How the NCAA Rules Change Impacts Soccer Players

On April 19th, the Division I Council of the NCAA approved new recruiting rules that aim to combat the pattern of early recruitment across sports. If you’re thinking, “Wait, I thought they already did that…”, you’d be correct – they passed amendments around this time last year in the same vein. This is now the second consecutive spring with more restrictive recruiting guidelines, highlighting that curbing this trend is a major priority of the organization.

These latest changes will immediately impact recruiting of Division I soccer prospects, even those that are currently in talks or already committed. All rules were effective as of May 1, 2019. Here are the most significant changes you should be aware of:

  1. Communication: Any type of communication between a player and a coach cannot take place until June 15 of the player’s sophomore year. If a player has already been communicating with coaches, this rule still applies and all communication must cease. If a player has already verbally committed, conversations with the coach are still prevented until June 15 of his/her sophomore year.

  2. Official Visits: Official visits may now start as early as September 1 of the player’s junior year. This actually moves the opportunity forward by a year!

  3. Recruiting Conversations: These conversations – including but not limited to discussions of financial aid, athletic scholarships, and verbal commitments – cannot begin before August 1 of a player’s junior year.

Reactions from college coaches we’ve spoken with have varied from optimistic and grateful for the new guidelines to dubious that the trend of early outreach and commitment would be curtailed by these rules. Underscoring this, we saw a flurry of communications on the evening of April 30th as coaches sought to assure prospective recruits of their interest – and even finalize some verbal commitments that were on the table – before having to enter radio silence on May 1st.

Time will tell how effective these amendments will be at curtailing recruitment of younger athletes, but based on the NCAA’s decision to enact laws limiting recruiting two years in a row, it appear this will continue to be a top priority of the organization for the foreseeable future.

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Chris Bart-Williams is the founder and owner of CBW Soccer Elite. After an extensive career in the English Premier League, Chris now uses his vast soccer knowledge to assist families throughout the college recruiting process and prepare players for the mental and physical challenges of collegiate soccer. You can reach Chris at

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