College Recruiting: The NCAA Dead Period

College Recruiting: The NCAA Dead Period

By Tom Kovic

Families and prospective student-athletes who have a firm grip on NCAA recruiting rules will run into fewer roadblocks while navigating the college quest. The NCAA manual is a comprehensive resource, and sometimes difficult to comprehend and navigate. Let’s take a “cliff notes” approach to the NCAA Dead Period.

Whether your aim is understanding contacts and evaluations, or restrictions with campus visits, a simplified approach will serve you best. Considering the sport of women’s gymnastics has a new and extended NCAA Dead Period fast approaching, let’s begin there.

According to the NCAA Manual a Dead Period “is a period of time when it is not permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts or evaluations on or off the institutions’ campus or permit official or unofficial visits by prospective student-athletes. It remains permissible, however, for an institutions staff member to write or telephone a prospective student-athlete during a dead period.”

Typically, annual gymnastics dead periods surround the signing of the national letter of intent and the NCAA National Championships. The next dead period begins December 1 and concludes December 30, 2018. It is the most extended dead period of the year and gives everyone some well-deserved downtime, and it makes sense on several levels.

  • College coaches recently wrapped up the 2019 Early Decision/Early Signing prospects in mid-November.
  • College athletes are approaching reading days and final exams in mid-December.
  • Coaches are helping their boys and girls, especially the college freshmen, wrap up their first semester on a high note.
  • Everyone needs a break, and time with family during the holiday!

Tips for Prospects
If you read the NCAA Dead Period definition carefully, you realize that there is plenty of wiggle room when it comes to communication with college coaches. Basically, face to face contact is prohibited, but prospects and college coaches can openly communicate electronically and by voice.

Respect the college coaches and avoid bombarding them with unnecessary communication. Considering this is still pre-season for most athletes nationwide, it is an excellent opportunity for you to “set the table” for what will hopefully be a great 2019 season.

Please send an e-mail to your college coach list and give them a preview to the season. Share your 2019 meet schedule, final pre-season highlight video and provide the coaches with a snapshot of how you are doing in the classroom. Simple, impactful and right to the point.

When the holiday’s approach, send a handwritten card to the coaches and wish them and their families a happy holiday. Wish the coaches and their teams all the best of luck in the 2019 season.

NCAA rules are set in place to provide prospects, families, and coaches with detailed guidelines to the college athletics recruiting process. An NCAA Dead Period is not a bad thing! Understanding and working within these rules will help you become an educated consumer and position you best in the college search.

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and the founder/principal advisor at Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families in navigating the college recruiting process. For further information visit:

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