Recruiting is an exciting time for a player who’s considering playing college hockey. But it can also be a confusing time, especially if you’re not familiar with how the process works or even where to begin. There are NCAA rules to know, colleges and universities to research, college coaches to speak with, and hopefully – a decision to commit to a great school and hockey program you feel comfortable going to.
In this section, we examine what recruiting is like at the NCAA DI and DIII levels, outline some of the more important NCAA recruiting rules, and identify many of the nuances players and their parents should become familiar with. When all is said and done, you’ll be armed with a quite a bit of knowledge to get you going and understanding all about NCAA Recruiting.
The ‘It’s A Process’ page is a great first step to familiarizing yourself with just what exactly the recruiting process is, what it looks like, and how long it can take. Below we’ll dive into what recruiting looks like for DI and DIII coaches, some of the more important recruiting rules.
Division I Recruiting
Recruiting at the DI level is a big deal. It’s a big deal to college coaches because it’s the lifeblood of the program. There’s a saying—RDOD—Recruit Daily Or Die. It’s also a big deal for prospective players. The chance to attend and play the sport they love at their dream school and potentially have that education paid for with an athletic scholarship, can be a dream come true.
All teams at the DI level have three full-time coaches, one Head Coach and two Assistant Coaches whose primary role, other than coaching their team and various administrative duties, is to engage in recruiting activities. Some programs spread out the recruiting duties evenly among the coaching staff. Others leave the brunt of the recruiting workload to the Assistant Coaches, or in some cases just one assistant handles most of the evaluating and communication with players and club/HS coaches. Do a poor job recruiting, and coaches don’t stick around all too long. Do a great job, and you can bet the program will flourish.
It’s like a 3-person scouting department. Coaches watch players play live and on video, make lists of who they like, collect academic information, conduct research on what type of person these players are, etc. Most of the work is watching players play live and in-person, often called ‘the eye test’. Schools spend thousands of dollars with their recruiting budgets in travel to get around the globe in search of the best players. Off to Hamilton, Ontario one weekend, the Minneapolis the next, and Stockholm after that. Coaches go where they players are and spend a lot of hotel nights on the road away from their teams and families. It’s not uncommon for a coach who does most of the recruiting, to miss quite a few of their own games during the season–as many as half or more. But that’s how important recruiting is.
Important DI Recruiting Rules to Know
- DI coaches can not be in regular communication with recruits until June 15 after the players grade 10 year in High School.
- DI coaches may make verbal offers to players beginning June 15 after the players’ grade 10 year in High School.
- DI coaches may not have face-to-face contact/interaction with recruits on or off their campus until August 1 of the players grade 10 year. This does not apply to coaches who are working hockey camp/clinic or showcase type events… coaches can have face-to-face interactions and regular communication during these events as long as no recruiting conversations take place.
- Coaches may email recruiting questionnaires to recruits at any time
- Recruits/family members may reach out to DI coaches whenever they want via email, phone, text, social media. Just be aware of the June 15 communication date and the fact coaches my not reply until then. Coaches are allowed a 1-time communication exception where they can reply to any written form of communication received to explain the NCAA rules of communication but may not include any language that indicates their interest in recruiting the player.
- Recruits are allowed an unlimited number ‘unofficial’ visits but can only take 5 ‘official’ visits to 5 separate institutions. Unofficial visits are funded by the recruit/family on their own dime where they pay for their own travel expenses. Official visits are offered by the coaching staff to the player and the school will pay for the visit–travel to/from, meals, hotel, ground transportation, entertainment, etc.
- From the Monday prior to the American Hockey Coaches Association convention, usually around April 20th each year, until June 1, NCAA DI coaches (women’s hockey only) have a mandated NCAA Quiet Period in effect. No off-campus recruiting activities are allowed… no travel to watch players play in-person off of their campus, no face-to-face contact with recruits/family members. However, phone, text, email, social media messaging, as well as face-to-face contact with recruits/family on a coaches institutional campus is allowed during this time period.
- Coaches may make official verbal offers to recruits beginning June 15 after the prospects grade 10 year in High School.
- Recruits are allowed to verbally commit to a school anytime after an official verbal offer is presented to them by a member of the coaching staff. In all cases, offers are contingent upon the recruit being admitted to the institution and getting through the NCAA Eligibility process.
DI Recruiting Nuances
The above are DI rules that are in the NCAA manual. A book that resembles you grade 10 biology textbook. 450 pages of rules, interpretations, and jargon that takes a lawyer to decipher. In this section, we’ll cover some of the more important DI nuances to recruiting, you probably won’t find these in any book.
Athletic scholarships can be given to recruits solely based on their hockey playing ability. It’s like an NHL GM trying to figure out how much to pay a player. Scholarship $ is given out by the coaching staff based on what they think that player is worth. Sometimes it’s 100% but more often that not, it’s less. It’s rare to get a full scholarship these days. In fact, any amount of scholarship money given is a bonus. Just to play at the DI level is an accomplishment in itself.
Players can receive a ‘Full’ scholarship or any amount less than 100% of what a scholarship consists of. It’s very common for coaches to give partial scholarships so the program has more scholarship money to spread around amongst its players.
Most, but not all DI teams, have 18 ‘full’ scholarships at its disposal to use to help recruit players. All Ivy League schools–Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale do not offer athletic scholarships. 18 is the max the NCAA allows hockey programs to use. The term ‘full’ relates to what an athletic scholarship is made up of and how they are allocated. An Athletic scholarship is made up of 4 parts: 1) Tuition, 2) Room, 3) Board (meals), and 4) School Fees – some but not all.