NCAA extends recruiting dead period through July 31

photo by: Matt Tait

Ball boys shoot around on the Sprint Center floor in Kansas City. Mo., Thursday morning, March 12, 2020, in place of Texas and Texas Tech, the teams that should have been playing in the Big 12 basketball tournament at the time of this photograph. The tournament was canceled Thursday morning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cue the virtual visits and keep those cellphones charged. It’s going to be a quiet summer on the in-person college athletics recruiting front.

That much was learned this week, when the NCAA’s Division I Council Coordination Committee announced that the current recruiting dead period had been extended through July 31 in all sports.

The move comes just a couple of weeks after the National Association of Basketball Coaches formally recommended that an extension of the dead period to July 31.

A dead period means no in-person recruiting activities, including college campus visits, in-home visits or live evaluations.

Prospects are allowed to reach out to coaches as much as they like, and phone calls, text messages, emails, Zoom calls and even virtual visits are all allowed.

The official extension means some of the biggest events in college basketball recruiting — the Peach Jam in Georgia and other events in Texas and around the country — will not take place this summer.

College coaches already missed out on the two evaluation periods scheduled for April. And, with the next two scheduled for July 9-12 and 21-26, the extension of the dead period to July 31 likely eliminates those recruiting opportunities, as well.

It’s possible that the pandemic landscape could change or improve enough to open recruiting back up before July 31, but the uncertainty makes it tough to plan and schedule those annual recruiting showcases and similar events.

“The committee will regularly evaluate the dead period, continuing to be guided by medical experts,” NCAA officials said in a statement announcing the move.

While the world and college athletics continue to wade through all of the changes and challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA, college administrators and coaches everywhere appear to be locked in on being as cautious as possible in moving forward.

Power Five conferences in the past week have started to announce dates and criteria for their return-to-campus plans, and most of them include initial stages that are voluntary.

The NCAA’s statement also addressed a change to virtual instruction by college strength and conditioning coaches, who, up to this point, have been kept from working with student-athletes for the past couple of months.

The statement read: “Starting June 1 strength and conditioning coaches may virtually observe voluntary physical workouts for health and safety purposes, but only if requested by the student-athlete.”

In an ever-evolving landscape that is essentially the lifeblood of college athletics, coaches in all sports will continue to get creative with the way they recruit.

Virtual visits have become a regular part of the recruiting vocabulary and also have led prospects to commit without actually visiting campuses.

There no doubt will be other methods that become common practice, some taking advantage of new technology and perhaps others going back to the old days where a handwritten letter or packet in the mail meant everything.

It will be interesting to track the recruiting classes that are put together during these times, to see if they look similar or different from the classes that coaches typically recruit and to see, years down the road, how the changes impact the bottom line of winning.

Recruiting cannot and will not stop. But, at least for the next couple of months, it’s going to look a lot different.

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