college coaches are now allowed starting September 1st of a recruit’s junior year of high school, the same time period as official visits.

What it means for recruits: If you like to plan ahead or wanted to commit before your upperclassmen years, this presents a problem. You will no longer be allowed to have on campus contact with college coaches or have them participate with your unofficial visit in any way prior to September 1st of your junior year. That means that you can no longer sit down and meet with any coaches or players while making an unofficial visit prior to the new date. This includes tours of the facilities, tickets to athletic events, or any sort of arranged meeting. What this means is that it will be incredibly difficult to make a fully informed decision on where you want to play in college prior to junior year of high school. Coaches have tried to skirt around the rules by having their facilities available to players to tour on their own, but it’s hardly the same. Since verbal commitments guarantee little in the first place, this change shouldn’t necessarily have been a game-changer or bad thing for recruits, if they are wise enough to wait for their upperclassmen years to commit for a variety of reasons anyways. This rule change impacts Power 5 conference recruits more than anything, whose recruiting timelines are generally much earlier. We STRONGLY encourage recruits to wait to take campus visits before choosing a school, which will not mean waiting until at least the start of junior year.

Free Tickets

Old Rule: Old rules allowed college coaches to leave tickets for on-campus athletic events for recruits, which was previously allowed for recruits in any grade.

2018 Rule Change: The new rules state that tickets for on-campus athletic events may not be left for recruits prior to the start of their junior year.

What it means for recruits: This one is pretty self-explanatory. No free college sporting events for you prior to the start of junior year.


Recruiting Conversations at Camps and Clinics

Old Rule: In-person recruiting conversations were allowed to take place on campus at any point.

2018 Rule Change: Recruiting conversations are not allowed to take place at camps or clinics prior to September 1 of a recruit’s junior year.

What it means for you: In theory, this is another attempt to push recruiting conversations back to the recruit’s junior year at the earliest. In practice, it’s likely that this has created little change because this rule is incredibly hard to enforce. There are certain recruiting rules that are widely broken and seldom enforced, and we would bet that this fits into that category. There is little stopping a coach from expressing interest in a recruit while working with him at a camp or clinic.

Fall Games

This rule change has not impacted recruits, but DI programs are now allowed to play 2 games against outside competition during fall ball without having the games count against the 56 allowed games during the spring. This is a good start for players and coaches who go crazy playing intrasquad games all fall. It’s also good for recruits who will have an opportunity to get out and watch D1 games during the fall and use it as an opportunity to take an objective look at how they compare to the competition at the D1 level.

Want to know more about recruiting rules? Simply type “rules” into our search bar.  As always, the best place to go for the most up-to-date rules and eligibility requirements is the NCAA website.


Thanks to Kendall Rodgers and for their coverage of the rule changes when they first broke.