Recruiting Terms

Commitment (oral or verbal commitment)

This phrase is used to describe a college-bound student-athlete’s commitment to a school before he or she signs (or is able to sign) a National Letter of Intent. A college-bound student-athlete can announce a verbal commitment at any time. While verbal commitments have become very popular for both college-bound student-athletes and coaches, this “commitment” is NOT binding on either the college-bound student-athlete or the school.Only the signing of the National Letter of Intent accompanied by a financial aid agreement is binding on both parties.

  • De-commitment: A prospect breaks off a commitment with one school to commit to another.
  • Silent commitment: A commitment made to the coaching staff of a specific school but not made public.
  • Soft commitment: A commitment in which the recruit will continue to take official visits to other schools.

Contact
A contact occurs any time a coach has any face-to-face contact with you or your parents off the college’s campus and says more than hello. A contact also occurs if a coach has any contact with you or your parents at your high school or any location where you are competing or practicing.

Eligibility
Student-athletes receiving an athletic scholarship must graduate from high school, complete 14 core courses (ex. English, math, science), earn a minimum required grade-point average in core courses, and earn a combined SAT or ACT sum score that matches his core-course grade-point average and test score sliding scale (for example, a 2.4 core-course grade-point average needs a 860 SAT).

Qualifier: A student-athlete who meets the academic requirements listed above. A qualifier can practice or compete for a college or university during his first year of college, can receive an athletics scholarship during his first year of college, and can play four seasons in his sport if he maintains eligibility from year to year.

Non-qualifier: Non-qualifiers do not meet the academic requirements listed above. Non-qualifiers cannot practice or compete for their college or university during their first year of college. They cannot receive an athletics scholarship during their first year of college, but they may receive need-based financial aid. They can play only three seasons in their sport if they maintain eligibility from year to year (to earn a fourth season they must complete at least 80 percent of their degree before beginning their fifth year of college).

Evaluation
An evaluation is an activity by a coach to evaluate your academic or athletics ability. This would include visiting your high school or watching you practice or compete.

Grayshirt
A term used in the recruiting process to describe situations in which a student-athlete delays initial enrollment in a collegiate institution to the winter or spring term after the traditional academic year begins. Students who grayshirt often use the fall to take classes part time or choose not to enroll in college at all.

National Letter of Intent (NLI or LOI)
National Letter of Intent is the document a prospective student-athlete signs when he or she agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. According to the terms of the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete, provided he or she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution.

National Signing Day
The first day prospective student-athletes can sign a national letter of intent. For high school football athletes, Signing Day falls on the first Wednesday of February. There is a separate signing day for midseason transfers (junior college transfers) in December.

Prep school/Military academy
If a prospect does not graduate from high school in four years he can enroll in a fifth year of high school at a preparatory school or military academy. The prospect’s high school GPA is locked and can only be improved by retaking courses. A prospect does not lose college eligibility while competing for a prep school or military academy but will be considered a non- or partial-qualifier when enrolling at an NCAA institution.

Prospective Student-Athlete
You become a “prospective student-athlete” when:
– You start ninth-grade classes; or
– Before your ninth-grade year, a college gives you, your relatives or your friends any financial aid or other benefits that the college does not provide to students generally.

Recruit
A prospective student-athlete is considered a recruit when he is provided with an official visit, having arranged, in-person, off-campus contact with a coach, receiving telephone contact from a coach more than once, or is issued a National Letter of Intent from the institution.

Recruiting calendar
College coaches are limited at times during the year in how often and in what way they may contact or evaluate prospects.

Contact Period: During this time, a college coach may have in-person contact with you and/or your parents on or off the college’s campus. The coach may also watch you play or visit your high school. You and your parents may visit a college campus and the coach may write and telephone you during this period.

Dead Period: The college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parent at any time in the dead period. The coach may write and telephone you or your parents during this time.

Evaluation Period: The college coach may watch you play or visit your high school, but cannot have any in-person conversations with you or your parents off the college’s campus. You and your parents can visit a college campus during this period. A coach may write and telephone you or your parents during this time.

Quiet Period: The college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents off the college’s campus. The coach may not watch you play or visit your high school during this period. You and your parents may visit a college campus during this time. A coach may write or telephone you or your parents during this time.

Redshirt
A term used to describe a student-athlete who does not participate in competition in a sport for an entire academic year. If you do not compete in a sport the entire academic year, you have not used a season of competition. For example, if you are a qualifier, and you attend a four-year college your freshman year, and you practice but do not compete against outside competition, you would still have the next four years to play four seasons of competition.

Visits
Prospects’ visits to a college campus are divided into official and unofficial visits:

Official Visit: Any visit to a college campus by you and your parents paid for by the college. The college may pay the  following expenses:
– Your transportation to and from the college;
– Room and meals (three per day) while you are visiting the college; and
– Reasonable entertainment expenses, including three complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest. Before a college may  invite you on an official visit, you will have to provide the college with a copy of your high school transcript (Division I only) and SAT, ACT or PLAN score and register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Unofficial Visit: Any visit by you and your parents to a college campus paid for by you or your parents. The only expense you may receive from the college is three complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest. You may make as many unofficial visits as you like and may take those visits at any time. The only time you cannot talk with a coach during an unofficial visit is during a dead period.

Sources: Documents provided by ncaa.org, national-letter.org, rivals.com