Spring Football Evaluation Period – Reminders Prior to April 15

As many know, the spring football evaluation period begins on Saturday, April 15 and ends on May 31, 2017. Let’s take a look at some reminders for football off-campus recruiters:

  • Football programs have 168 evaluation days during the spring evaluation period (exception for U.S. service academies.
    • Evaluation day = one coach engaged in evaluation of any prospect on one day.
      • Two coaches making evaluations on the same day = two evaluations days
  • Football programs are able to visit a prospect’s educational institution a maximum of two calendar days during the spring evaluation period.
    • Off-campus recruiters may make two evaluations of a prospect during these two calendar days. One evaluation should be specific to a prospect’s academics and the other evaluation should be specific to a prospect’s athletics ability.
      • Should an off-campus recruiter conduct an athletic and academic evaluation of a prospect on the same calendar day, that will count as an academic evaluation and the football program will have a second athletics evaluation available on another calendar day.
    • An athletics evaluation is limited to:
      • Regularly scheduled HS, prep school and two-year college contests and practices;
      • Regular scholastic activities involving prospects enrolled only at the institution at which the regular scholastic activities occur; and
      • Events, other than all star contests and associated activities, that are organized and conducted solely by the application state high school athletics association, state prep school association or state or national junior college athletics association.
    • Visits to a high school during that portion of the day when classes are being conducted for all students must receive the approval of an executive officer at the high school (13.1.4).   Permission shall be in writing and properly notify an administrator
  • Head Football Coach
    • Head coaches are prohibited from the following:
      • Engaging in off-campus recruiting activities;
      • Participating in off-campus coaching clinics;
      • Visiting a prospect’s educational institution for any reason;
      • Meeting with a prospect’s coach at an off-campus location; and
      • Attending or speaking at a banquet or meeting designed to recognize prospects.
      • Making off-campus contact with a prospect who has signed an NLI, offer of admission and/or financial aid, or who has submitted a financial deposit in response to an offer of admission.

Common Issues Stemming From Spring Evaluation Periods

Pre-arranged “bumps” between coaches and prospects

  • Remember that evaluations are off-campus recruiting activities designed to assess the academic profile or athletics ability of a prospect; they are not meant as opportunities to make in-person, off-campus contact with prospects (hence, the reason for contact and evaluation periods).
  • Coaches who visit high schools must be careful to avoid “bumps” that are pre-arranged by HS coaches or administrators for the purpose of having a recruiting conversation with a PSA.
    • Example: College coach visits a HS football coach’s office to discuss a prospect and his athletics ability. 15 minutes into the meeting, the prospect is ushered into the HS coach’s office and the college coach engages in brief conversation with the HS coach and prospect about the prospect’s athletics talent.
  • Coaches must also be aware that “bumps” with prospects in the hallways that involve pictures or any face-to-face encounters should NOT occur.
    • Example: A college coach visits a HS to conduct an academic and athletics evaluation of a few prospects. The coach obtains the prospect’s class schedule ahead of the visit and notes that they are due to be released from their third period Math class at 10:45 am. The college coach waits outside of the classroom in anticapation of class ending. Once class ends, the college coach says hello to the prospects, walks down the hall with them, engages in a brief 3-4 minute discussion and, finally, takes a picture with them.
      • This is a bad idea!
      • See University of Virginia Public Infractions Report
      • “The [Committee on Infractions] panel noted even brief face-to-face encounters during noncontact periods result in an unfair advantage for the school.” This type of action results in a violation.

Viewing Football Prospects Competing in Track & Field Meets

  • Appropriately Counting Evaluations for Participating Prospects
    • According to the NCAA manual, coaches who attend an individual sport competition in which prospects from multiple institutions participate will use an evaluation for those participants whom the coach observes engaging in practice or competition.
      • Example: If a football coach observes a prospective student-athlete in an eight-person heat at a track and field meet, the football coach is charged with an evaluation for all eight prospective student-athletes participating in that heat, even if the football coach is recruiting only one of the participating prospective student-athletes.  Therefore, if any of the other participants are football prospective student-athletes, the coach may not make two visits to those prospective student-athletes’ high schools because the coach would have exceeded the permissible number of evaluations in the spring evaluation period.
    • Can a coach merely turn one’s back to a track event to avoid triggering an evaluation?
      • See Baylor University Public Infractions Report
      • “Despite receiving education about recruiting rules, two assistant football coaches tried to find a loophole in the rules to allow them to be seen more by prospects in the spring. During one compliance session, a coach asked if the staff could attend a track meet and turn their backs when the prospect they wanted to be seen by was competing so the coaches could avoid having to log an evaluation for that prospect. Although the compliance office stated this would be allowable, the panel noted that counsel was ill-advised at best. It further noted that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a school to monitor when, or if, a coach attending a track meet looks down or turns away from a certain event to avoid evaluations of a prospect.
      • In a word, no, this is not advisable.