College Coaches Head Into Uncharted Territory With Spring Official Visits

By Andrew Lind on March 3, 2018 at 8:10 am
Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer

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Though the Early Signing Period received most of the attention, it was only a fraction of the recruiting reform legislation approved by the NCAA Division I Council last summer.

The package also included an important rule change that permits prospects heading into their senior year to take official visits from April 1 through the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June. Previously, official visits — which are paid for by the school rather than out of pocket — were not allowed before Sept. 1.

A number of coaches have voiced their concerns about official visits taking place in the spring. And that's reasonable, given the Early Signing Period (Dec. 19-21) feels like an eternity from now, and it's honestly hard for one visit to have a lasting impression on a prospect who is nowhere close to making a decision on his future.

As a result, expect Ohio State to be rather judicious when it comes to inviting prospects to campus over the next few months.

"We're probably going to try to minimize official visits for people that aren't going to decide for a while," head coach Urban Meyer said, noting those who do come to campus this spring will likely make a decision by the end of the summer. "They forget. [It's] just the way it is. What have you done for me lately?" 

Others, like Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Florida's Dan Mullen and Miami's Mark Richt, aren't so keen on the changing landscape and are unlikely to host any recruits in an official capacity this spring.

"We probably won’t do any, to be honest with you," Swinney said. "My big thing is [that] I’m not into the entertainment deal. If guys can’t get here unofficially, they’re probably not coming for four years. We’re not going to change anything here at Clemson. We’re going to continue to operate the way we have, and if that means we lose out on some guys in the spring, then there will be plenty of guys left in the fall."

Echoing that sentiment, Mullen said he doesn't "want to have recruits on campus when no one is on campus. They’re student-athletes still. To bring them on a visit when there’s no professors, there’s no classes going on, schools not in sessions, that’s tough to do sometimes. You want them to get the complete experience."

Added Richt, “I think having official visits in April, May, and June makes no sense. You have eight months a year where you are going to have official visits? It puts a burden on your coaches, a burden on your academic staff and your compliance people. It puts a tremendous burden on everybody and it is not needed."

It'll be interesting to see if those coaches stick to their convictions moving forward at the risk of falling behind with prospects who want to wrap up the recruiting process before their respective senior seasons. However, it's much more likely they'll adjust their strategy, just like they did when the Early Signing Period was first introduced.

Meyer — who was initially against the proposal because he believed it would speed up the recruiting process, but has lightened his stance considerably since — is certainly more open to spring visits than his colleagues, as he ultimately understands the legislation is part of an ever-changing process aimed at helping prospective student-athletes choose what school is best for them.

"Do the student-athletes have an opportunity to go where they wanted to go? And if the answer is, 'Yes,' then it was beneficial for them and I think this is something we continue," Meyer said. "If it's not, then obviously we have to revisit it.”

2017-18 RECRUITING CALENDAR
DATE PERIOD CAN PROSPECT VISIT UNIVERSITY? CAN COACHES VISIT PROSPECT'S SCHOOL? CAN COACHES VISIT PROSPECT OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?
FEB. 3-APRIL 14 QUIET YES NO NO
APRIL 15-MAY 31 EVALUATION YES YES NO
JUNE 1-26 QUIET YES NO NO
JUNE 27-JULY 9 DEAD NO NO NO
JULY 10-31 QUIET YES NO NO
AUG. 1-NOV. 26 QUIET YES NO NO
SEPT. 1-NOV. 30 SPECIAL EVALUATION YES YES NO
NOV. 27-DEC. 11 CONTACT YES YES YES
DEC 12-JAN. 10, 2018 DEAD NO NO NO
JAN. 11-FEB. 4 CONTACT YES YES YES
FEB. 5 QUIET YES NO NO
FEB. 6-8 DEAD NO NO NO
2018-19 RECRUITING CALENDAR
DATE PERIOD CAN PROSPECT VISIT UNIVERSITY? CAN COACHES VISIT PROSPECT'S SCHOOL? CAN COACHES VISIT PROSPECT OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?
FEB. 9-APRIL 14 QUIET YES NO NO
APRIL 15-MAY 31 EVALUATION YES YES NO
JUNE 1-24 QUIET YES NO NO
JUNE 25-JULY 24 DEAD NO NO NO

NOTE: The remainder of the current recruiting calendar will be published by the NCAA later this spring. For a full breakdown of the contact, dead and evaluation period, click here.

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