SHOOTING FOR COLLEGE
BY ANGELA KRAUS
NEW CONTACT RULES FOR DIVISION I AND II
STARTING AUG. 1, 2018—AND FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE CONTACT RULES WERE INITIALLY LIBERALIZED IN 2014— DIVISION I AND II COLLEGIATE WATER POLO PROGRAMS WILL BE SUBJECT TO MAJOR NEW NCAA RECRUITING RULES.
The new rules govern interactions between rising freshmen, sophomores, and juniors and Division I and II collegiate water polo coaches that occur prior to Sept. 1 of underclassmen’s junior years, contact during junior and senior years, and unofficial and official visits.
Generally speaking, the new rules will not affect the recruiting process already underway for rising seniors—i.e. those slated to be high school seniors in the fall of 2018.
CONTACT BETWEEN PROSPECTIVE STUDENT ATHLETES AND DIVISION I & II COACHES
Phone calls, e-mail, & texts: Starting Sept. 1 of a prospective student athlete’s junior year, coaches and athletic department staff members may initiate contact with a prospective student athlete (or his or her parents or guardians) via e-mails, texts, or phone calls. Freshmen, sophomores, and rising juniors can call coaches and—if the coaches answer—they can talk. If there’s no answer, they can leave messages. But coaches may not return calls from underclass- men, even if the callers leave messages.
In-person contact: A prospective student athlete may not have face-to-face contact on or off campus with Division I or II coaches or athletic department staff before Sept. 1 of his or her junior year. Starting Sept. 1 of the prospective student athlete’s junior year, he or she may have on-campus contact with coaches or athletic department staff. Starting July 1 after a prospective student athlete completes his or her junior year, he or she may have off-campus contact with coaches or athletic department staff.
This means that if a prospective student athlete independently visits a college campus, he or
she may not meet with a coach on campus until after Sept. 1 of his or her junior year. If a prospective student athlete sees a college coach at a tournament or other off -campus event—subject to applicable “black-out” rules—he or she may not talk to that coach until after July 1 preceding his or her senior year.
TO COLLEGE CAMPUSES
A prospective student athlete may not make an unofficial visit to a college campus before Sept. 1 of his or her junior year. Until that time, a prospective student athlete may not tour a campus or its athletic facilities if arranged by a coach or athletic department staff members. In addition, the prospective student athlete cannot go on athletic-specific tours, receive complimentary admission to any athletic events or have any contact with the athletic department staff until after Sept. 1 of his or her junior year.
Note: This limitation only applies to athletic visits and tours arranged by the athletic department. Nothing prevents a prospective student athlete from visiting a college to see a sibling or friend who attends that college, or taking part in a regular admissions visit available to all prospective students, as long as the visit is arranged directly with the sibling or friend—or all arrangements and tours are made through and organized by the admissions office following procedures applicable to all prospective students.
Starting Sept. 1 of a prospective student athlete’s junior year, he or she may begin making official college visits. Official visits are by coach invitation only, and the actual time on campus cannot exceed 48 hours from arrival to departure. A school may offer some assistance with transportation costs and offer room and board for the duration of the visit. This is a major change, as only seniors had been allowed to make official visits after the first day of their senior school year. This change puts Division I & II programs on par with Division III programs, which have been allowed to host juniors on official visits for some time. But prospective student athletes are still limited to five official visits over the course of two years and allowed to make only one official visit per school. Prospective student athletes should be careful about selecting the schools they visit, and preferably, limit visits to those schools under serious consideration.
Prior to any official visits, a prospective student athlete must have registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center and provide prospective coaches with his or her eligibility number and updated high school transcripts. NCAA rules no longer require prospective student athletes to submit standardized test scores (PSAT, SAT, ACT) before undertaking an official visit, but individual schools might, so prospective student athletes should check with each coach to ascertain and comply with each school’s requirements. Obviously, if the scores are available, they should be submitted so the prospective student athlete can be a “complete candidate.”
LIVING WITH THE NEW CONTACT RULES
Prospective student athletes must be aware of, respect, and follow NCAA recruiting rules. Failure to do so not only can jeopardize a prospect’s recruiting opportunities, but also it can expose coaches and their schools to recruiting violations and NCAA penalties or sanctions.
Despite the aforementioned new contact rules, prospective student athletes should continue
to feel free to e-mail coaches to introduce themselves, express interest in coaches’ collegiate water polo programs, send periodic updates about their individual progress in water polo, complete and submit online recruiting questionnaires, and attend on-campus water polo camps at colleges or those run by coaches of programs the prospective student athletes are interested in learning more about.
Collegiate coaches also will continue to preview underclassmen at their leisure during the off season and summer tournaments, such as ODP Regional Championships, NTSC, NSC, USA Water Polo’s Junior Olympics, and a few major summer tournaments such as US Club Championships, state championships (e.g.: California State High School Championships and similar). These are good ways to “get on coaches’ radars” so coaches can respond when NCAA rules permit them to do so. And as always, prospective student athletes should continue to focus their efforts on being athletically and academically prepared. Ultimately, admissions decisions are still made by admissions committees, not water polo coaches.
QUESTIONS? Write to Angela Kraus at email@example.com. Angela Kraus is an experienced and certified college counselor providing comprehensive college counseling services to help students prepare for and ensure eligibility for graduation from high school and admission to colleges. A special focus of her practice is advising high school athletes as they pursue the athletic recruiting process, with emphasis on water polo players.