Earlier this week, the NCAA approved new rule changes in ice hockey that will specifically change when and how often coaches can contact prospective recruits.
The old rule stated that coaches were not allowed to approach a player until June 15 of the player’s sophomore year of high school. Under the rule change, that contact date is moved up to Jan. 1. In addition, restrictions on communication, including text messages and social media direct messages, have been lifted altogether, meaning contact can now be unlimited.
This rule will allow NCAA teams to establish contact with players before the earliest they can be drafted in two of the three leagues under the CHL. Those leagues are Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League. The Western Hockey League allows players out of Bantams to be drafted, which is before the new NCAA date.
Among the NCAA coaches, they like the new date because it will give players targeting the major junior ranks additional options if they decide to go the collegiate route. The earlier date also levels the playing field between the junior clubs and collegiate teams on when and how often they can contact players. Giving players additional options on where to take their talents to is good because if they were to enter junior hockey they could jeopardize their collegiate opportunities.
The new legislation from the NCAA Board of Directors also removes limits on the number of telephone calls, emails, social media direct messages and text messages that coaches can send to those prospective student-athletes beginning Jan. 1 of their sophomore year. In the past, coaches could not contact prospective student-athletes or their families – or even return calls or other messages – until June 15 of a prospect’s sophomore year. Even then, coaches were limited in the number of calls or emails they could make to an individual prospect. They were limited to one text message, phone call, or any other form of contact with a prospective player while the junior teams could contact a player whenever they want.
Previously, it would be a violation of the once-per-month rule if they even sent a congratulatory text or email if they read that a prospect played well in a tournament. Now more seeds can be planted in the minds of a player if he performed well at a tournament and received messages, text messages, or other contact from coaches they have been speaking with.
In the past, many players that played junior had no idea NCAA schools had interest in them because they couldn’t be contacted until June 15. Even if someone who was proactive and contacted schools on their own would not hear back until at least June 15 of their grade 10 year.
The rule that did not change is that coaches are still limited in the number of in-person contacts they can make with prospective players, and they cannot make their first off-campus contact with a prospect until June 15 of their grade 10 year.