NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206 states that “Contact shall not be made with the prospective student-athlete at any site before the contest on the day or days of competition;” or for “the prospective student-athlete involved in competition that requires more than one day of participation (e.g., a basketball tournament) until after the prospective student-athlete’s final contest is completed and he or she is released by the appropriate institutional authority and leaves the dressing and meeting facility.” However, “Recruiting contact may be made with the relatives, guardian(s), or individual of a comparable relationship of a contactable prospective student athlete at the site of the prospective student-athlete’s practice or competition, including during the conduct of a competition.”
So what does that mean? In a nutshell, it means that when all those D3 college coaches go to all those college showcase tournaments, they are not permitted to talk to student-athletes during the days of the tournament.
Does that mean that D3 coaches DON’T want to talk with recruits at these tournaments? Absolutely not, D3 coaches would love to talk to you, but the rules are written to prevent that. I don’t want to debate the merits or shortcomings of this bylaw, but it is certainly subject to some scrutiny. Coaches and players may have traveled for hours and many hundreds of miles to get to the tourney and once they arrive, they are not permitted to speak with one another.
The caveat to this bylaw is the fact that D3 coaches are allowed to talk to parents, relatives, and/or guardians of student-athletes. So while coaches can’t speak directly to players, we can talk to their parents (even while a game is going on). Naturally, these folks are a gateway to the student-athlete, so coaches are more than happy to talk with them to get a better feel for the player they are recruiting.
Does this mean that we can’t talk to student-athletes at all at these events? Basically you can be polite and cordial and give them a greeting, but anything beyond that is technically a violation of the NCAA bylaw. So you may be standing in line at the snack bar with a D3 college coach who will only say “Hello” and that’s about it—that coach is not being rude, he or she is just following the rules.
In my emails that I send back to players that contact me asking me to watch them at tournaments, I will often remind of this rule so that they realize that I am not permitted by rule to talk with them. It’s not that I don’t want to, I can’t.
The bottom line is this— D3 coaches like nothing better than talking to student-athletes about their college programs, but we can’t do this at tournaments. Parents or relatives need to help bridge this gap at these events. When you see a college coach (from a school that is of interest) at one of your games, go over and talk to the coach to give them an update on your son’s/daughter’s college search. This will help to build a better relationship between you and that coach.