On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, the NCAA Division I Council announced that it passed legislation establishing September 1 of a prospective student-athlete’s (“PSA’s”) junior year as the start date for all softball recruiting contact.
This means that all recruiting communications between Division I softball coaches and PSAs and their families are now impermissible prior to September 1 of the Junior Year. The NFCA considers this legislation a huge win for the softball community.
One NCAA interpretation that is critical for this new rule to work is that third parties, including but not limited to travel ball and high school coaches, may not be used to circumvent NCAA recruiting rules.
Messages may not be passed through any third parties in an effort to continue recruiting communications between coaches and PSAs; this would be considered an NCAA rule violation. Consequences for NCAA rule violations can vary based on the facts and history of the parties involved. For many coaches, an NCAA rule violation can be grounds for termination.
The NCAA issued an informative Educational Column when this recruiting rule passed for lacrosse, clarifying scenarios and answering frequently asked questions. We recommend that everyone review this Q&A column below.
This new recruiting contact rule does not affect the status of “verbal commitments,” as currently the NCAA does not recognize or legislate such agreements. However, this new rule does govern all communications between any PSA and any Division I softball coach, regardless of verbal commitments or otherwise.
As Karen Weekly, NFCA Board President and Co-Head Coach at the University of Tennessee recognized, “For some PSAs, this means having committed to play at a program and then not being able to communicate with that coach for a few years. This will be challenging, but the bright line needed to be drawn and there are no exceptions.”
While change can be hard, the NFCA and the vast majority of DI softball coaches agree that this change is absolutely necessary. This is a time to celebrate a major NCAA legislative accomplishment and a better era of recruiting for the great sport of softball.