Check out some important changes to the college athletic recruiting process including changes to financial aid, official visits, NCAA eligibility standards and more…

 

FINANCIAL AID CHANGES

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a financial aid program available for anyone to fill out and you need to do it if you are applying for financial aid at any school that receives federal grant money. Please note, there are roughly 280 private schools that are also members of the CSS (College Scholarship Service). That is a completely different form that needs to be filled out if you are applying for aid at one of those schools. See CSS Profile

Beginning in the fall of 2016, FAFSA will be available starting on October 1st. In the past, FAFSA was not available until January 1st. Now your next question is, how do we apply for financial aid when we might not know how much money we have earned in a year and haven’t filed our taxes yet? On the FAFSA form you make an estimation and then in the spring you will be prompted to submit your final tax data to FAFSA which is what you would have to do if you filled it out in January anyway. Please note: FAFSA is integrated with the IRS and they will match up your tax information with what you put on your FAFSA forms, so please be honest and accurate or else your child may have to major in criminal justice!

For the next two years, FAFSA aid will be based on tax year 2015 income for 2 years, 2016-17 and 2017-18. This is known as the prior prior phenomena.

Asset protection allowance is being reduced to $6,300 from $28,200 in fiscal year 2016. Translated in English, this is bad for you. It means if you had $100,000 in taxable assets, FAFSA previously forgave $28,200 of that as not calculated towards the FAFSA application and only looked at $71,900. Now that figure will be much higher and you may have to contribute more money to your child’s education.

OFFICIAL VISITS CHANGES

Official visits are paid recruiting visits that coaches extend to high school athletes. Visits can begin the first day of your senior year. Before an official visit is made, the college must receive the following: A valid score from a PSAT, SAT, PLAN or ACT test. A high school transcript. Verification that you have registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Official visits to NCAA D1 and NCAA D2 schools used to be limited to 5 total visits. Not 5 per division, but 5 total between the 2 divisions. Some time ago the NCAA changed this. The limit of 5 paid official visits still applies to NCAA D1 colleges, but there is now no limit as to how many you can take at NCAA D2 colleges. There has been no change to D3 official visits, those too are still unlimited (no more than one per school), although you will find fewer official visit offers for D3 schools due to budgets. If you are being offered official visits to D1 colleges, choose wisely as 5 will go pretty fast. If there are colleges that are near your home, you could consider visiting those schools on your own dime and saving the official visits to colleges that you may have to fly to. You will also have to decide how a coach will perceive that choice!

IVY LEAGUE CHANGES

(Updated on 9/21/2016) The Ivy League is proposing some new recruiting rules for the NCAA to potentially vote on. The proposed are as follows: Prohibit verbal offers from coaches to potential recruits until Sept. 1 of the student’s junior year of high school. Prohibit players initiating or receiving phone calls with and from college coaches, and ban any recruiting conversations at camps or clinics until that date.

ELIGIBILITY STANDARDS CHANGED 2.3 GPA for NCAA D1 RECRUITS

If you are enrolling in college as an NCAA D1 athlete, there is a new academic standard for which the NCAA Eligibility Center will be judging you. Starting August 1, 2016, in addition to your 16 core courses you must complete in high school, you now need at least a 2.3 GPA (up from 2.0) to be eligible as an NCAA D1 athlete.

If you can’t make a 2.3 GPA, then you need at least a 2.0 GPA to be considered an “Academic Redshirt.” What’s that mean? It means, you can receive athletic aid and can practice with the team but may not compete in games during your first year.

Please Note: the 2.3 GPA requirement will be applied for high school athletes looking to play NCAA D2 athletics in 2018

TEXT MESSAGING AND ELECTRONIC CORRESPONDENCE

Text messaging is something we all love (well maybe not everyone) and was being used very heavily by college coaches a few years ago. But like all good things, there were problems. Text messaging got out of control and recruits began to receive hundreds of text messages a week from college coaches, along with a huge phone bill if they didn’t have an unlimited text messaging plan. It was only a matter of time before the NCAA stepped in. In 2007 the NCAA banned text messaging from college coaches to recruits. Many coaches said they hated text messaging but had to do it because every other coach was doing it. But technology always wins out and texting and instant messaging is now allowed again under the following parameters.

DIVISION 1

Men’s basketball: Electronic correspondence can begin June 15th after sophomore year.

Women’s basketball: Electronic correspondence can begin September 1st of junior year.

Football: In April of 2016, the NCAA deregulated text messaging for football. Previously it was not allowed until you provided the school with a written commitment. Now the rules are the same as men’s basketball which is June 15th after your sophomore year.

All Other sports: Electronic correspondence can begin September 1st of junior year.

Swimming & Diving, Cross Country, Track & Field: Only email and faxes allowed until you provide a written commitment to the NCAA school

Please Note: The NCAA has not defined what a “written commitment” is or how it’s formatted. You will have to ask the coach.

DIVISION 2 & 3

Texting is also allowed at the D2 level on/after June 15th of a prospects sophomore year.

The NCAA D3 council voted in January of 2012 on text messaging and it is now allowed at the D3 level for every sport.

TWITTER CHANGES

NCAA coaches can now like and share posts on Twitter by high school recruits who have not signed a Letter of Intent. (Goes into effect August of 2016)

NCAA BASKETBALL CHANGES

In years past, if an NCAA basketball player declared for the draft, they were instantly ineligible to compete at their college after that. If players were not drafted their choices were few and most went overseas to play in Europe. A new rule allows players to declare for the draft and attend NBA combines. If the feedback they get on their draft potential is subpar, the athlete can pull themselves from the draft and continue their college basketball career.

SATELLITE CAMP CHANGES

UPDATE: So on April 28th 2016, the NCAA came to their senses and realized allowing colleges to offer satellite camps in other parts of the country might actually allow high school athletes to display their skills to colleges that are not near their home. So the rule they put in place April 8th to ban satellite camps has been rescinded. They are now allowed. 

UPDATE: On 10/5/2016 the NCAA counsel proposed limiting satellite camps to no more than 10 days off of campus.

Read: Making the summer college camp circuit work for your recruiting process

You have probably by now caught wind of “camp gate” in which Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh tried to create more recruiting opportunities for kids who lives thousands of miles away from colleges that play football and have scholarships to offer. Harbaugh was attempting to run a series of camps in Florida, Mississippi, and Texas, but the college coaches who get the majority of their recruits from those states didn’t want Michigan setting up shop in their own backyard and potentially recruiting players away from colleges in those states. The losers in all of this? High School players. People who say camps just exist to make money, either don’t understand how recruiting works or aren’t qualified to play at the colleges whose camps they attended. Or both! Summer athletic camps allow college coaches to spend a great deal of time evaluating high school athletes over a several day period. They learn about that athlete as a player and a person. They learn their work ethic, desire, personality and much more. The same goes for the player, as they learn about the coach and coaching staff and get to test their abilities against other prospects. There is only a limited amount of NCAA football scholarships. What Harbaugh is attempting to do was open up more opportunities for more players. Alabama and LSU can only offer 25 football scholarships a year out of a pool of thousands of potentially qualified players. Maybe Jim Habaugh has athletic scholarships available for those kids but he needs a way to scout them and many of those kids simply cannot afford to fly to a camp in Michigan for 3 days.

NAIA SCHOLARHSIP INFO HAS EXPANDED

NAIA rules on financial aid are straightforward. Each school determines how much aid it awards to an individual student-athlete. Under no conditions may anyone else provide direct financial assistance to any student-athlete. Scholarships, grants-in-aid or student loans are controlled by each institution through the same committee that handles all student loans and scholarships. Financial aid to student-athletes is limited to the actual cost of: Tuition & Mandatory fees, books and supplies required for courses in which the student-athlete is enrolled & Room and board based on the official room and board allowance listed in the institution’s catalog.

Each sport has an overall limit on the amount of financial aid it can award as full or partial grants to students in that sport. For example, the overall limit in baseball is 12. Baseball scholarships can be awarded to any number of students (for example, 1 full scholarship, 10 half awards and 24 quarter awards) as long as the combined total does not exceed 12. Limits on the total amount of aid that can be given to varsity athletes in each sport:

Baseball 12

Golf 5

Tennis 5

Basketball (Division I) 11

Soccer12

Track & Field 12

Basketball (Division II) 6

Softball 10

Wrestling 8

Cross Country 5

Swimming & Diving 8

Volleyball 8

Football 24

Academically gifted students can be exempted from these limits if they meet grade or test score criteria established by the NAIA.

CHANGES BEING CONSIDERED

NCAA Division 2 is considering the following changes

1 – Count only athletics aid toward individual and team equivalency limits. What’s that mean you ask? In order to limit the amount of non-athletic financial aid a given college gives an athlete, the NCAA developed the equivalency limit. It means, if an athlete who doesn’t meet certain academic qualifications receives financial aid from the college, it is counted towards the scholarship limit for a team. Why does this exist? Well, let’s take D2 baseball as an example. An NCAA D2 baseball program is allowed to offer 9 athletic scholarships per team. Imagine a scenario where those scholarships are all used up but, in an attempt to build a super team, that school gives financial aid to all the additional players. Equivalency stops this, because the financial aid you give those additional players counts against the scholarship limit, so the only way you can go over 9 (or the equivalent of 9 scholarships) is to recruit high school athletes who qualify academically to not count towards equivalency. In the past, it was a 3.5 GPA and a 1200 SAT (the old score and test)

If that same D2 baseball program only has 5 athletic scholarships to offer, they can dole out additional financial aid to high school recruits which can equal the max amount of athletic scholarships allowed per NCAA rules (or in this example 9). Please note: NCAA D1 is also considering this proposal.

2 – Eliminate term by term financial aid awards. Apparently 25% of financial aid awards at NCAA D2 schools are not for a full year.

3 – Permit increases in athletically related financial aid at any time and for any reason.

POTENTIAL NCAA LACROSSE CHANGES

Women’s Division 1 lacrosse has proposed a change to recruiting. The proposal is to limit any recruiting contact between recruits and college coaches prior to September 1st of a recruit’s junior year. Currently D1 women’s lacrosse coaches cannot contact recruits prior to September 1st of their junior year but there are no regulations for when a recruit can contact a college coach if they (the recruit) initiates the contact. This new rule would eliminate a recruit’s ability to reach out to college coaches on their own prior to September 1st of junior year. It’s an attempt by college coaches to limit the early offers that are being made to recruits in 8th or 9th grade.

POTENTIAL D3 BASEBALL CHANGES

The NCAA is considering allowing Division 3 baseball colleges to create a two-tiered schedule where they could play a portion of their games in the fall and the rest of the spring. Many teams are scrambling to get their season in in colder climates due to poor weather.

D3 FOOTBALL CHANGES

The NCAA has now limited two-a-day football practices. The new rule allows for multiple practices in a day, but the second practice can only be a walk-through after a minimum of a 3 hour break after a contact practice has taken place.

NAIA Eligibility Changes

The NAIA has modified its eligibility standards. Previously, the requirements for eligibility were any two of the following 3: GPA of 2.0 or above based on 4.0 scale, graduate in the top half of your class in high school, and achieve an ACT score of 18 or an SAT score of 860. The new SAT requirement is a score of 940 (evidenced based reading and writing + math)