The NCAA announced this week the adoption of new rules legislation overseeing the athletic recruiting process for Division I sports. The Division I Council voted to adopt the rules on Tuesday and Wednesday during meetings in Indiannapolis.
For soccer, the immediate impact (effective April 25, 2018) is that athletic departments can’t participate in a recruit’s unofficial visit until Sept. 1 of the recruit’s junior year in high school. Additionally, recruiting conversations during a school’s camp or clinic can’t happen before Sept. 1 of a prospective recruit's junior year.
Starting later this fall (effective August 1, 2018), official visits can now begin Sept. 1 of a prospect’s junior year in high school instead of the first day of classes for senior year, which was the rule previously.
The move comes as several sports, including women's soccer, grapple with the earlier trends of offering players scholarships before even reaching high school. A study compiled by the NCAA, demonstrated in a few slides pulled from an NCAA research project completed in conjunction with the Student Athletes Advisory Council. It shines a light on how soccer recruiting stacks up with other sports.
As evidence by the charts above, recruiting contact starts much earlier in women's Division I soccer. That's reinforced below by the chart of when a player commits, as the average for a men's DI soccer player is junior year, while it's in the sophomore year for women's.
Additional legislation is expected but not until April 2019.