FAYETTEVILLE — There’s a good chance the NCAA allows in-person visits again on June 1 and ends the current dead period as the Division-I Council meets this week.
However, many questions still persist. What will the new normal look like or will the NCAA just allow it to go back like it was prior to COVID-19? Arkansas and other schools are already lining up official visitors for the June 4-6 weekend and beyond. After 15 months of prospects not being allowed to visit expect a busy June.
While some schools may have the thought everything will just go back to normal and unlimited prospects will be allowed on campus. But what if the university, county and state has restrictions that place restrictions on the number of visitors?
An even bigger question could concern the football camps held in June and even July at times. Camps bring several hundred players on campus at one time with many also having their family come as well. Will there be 500 or so people in the Walker Pavilion? Will the NCAA limit the number of official visitors and campers?
This isn’t to rain on anyone’s parade who is excited about recruiting opening back up, but instead just a reality check that many questions are still be answered on exactly how it will look. No doubt it’s a huge positive for the recruits to be able to get on campus with their families, meet the coaches and actually see the area where they may spend the next 3-5 years of their lives. This is the biggest decision most of these prospects have ever made and they deserve to see it in person. It’s just a positive not only for them to meet the coaches, but also for the coaches to meet the recruits.
The NCAA has dates set in place for when recruits can take official visits to schools and the such, but will the Division-I Council keep the dates in place or adjust them?
In a normal year before COVID-19, junior prospects could take official visits April 1 through the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June. That date would be June 27 this year and a dead period would take place from June 28 to July 24. A quiet period for one week would follow where in-person recruiting can only be done on campuses, then a dead period the entire month of August. On-campus visits would be allowed from Sept. 1 to Dec. 14. Obviously the April 1 to May 31 dates are gone this year. It seems likely the NCAA could put a new recruiting calendar in place to adjust to the lost time. In other words, will July be a dead period as planned or will official visits be allowed to make up for lost time in April and May?
Some have asked if the recruits visiting along with their families be required to be tested while on campus? That is highly doubtful because how do you deal with a positive test? Does the school really want to ask a prospect or family member to quarantine for 14 days in a local hotel? That would go over about as well as forcing Joe Biden and Donald Trump to have dinner together tonight.
The question of the vaccine have also come into play by some, but the school can’t even mandate to its own athletes to take the test so there’s basically no chance this becomes a factor in recruiting.
While it’s a win-win for recruits to be able to visit and coaches to meet them in person it’s also very likely Zoom conferences are also here to stay. Virtual visits on Zoom are very informative for the recruits and families. For some who simply can’t afford to travel all over the country on unofficial visits (where the recruit and family pay for the trips) it’s a way to learn about a school. The official visits are paid for by the schools, but not the unofficial visits.
Plus the Zoom conferences allow both the recruit and coaches a chance to begin to build a bond or relationship and then keep it going because there will still be restrictions on when and how often coaches can go on the road and recruits able to visit in person.
The Zoom sessions allow the schools to make academic presentations to prospects that are very informative to the parents thus answering several questions in case an adult can’t make it on the official visit due to work or whatever reason.
So despite what the new recruiting normal looks like, don’t expect that you have heard the last of the term “virtual visits”. They serve a purpose and are beneficial to both the recruits and coaches so expect them to stay in some form.
In addition, the NCAA is always looking at ways to cut costs. Don’t be totally surprised if the NCAA looks into cutting back on the times a school can send its coaching staff on the road recruiting. Usually after spring practice ends a school sends its assistants on the road, head coaches are prevented from going out, and having that many assistants on the road with travel, hotels, meals and more equals big bucks. Any cutbacks here would likely be favored by the smaller schools and fought by the larger schools.
Regardless of all the speculation, the recruiting picture for the Class of 2022 and beyond will come clearer later this week.