NCAA Passes Proposal Eliminating Recruiting In Lacrosse Until Junior Year

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The lacrosse world received shocking and encouraging news to start the weekend, as the NCAA has passed a proposal sent by the IWLCA and IMCLA that eliminates college recruitment before September 1st of a prospect’s junior year. The rule will go into effect on April 26th unless the NCAA Board of Directors decide to nix it in their meeting.

The current climate – one in which players commit as early as 8th grade – has been troubling to many, though there wasn’t a ton of optimism when it came to the recruiting proposal actually getting passed by the NCAA Division I council this week during meetings in Indianapolis. 

Though nothing 100 percent official from the NCAA has been released, Syracuse.com posted the first report in their story on Friday afternoon. There was further combination two hours later when US Lacrosse posted an article that included comments from important figures like CEO Steve Stenersen and Samantha Ekstrand, a member of the IWLCA legal counsel.

Specific language from the NCAA in regards to the proposal can be found here. Unofficial visits and communication between a player or his family and college coaches, of course, is prohibited before September 1st junior year.

Here’s more about the ripple effect that the ruling will have on lacrosse:

What This Means For Club Lacrosse

Since the beginning of early recruiting in the past few years, club lacrosse has become king. With several dozen commitments taking place before a player even suits up as a freshman lacrosse player, high school coaches often have limited relationships with the players, so it’s on the club coaches to act as middle men between the player and interested colleges.

To outsmart the contact rules, schools can call a club coach, who then pass on a message to the player to have them call the college coach for a conversation. Once these rules go into effect, that will no longer be the case for 8th, 9th and 10th grade commits, since all contact is banned.

Many feel that these rules will have a large impact on club lacrosse, as their roles as the “third party” will be magnified and even more crucial. Club coaches will likely have even more communication with colleges that want opinions, grades, film and a player’s initial college interests before the September 1 junior year marker to get a jump on the competition.

The unnerving part of the rules being passed is that there could be increased sliminess on the end of club coaches who leverage their contacts and relationships to families who want high college placement. Just how impactful club coaches will be within these new changes is an unknown, but it’s a safe assumption that they will have a bigger role in the recruiting process.

What This Means For College Coaches

There’s no doubt that this is a positive for Division I college coaches. Many coaches have had the responsibility of managing their college rosters and then 20, 30 or 40 of their committed players, at least for the leaders (ACC’s and Big 10’s) in early recruiting. This will make it so that there’s less for them to keep up with.

As far as we know, there’s no ban on live evaluations of players at any age, so the ruling won’t eliminate college coaches watching 8th and 9th graders. They’ll still want to do what they have to do (within the rules, of course) to see the best talent before their competition, and they’ll want to have extensive evaluations of rising sophomores leading up to September 1st. Once that date hits, we’ll go back to where we were years ago, where there was a big midnight rush of contact between colleges and players. Commitments from Top 100 caliber players will happen at a high volume in the first few weeks of September and October while visits and contact take place.

What This Means For High School Players

The most positive impact will be for youth and high school lacrosse, which should be the biggest priority.

The old climate created anxiety amongst young players to be playing tons of lacrosse to be prepared to be recruited by the time they hit high school. So-called ‘helicopter’ parents were all over the place, pushing their kids to showcases, tournaments and club programs that sold the Division I dream. If players weren’t committed by the time they were sophomores and juniors, they became discouraged, sometimes enough to give up playing lacrosse entirely.

Now, there’s more time for development.

It was often the players that were the biggest and most skilled as 14 and 15-year-olds that ended up committing early to the most prestigious college programs. There’s now more time for prospects to develop physically, socially and emotionally, in order for recruitment during junior and senior year. This is a positive for late bloomers, late growers and in reality, the entire high school lacrosse scene.

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