The NCAA Division I Council has passed new rules that will push the recruiting calendar back for most prospective student-athletes.
Under the new rules, approved this week in Indianapolis for all sports other than football and men's and women's basketball, Sept. 1 of a prospective student-athlete's junior year of high school is the key date. That is the date official visits can begin, instead of the first day of classes for senior year. Additionally, athletics departments can't participate in a recruit's unofficial visit until Sept. 1 of the recruit's junior year in high school, and recruiting conversations during a school's camp or clinic can't happen before Sept. 1 of the junior year.
Softball coaches, in particular, had been vocal in their support of the rules change. Nearly half of Division I softball players received a scholarship offer in or before the 10th grade, according to NCAA Research, and softball has the most student-athletes who commit to a college as ninth-graders or younger.
Softball-specific rules, which prevent phone calls between coaches and recruits until Sept. 1 of the prospective student-athlete's junior year and allow off-campus recruiting contact to begin the same date, also were passed and go into effect immediately. The changes were requested by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, and they align with similar changes that were adopted in lacrosse last year.
"Thank you to our coaches for being the driving force behind the change and to the NCAA for voting to pass this impactful legislation," National Fastpitch Coaches Association executive director Carol Bruggeman said on NFCA.org. "The real winners are the softball prospective student-athletes, who can now make informed college decisions at an age-appropriate time."
The new rule regarding official visits goes into effect Aug. 1. The new rule for unofficial visits is effective immediately. The council action isn't considered final until the board meeting closes April 25.