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        Beyond The Ball — football recruiting

        Recruiting Checklist

        Recruiting Checklist

        Original Information From NCSA.com

        Managing your recruiting and staying on top of the college athletic recruiting process can be stressful. Not only do athletes have to stay mindful of their recruiting season, they also have to take steps to ensure they’re being proactive in the offseason. 

        Recruiting checklists for the college bound student athlete—complete with important dates and helpful tips—so you know exactly what to do every step of the way during each season.  Whether you’re gearing up for a new athletic recruiting season or taking time to make strides in the offseason, follow these steps to ensure you find the best athletic, academic, social and financial college fit.

        Insider Tip: Check out NCSA’s fall recruiting checklists, winter recruiting checklists and spring recruiting checklists to keep track of your to-dos during each season. Then, if you’re interested in competing at the NCAA D1 or D2 level, review our NCAA eligibility center checklist to ensure you’re maintaining your academic eligibility and amateurism status.


        Going on unofficial and official college visits

        Visiting colleges is a very important part of the recruiting process. Do you like the feel of the campus? How’s the climate? Can you see yourself living here for four years? As a student-athlete, you may go on both official and unofficial college visits, although official visits are becoming less and less common. You can (and should) start taking unofficial visits as soon as possible. Official visits, however, cannot occur until your senior year. There are other strict rules for both types of visit, so make sure you’re following the proper steps for setting each up. Learn more about official and unofficial visits


        Updating your target list of schools

        As you move through the recruiting process, the list of 50-plus schools you started with will naturally start to dwindle. It will be fairly obvious when a coach isn’t interested in recruiting you, and you can remove that school from your list within your online recruiting profile. Coaches who are interested will be sending personalized letters, emails, calling you at home, coming to see you play specifically and inviting you on an official visit. Just receiving a letter from the admissions office, a questionnaire from the coach if or a coach watches you play in a game doesn’t mean you’re being recruited. Realizing what schools are truly considering you will allow you to focus your time and effort on building relationships with those coaches. 


        Stay on top of application deadlines and processes

        The last thing you want to think about when you’re trying to get recruited is probably deadlines and paperwork, but if you don’t pay attention to the important dates, you’ll most likely lose your chance to compete in college. There are seven main parts to the application process to pay attention to:

        1. Registering for and taking the ACT and SAT
        2. Registering with the NCAA Eligibility Center (for DI and DII) and/or the NAIA Eligibility Center
        3. Filling out and sending in college applications
        4. Submitting your FAFSA paperwork
        5. Requesting your final amateurism certification 
        6. Sending your final transcripts and proof of graduation to the Eligibility Center(s)
        7. Signing the acceptance letter

        Compare and negotiation your athletic scholarship offers

        Athletic scholarship amounts differ greatly—from division to division, sport to sport and school to school. While most student-athletes strive for a full-ride scholarship, the reality is that only 1 percent actually receive one, and they’re usually only offered to those who play head count sports (DI basketball and DI-A football for men; DI basketball, tennis, volleyball and gymnastics for women). The majority of student-athletes who are offered scholarships will be offered a percentage of the total cost, so it’s important to compare each package and—when possible—use them to find your best financial aid package at your top school.

        Unofficial Visits - Recruiting

        Unofficial Visits - Recruiting

        Unofficial visits will be a little different based on your age, desired division level and recruiting journey

        There's a lot to consider before you start planning your unofficial visits. Due to the new NCAA recruiting rule changes (effective May 1, 2019), how you plan your unofficial visits will be different depending on your goals for the visit, your age and the division level of the school. If you’re visiting DII, DIII and NAIA schools, you won’t be impacted by the NCAA recruiting rule changes—they are only applicable for DI schools. This means that, no matter your age, you can arrange the unofficial visit with the athletic department or coach, and you can speak with the coach while you’re on campus.

        If you’re interested in visiting DI schools, you can’t arrange the visit with the athletic department—or talk about recruiting with the coach while you’re there—until August 1 of your junior year of high school.

        If you’re an upperclassman visiting D1 schools, or a recruit visiting schools at the other division levels, you can use your unofficial visit as a chance to advance your recruiting with the coach at that school. To do so, you need to make sure that the schools you’re visiting offer real recruiting opportunities. Ask yourself each of the following questions before you set up the visit:

        • Have you already been communicating with the coach?
        • Has the coach approached you or your high school/club coach about setting up an unofficial visit?
        • Has the coach reviewed your academic information?
        • Has the coach seen your highlight video?
        • Have you reviewed the school’s information and determined that it might be the right fit for you?

        If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you’re in a great position. Most importantly, you want to ensure that you have been in communication with the college coach. You don’t want to waste your time visiting a school that may not be a realistic recruiting opportunity for you. To set up your visit, call the coach and let them know you’re interested in seeing the campus. Ask them what dates they would be available to meet you and your family. Some recruits lean heavily on their high school or club coach to help them set up unofficial visits with college coaches.

        If you’re an underclassman interested in D1 schools, there are a few different routes you can go. First, you can take unofficial visits to those D1 schools as if you were a regular student. Tour the library and the campus at large. Check out the town. Ask questions, take notes and determine what you like about the campus. This can help you better understand what you’re looking for in a school, so you can refine your target list. Don’t forget to check out some DII, DIII and NAIA schools—you never know what your best fit will be until you explore the different options available!

        Insider Tip: There are a few different ways unofficial visits can “pay for themselves.” First, schedule back-to-back visits with schools that are located close to each other. Second, set up visits with schools in cities you’re already visiting. For example, if you have a tournament in the Kansas City area, consider visiting the University of Kansas in Lawrence if you have been in communication with that coach.

        What happens on an unofficial visit

        While every school is a little bit different, most coaches will take some time to speak with you and your parents/guardians about the school and their athletic program. Come prepared with questions for the coach and use this opportunity to get them answered. Then, the coach may take you on a tour of the athletic facilities. The rest of the time will be up to you to arrange a tour of the campus and possibly meet with an academic adviser. You and your family may also be invited to attend a home sporting event.

        While unofficial visits are a great way to get to know a coach and the athletic program better, they also give you a chance to really experience the college campus. Can you picture yourself living there for four years? Here are a few key ways to familiarize yourself with the college campus during your visit:

        • Check out the library and sit in on a class.
        • Visit the different housing options, both on and off campus.
        • Meet your future training staff.
        • Eat in the school cafeteria or food court.
        • Set up a meeting with an academic adviser.
        • Hang out on the campus grounds.

        As you’re checking each of these spots off your list, take a couple minutes to write down your thoughts. It might seem trivial at the moment, but as you visit schools throughout the year, they can all start to blend to together. You can always refer back to your notes later on when you’re working on narrowing down your target list of schools.

        What are the NCAA unofficial visit rules?

        According to the NCAA unofficial visit rules, you are allowed to stay on campus with an enrolled student, but there are some specific rules the institution must follow based on its division level. For DI and DII schools, recruits can stay in an enrolled student’s dorm; however, the athlete must pay the regular institutional rate for that lodging. DIII recruits can stay with currently enrolled students in their dorm if that housing option is available to all students who visit the school, athletes and non-athletes alike. DIII schools can also pay for a student-athlete’s housing during an unofficial visit if they provide housing for every prospective student. Your parents/guardians will still need to find their own accommodations.

        Questions to ask the coach during your unofficial visit

        When you go on your unofficial visit, one of your top priorities should be to ask the coach any questions you have about the school and the program. Before you go, write down your questions and keep adding to the list throughout your visit. When it’s time to talk to the coach, you’ll have your list ready to go, rather than trying to come up with questions on the spot. Here some examples of questions you might want to ask:

        • What are the athletic and academic requirements? You’re probably well-versed in eligibility requirements—if not, read more about NCAA eligibility requirements. But each coach will have slightly different criteria that they look for in their athletes.
        • What kind of academic support does the athletic program offer? Being a successful student is the most important part of your college career. Make sure that you’ll be set up with the tools you need.
        • What commitments do you expect from athletes in the off-season or during holidays? If going home over the holidays and for summer break is important to you, then you need to know what commitment level is expected during these times.
        • What is your coaching and training style? By this point, you’ve probably played for a few different coaches with various coaching styles. And you probably know what kind of approach works best for you. Remember: The coach has to want you on their team, but you also can choose a team that best fits what you’re looking for.
        • Will I be able to meet any current athletes? It’s important to see the team dynamics, if possible. Do they joke around or are they more serious? Do they hang out on the weekend or do they have separate friend groups?
        • What are the training facilities like? To stay healthy and in shape throughout your tenure as a college athlete, you’ll need access to the right facilities and people.
        • What are you looking for in a recruit? This is your opportunity to find out what spots the coach is trying to fill and ultimately who they want on their team to fill these positions.
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        What to wear on an unofficial visit

        A lot of recruits ask us what to wear, and our best piece of advice is to err on the side of overdressing, rather than underdressing. You want to look neat and clean throughout your entire trip. For men, bring a collared shirt with nice jeans or khakis. For women, skirt, dress, nice slacks or jeans are acceptable. Avoid wearing sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats, flip flops and ripped jeans.

        Bring athletic clothes and shoes in case you get invited to work out with the team. For all D1 sports—minus men’s basketball—athletes are not allowed to try out for a team during a visit; however, the team captain can organize a team workout, which recruits can join if the coach is not present. Similarly, at DIII schools, recruits can join in an unofficial team workout. For Division I men’s basketball and all DII sports, recruits are able to take part in tryouts during visits.

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        After your unofficial visit: The coach follow-up

        When you get home, write the coach a “thank you” note. Tell the coach what you liked about the school and thank them for their time. You can also include a brief list of where you’ll be playing next so they can watch you in person. Not only does this show the coach that you are a thoughtful, courteous athlete, but it will keep you top-of-mind as the coach works on creating their roster.

        NCAA Eligibility Requirements

        NCAA Eligibility Requirements

        NCAA academic requirements

        For 75 percent of college student-athletes, they will have no issue meeting the academic minimums laid out by the NCAA. That said, just because you are a good student doesn’t mean you can assume you will meet the academic eligibility rules. Every year, student-athletes with 3.5+ GPAs and honors courses are declared academically ineligible due to not meeting one of the following NCAA eligibility requirements.

        • Core Course Requirement – Each high school has a list of approved NCAA Core Courses. You are required to pass 16 core courses throughout high school. While there is a slight variation in the requirements for DI and DII schools, if you meet the DI core course requirements, you will also be eligible at the DII level. 
        • Core Course GPA – The NCAA does not use your entire high school transcript for determining your GPA. They are only concerned with your GPA in your core courses. The NCAA provides a core course worksheet, but it also likely require a meeting with your high school counselor. Check out more information on how to determine your core course GPA.
        • NCAA Sliding Scale – The NCAA uses a combination of your GPA, SAT or ACT test scores in determining your eligibility. It is impossible to say what GPA or SAT/ACT scores you will need without knowing the other. Learn more about the sliding scale to get a sense for what GPA and test scores you will need.
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        NCAA amateurism requirements

        The cornerstone of the amateurism rules is that student-athletes are not allowed to have received prize money (beyond the reimbursement for participation); they can’t have signed a contract with or receive benefits from an agent; they can’t receive money for promotion of products or services; and they are not allowed to make money by use of their athletic ability or fame. Additionally, student-athletes are prohibited from delaying their full-time collegiate enrollment to compete in organized sports.

        Insider Tip: The NCAA does not answer questions about what you can and can’t do regarding amateurism. If you have questions about maintaining your amateurism status, you can get more information on our amateurism rules page.

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        Division I eligibility requirements

        • Graduate high school
        • Earn a core course GPA of 2.3 or higher
        •  Complete 16 core courses
          • 4 years of English
          • 3 years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
          • 2 years of natural/physical science
            • 1 year must be lab science if your school offers it
          • 1 additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
          • 2 years of social science
          • 4 additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy
        • You must complete 10 of the core courses by the end of your junior year (before the start of your seventh semester). Seven of the 10 core courses need to be in English, math or natural/physical science. The grades in these seven courses will be “locked in,” meaning you will not be allowed to retake them to improve your grades.
        • Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching your core-course GPA on the Division I sliding scale.
        • Receive final certification on your amateurism status via the NCAA Eligibility Center
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        Division II eligibility requirements

        If you are enrolling BEFORE August 1, 2018 (Class of 2017)

        • Graduate high school
        • Earn a core course GPA of 2.0 of higher
        •  Complete 16 core courses
          • 3 years of English
          • 2 years of math (algebra 1 or higher)
          •  2 years of Natural/physical science
            • 1 year must be lab science if your school offers it
          • 3 additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
          • 2 years of social science
          • 4 additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy
        • Earn a SAT combined score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68
        • Receive final certification on your amateurism status via the eligibility center

        If you are enrolling AFTER August 1, 2018 (Class of 2018 and later)

        • Graduate high school
        • Earn a core course GPA of 2.2 of higher
        •  Complete 16 core courses
          • 3 years of English
          • 2 years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
          •  2 years of natural/physical science
            • 1 year must be lab science if your school offers it
          • 3 additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
          • 2 years of social science
          • 4 additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy
        • Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching your core-course GPA on the Division II sliding scale.
        • Receive final certification on your amateurism status via the NCAA Eligibility Center
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        Division III eligibility requirements

        Division III schools are responsible for setting their own academic eligibility rules. If you are going to be competing for a DIII institution, or if you are unsure what division level you’ll be competing at, you can start with a free NCAA Profile page. If you do decide to pursue a DI or DII program, you can always transition to a Certification Account later.

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        Academic status: What your academic status with the NCAA means

        The NCAA will only review an athlete’s eligibility status if their status has been requested by a DI or DII college. This process will begin once you graduate high school, complete a minimum of 16 core courses—with a minimum 2.3 GPA average in these courses—and earn a qualifying ACT or SAT test score. You also need to request your final amateurism certification from the NCAA Eligibility Center. Once the NCAA reviews your account, they will assign you an “Academic Status.” Here are the various statuses you could receive and what they mean:

        • Final Qualifier: You meet all of the academic requirements and can receive an athletic scholarship your first year.
        • Early Academic Qualifier: This status is based on your academic record after six semesters of high school. It means you are eligible to receive an athletic scholarship and practice/compete with your team during your first year of full-time college enrollment. Make sure to meet with your college’s compliance office to confirm this status.
        • Final Nonqualifier: You do not meet the academic requirements and are not eligible to compete or practice at the college requesting your final status. You will not be eligible to receive an athletic scholarship.
        • Final Partial Qualifier: This is a status for only DII schools. Athletes with this status can receive an athletic scholarship and practice with the team, but you are not eligible to compete your first year in college.
        • Under Review: The NCAA Eligibility Center is reviewing a unique academic situation related to your case.
        • Academic Redshirt: This means you will be eligible to receive an athletic scholarship and practice but will not be allowed to compete during your first year in school. Only athletes enrolling in a Division I school after August 1, 2016, are eligible for this status.
        • Automatic Waiver Approved: This indicates that you are immediately eligible to receive an athletic scholarship, and practice/compete with your team during your first year as a full-time enrollee. Contact your college’s compliance department for more details.
        • HS Decision Pending: If your high school courses are not NCAA Approved, the NCAA will likely need to make a more in-depth review of your high school classes.
        • In Process: The NCAA Eligibility Center is reviewing your case. Usually, cases remain in process for no more than two business days.
        • Secondary Review: On rare occasions, the NCAA will make a secondary review of your status. This will only happen with the help your college compliance office.
        • Waiver Approved: From time to time, your colleges compliance office will file for a waiver if they think you will meet one of the cases for academic waivers. This status means that waiver has been approved.
        • Waiver Denied: If your compliance office has filed for a waiver and it is denied, you will receive this status. This likely means you will not be eligible for a scholarship or to compete.
        • Waiver Partially Approved (athletics aid only): If your compliance office has filed for a waiver on your behalf, it might be partially approved. This would mean you are eligible to receive an athletic scholarship but are not eligible to practice or play your first year in college.
        • Waiver Partially Approved (aid and practice): If your compliance office has filed for a waiver on your behalf, this status would mean you are eligible to receive an athletic scholarship and practice, but you will not be eligible to compete your first year in college.