Going to College Archive

How do Players Verbally Commit to Schools so Early in the Process?

Understanding NCAA rules can help you get ahead in the recruiting world

In the past several years, players, parents and coaches have all witnessed a number of significant changes with how the recruiting process works throughout the world of junior golf. The most obvious change has been the rate at which players commit to schools. Many of the top 25 programs have at least one, if not all, of their commitments before the prospects begin their junior year in high school. While this is not true for all recruits, it has become common enough to explore further. How does this happen so early?

NCAA rules allow prospects to visit campuses at their own expense anytime. These campus tours are referred to as unofficial visits and can occur even when the prospect is very young (8th, 9th, 10th grades for example). The main benefit to a prospect making an unofficial visit is the opportunity to meet with the coach. NCAA rules allow coaches to meet with prospects on campus during unofficial visits regardless of the prospectís age or year in school. This face-to-face meeting is a great way to learn more about the school and golf program, the coach, his/her interest in recruiting you and how the recruiting process will unfold.

Beginning September 1st of a prospectís junior year in high school, they can receive letters, emails, phone calls and text messages from NCAA Division I coaches who are interested in recruiting them. This is the first opportunity for coaches to make any contact with a prospect (other than a generic questionnaire). Prospects and their parents, however, are allowed to call coaches anytime. This is a key step in making arrangements to meet with a coach during an unofficial visit. Although coaches cannot return calls prior to September 1st, they do like prospects to call them especially in cases where the prospect is a potential fit in their golf program. In other words, do your homework first before calling a coach. Make sure the prospect has the necessary academic and athletic qualifications to attend the school.

A top junior player who is nationally ranked should arrange several unofficial visits during his/her sophomore year (and in some cases freshman year) of high school. Every prospect should visit the school(s) they are interested in. This cannot be over emphasized considering they may ultimately spend four years of their life at the school. During these visits, coaches can offer prospects roster positions and/or scholarships but only in a verbal manner. Official signings occur first in mid-November (early signing) during the prospectís senior year in high school. The key is to be proactive and to arrange the unofficial visits, especially if the prospect has received some recruiting materials (including an early questionnaire) from the coach or school.

A word of caution for anyone who is interested in making an early verbal commitment: THINGS CHANGE! While you may think a school is right for you, what will happen if the coach leaves or your game improves to a level where you could play for a better team? Be slow and careful to make the right decision. Once you give the coach your word, make sure it is final. This is what you should expect from the coach as well.

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