‘Dead period?’ ‘Quiet period?’ Explaining the NCAA’s football recruiting calendar

Posted by    |    April 20th, 2017 at 8:19 am

The NCAA has a complicated set of rules for coaches and prospects to follow, which affects recruiting.

National Signing Day is February 3, and over the next two months, college football fans will hear all sorts of vague terminology that relates to contact between coaches and high school seniors.

Let’s try to clarify, beginning with the various NCAA “periods.”

As you’ll see, these rules are inefficient. They make it tough for college coaches to evaluate prospects. The following things are limited by the NCAA at various times of the year: prospects visiting a college campus (officially or unofficially), coaches visiting a prospect’s school, coaches visiting a prospect’s home, written communication, and electronic communication.

Contact period

The most wide-open time. During this time, coaches can visit with prospects and families regardless of location. In-person contact is permitted once per week. Note that a coach cannot visit a school multiple times in one week if it has more than one prospect.  Electronic and written communications are also permitted.

This is when tales of coaches praising Mama’s cooking are born, during in-home visits.

Evaluation period (currently in)

Considerably more restrictive than the contact period in one key way: off campus face-to-face contact is not permitted. That means no home visits. Coaches can still visit a prospect’s school. Visits to schools are ostensibly for the purpose of evaluation. Prospects can visit colleges and receive written and electronic communication. Many scholarship offers go out in this period.

Quiet period

The quiet period tightens things a bit more, preventing any off-campus contact or viewing. Visits to the college’s campus and written or electronic communications are still permitted.

Coaches often try to have prospects visit campus unofficially during this time in the spring and early summer, so that they can become familiar with campus.

Dead period

The dead period is the most restrictive. No in-person contact is allowed, even if a prospect makes a visit to the college campus. Written and electronic communications are still permitted.

And yet, prospects still do decide to commit to schools in late December and early January, often because they’ve considered all their options, taken all their visits, and are ready to pull the trigger.

Recruiting calendar

The NCAA’s recruiting calendar is confusing and written for compliance offices. Using 2015-2016 as an example, here’s a simplified version, though it obviously changes slightly from year to year:

Date and period Visit prospect’s school Visit prospect outside of school Prospect can visit university & meet w/ coaches
8/1/16 – 11/26/16 Quiet
9/1/16 – 11/30/16 Evaluation (42 select days)
11/27/16 – 12/12/16 Contact
12/12/16 – 1/11/17 Dead
1/12/17 – 1/29/17 Contact
1/30/17 Quiet
1/31/17 – 2/2/17 Dead
2/3/17 – 4/14/17 Quiet
4/15/17 – 5/31/17 Evaluation
6/1/17 – 6/26/17 Quiet
6/27/17 – 7/9/17 Dead
7/10/17 – 7/31/17 Quiet
Note that between 12/12/16 and 1/11/17, admitted mid-year enrollees who have signed financial aid paperwork with the college are governed by contact period rules.