Talking To Coaches At Events

As winter 2013 finally breaks its hold over the country and soccer fields are thawing out and drying out, it is becoming tournament time again! More and more soccer teams get back outside for tournament season and college recruiters start hitting the recruiting trail to see more prospective student-athletes.

One of the questions that we frequently get here at the Hub is:

      “Can I talk to a college coach at a recruiting event?”

This question/issue creates a lot of confusion (probably more than any other) in the recruiting process at the NCAA Division III level.  The NCAA Division III Manual states in Article 13:

      “Recruiting contact may not be made with a prospective student-athlete before any athletics competition in which the prospective student-athlete is a participant during the day or days of competition….”

      “Contact shall not be made with 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.”

 This Bylaw clearly states that college coaches are not permitted to talk directly to student-athletes at recruiting tournaments.  However, when you as a parent or player are attending these events, you will see college coaches talking to student-athletes all the time.  So what is going on?

This rule does not say anything about talking to parents of student-athletes.  A college coach can talk freely with anyone in the student-athlete’s entourage at a tournament (parents, coaches, friends, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, etc.) without being in violation of any rules.  So what frequently happens is a college coach and a parent will strike up a conversation prior to the end of a game.  Once the game is over, the student-athlete naturally gravitates toward their parent and who is there but the college coach too.

Now the rule states that “contact shall not be made” but there is the exception to this that a college coach can engage in the basic pleasantries of “Hello/How are you?/Good to see you/Nice game/etc”, but they are supposed to end at that point. However, most college coaches will go beyond that and ask many more questions and extend the conversation well beyond the basic pleasantries.

Another situation is where the student-athlete (and or their parent) will come up to the coach directly and start a conversation.  Not to be rude, the college coach again can exchange pleasantries, but at that point the conversation should end; however often times it is extended further. Now some coaches will directly violate the bylaw and go right up to student-athletes and strike up conversations with them and you will see this happen all the time at tournaments!

Some issues that this bylaw does not address: First is the case where a college coach is also a club coach.  To earn extra money and/or to help with their recruiting pipeline, college coaches will also coach club teams at the high school level.  Now the rule clearly states that college coaches are not permitted to talk to student-athletes at these events, but what if they are also coaching them?

Second is the argument that many coaches make— they drove 2 or 3 or 4 hours to see student-athletes play (who also may have driven 2 0r 3 or 4 hours) and they want to make the most of the opportunity.  Moreover, it may be the only opportunity a college coach has to see a player and meet them in person due to the student-athlete being far from campus.

The bottom line is the this— the rules explicitly state that college coaches are not permitted to talk to student-athletes at tournaments.  However, this does not keep parents of student-athletes from talking to college coaches.  And despite the rules you will often see college coaches talking to student-athletes.

To get the complete list of NCAA rules for Division III, go to the NCAA website.

Questions? Comments? Drop us a line at d3recruitinghub@gmail.com.  As always, thanks for reading!

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About d3recruitinghub

Soccer coach, trainer, business analyst, & project manager.
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