Distinguishing Between NCAA Recruitment Periods

This post is the third in a series about NCAA athletics. See the first two posts here:


One of the absolute worst parts of the recruitment process is merely trying to decipher the NCAA’s policies on when you can and cannot do things.


Half of the time I depended on looking towards my peers and roughly following suit. Did that wind up working out? Sure. But it was certainly more of a scrambled adventure than it needed to be. Hopefully, skimming these FAQ’s can help you grasp when contacting coaches is and isn’t acceptable.

1. Where can I find the specific dates on when I can talk to coaches?

The NCAA will post a “recruiting calendar” each year that highlights when recruiting can occur for each sport and under what conditions. Every mainstream sport (for lack of a better adjective) will have its own respective file with color-coded dates. The more unusual sports (like, say, fencing) are grouped together on a separate document. To get a better idea, here is the link for the 2015-2016 Division I and Division II calendars.

2. What is a dead period?

The dead period is the most restrictive of the periods. During a dead period, there can be no face-to-face contact with a coach (and that goes for your parents too), even if you were to visit their school campus. Coaches are not allowed to come to your high school or watch you preform as an athlete. However, you can still communicate via phone or email.

3. What is a quiet period?

Along with the contact period, the quiet period makes up a large chunk of most recruitment calendars. It allows for a bit more flexibility in that, aside from communicating electronically, you can also partake in unofficial but athletically oriented visits to the campus. It’s pretty common for interested student-athletes to schedule college tours and meetings with coaches during this time. Off-campus contact and observation is still prohibited.

4. What is an evaluation period?

An evaluation period is just shy of a contact period; a coach can watch you compete, visit your high school, and email or phone you. You can continue to meet with them on their campuses, but may not have any face-to-face contact in any other location.

5. What is a contact period?

The contact period is, basically, the free-for-all. You can visit with a coach at any location that you would like (in my case, a bagel shop), they can watch you kill it at your sport, and you can keep up the email and phone communication that you (hopefully) started a long ways back.

There are specific sub-rules that are still in effect, for instance, how frequently you can visit a certain coach in person (once a week, if you were wondering). Details regarding any of these less-likely-to-apply restrictions can be answered through the NCAA’s student athlete page.

Aside from knowing these five things, the biggest pointer I can give you is to never – ever – be too shy to ask questions.


It is 100% to your advantage to get information from fellow athletes, parents, and coaches. Be a sponge! Soak in both what they’re doing and what they have to say.


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  • Elise Gout

    Elise writes articles for the Magoosh SAT blog to help teenagers during an exciting time in their lives. Despite residing in Southern California, where she attends San Dieguito Academy high school, she has no surfing abilities whatsoever; it’s actually rather sad. She is your typical senior high school girl who sword fights daily, and is pretty much convinced that bananas are a food sent from heaven. Elise will attend Columbia University next fall to study environmental science.

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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