Campus Visits 101

One of the most important decisions that a college athlete recruit will make is which college scholarship offer to accept.  The best way to learn about a college or university and the baseball program, that you are interested in or that that is recruiting you, is to visit campus.  From the standpoint of NCAA rules, there are two types of visits:  “official” and “unofficial”.  This article will discuss both, the differences and the rules for each.

Unofficial Visits
Any time an athlete visits campus with parents or other family members, or with some of their friends, at their own expense, this is an “unofficial” visit.  Some facts about unofficial visits:

  • Must be made at prospect’s expense
  • University can provide up to 3 complimentary admissions to campus athletic event
  • No limit on number of unofficial visits
  • Cannot visit campus during a dead period – a period of time in which the NCAA will not allow any contact between the coach and a recruit.
  • Cannot participate in tryout during official visit (Division I)

Official Visits

Official visits are highly regulated by NCAA rules.  During an official visit to an NCAA institution, it is permissible for the institution to provide a prospect with transportation to visit the campus, and with meals and lodging during a visit to campus that cannot exceed 48 hours from the time that the prospect (and parents or legal guardians, if they accompany the prospect) arrives on campus.

Large universities with ample recruiting budgets may provide all of the permissible expenses that they are permitted to provide.  However, some institutions, especially smaller colleges or universities with limited recruiting budgets, may only provide meals while on campus, or meals and lodging for just one night instead of two.

Some important points to know about official visits include:

  • Cannot be made prior to first day of classes for senior year of HS
  • Limit of 5 official visits, only one per school (even if 2-sport athlete)
  • Cannot visit campus during a dead period
  • Must be registered with Eligibility Center
  • Must provide HS transcript and ACT or SAT test score to university
  • University can provide transportation, meals, lodging for prospect
  • University can provide meals and lodging to parents, also transportation if traveling together in car with prospect
  • Phone call rules prior to visit (unlimited during 5 days prior to visit)
  • 48-hr. rule from time of arrival on campus
  • Will visit interfere with competition?
  • Can combine two visits into one trip with assistance of schools.
  • Cannot participate in tryout during official visit (Division I)

This article has addressed the difference between official and unofficial visits and outlined the rules for each.  However, knowing the rules is only the starting point.

Many parents and athletes are so excited and happy about being noticed and recruited, that they often forget the ONE THING that is vital to their future success and happiness playing the sport they love at the level they aspire.  That one thing is proper preparation for the visit!

Making the decision on which college to attend is extremely important and can have major financial and emotional implications for many years.

The visit, whether official or unofficial, is extremely important and should be treated as you would a job interview.  Proper preparation is essential for you to make sure you have the information to help your son or daughter make the very best decision for them.

About Rick Allen

25+ years NCAA Rules Expertise, including Director of Compliance at 2 major DI schools

Former President of National Association for Athletic Compliance (NAAC)

Conducts compliance reviews and audits at NCAA Schools throughout the U.S.

Consulted with NAIA schools transitioning to NCAA membership status

Dad of a DI & DII student-athlete

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55 Responses to Campus Visits 101

  • Nick Sanford

    Hey Rick! My name is Nick Sanford. And I was just wondering if there was any paper work that you need to fill out in order to do an official visit?

    Sincerely,

    Nick

    • Nick,

      In order to make an official visit to an NCAA school, you must be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center, and must have submitted your ACT or SAT test score and HS transcript to the school you plan to visit. In addition, the school must add you to their Institutional Request List that they submit to the NCAA Eligibility Center to access your profile.

      Rick

  • Astrid

    Good evening,

    I have an official visit this coming week. The university that I am going to visit is a Division II swimming. NCAA rules apply for both I and II regarding the amount of visits? Is the coach (any sport) is looking for something in particular or just to see if I have a good rapport with the rest of the team?

    Thanks,
    Astrid

    • Astrid,

      There is a limit of 5 visits to Div. I institutions, but no limit on the number of Div. II schools to which you can make an official visit. The coach wants to show you the campus and the athletic facilities, and see if you are a good fit for the team, and if the team is a good fit for you.

      Rick

  • Franklin

    Hi, Rick.

    In terms of emailing/sending letters to coaches, where is the line between keeping a sturdy relationship with a coach and just annoying them?

    What are some key pointers to knowing how interested a coach is?

    Thanks.

    • Franklin,

      You just judge by the frequency of the responses you receive from the coaches. Also, they are usually not interested in statistics, unless you are in a sport that is based strictly on times, such as swimming or track. Most of the time, they want to see film or video of you performing in your sport.

      Rick

    • Kathi,

      For NCAA schools, that is true in all sports other than Div. I men’s and women’s basketball. Those sports have dates when it is permissible to make official visits during the junior year (Jan. 1 for men, and a date in April for women).

      Rick

  • dave

    Hi, i am going on an unofficial visit to 2 ncaa division 2 schools. I am going to try-out with the soolccer team. Do i need to register with the clearing house? Thanks

  • Mackenzie

    Where can I find the NCAA rules regarding high schools not being able to penalize student athletes going on official visits?

    • Mackenzie,

      You won’t find anything like that. Prospects need to discuss their schedule for any official visits with their HS coach to make sure it doesn’t conflict with any games or tournaments.

      Rick

  • DeMarcus

    Hey Rick,

    On a Division I men’s basketball team, how many players would you expect to have made an official visit before signing? I mean, is a D1 school likely to invite you on an official visit if they’re considering signing you?

    DeMarcus

    • DeMarcus,

      A Div. I basketball team can provide up to 12 official visits per year. If a Div. I program is considering signing you, they will almost certainly invite you on an official visit.

      Rick

      • DeMarcus

        Thanks Rick,

        For international students, does the school cover the expenses of flights over and do they cover the costs of parent/s? Will I end up paying any money for an official visit even if I’m from overseas?

        DeMarcus

        • DeMarcus,

          The NCAA rules allow schools to cover the cost of flights from another country, but many schools don’t have the budget to allow for that. The NCAA rules don’t permit the schools to pay for flights for parents.

          Rick

  • John

    Hi Rick,
    I have an official visit to a Div 1 in about a week and was wondering what I should wear and should I bring any of my own money? Also the coach said well go to the football, basketball, and volleyball games that are going on so what will our seats be like? Sidelines?
    Thanks,
    John

    • John,

      You should bring some of your own money for snacks in the airport, or to buy if you are driving to the campus. Regarding attire, the main thing to remember is don’t wear the sweatshirt or t-shirt of another school. I’ve heard of kids being sent home from the visit for doing that.

      You may be on the sidelines during pregame warmups, but during the game you should be in the general seating area.

      Rick

    • Ammon,

      Just simply let the coach know that you’d like to make an unofficial visit to campus and would like to know what he/she would suggest as a good date. You may also want to ask if there are any requirements to make an unofficial visit to their school (some schools may require a copy of your transcript before they will approve a visit).

      Rick

  • terry

    Scenario–Redshirted Juco football player takes 3 official visits to different major colleges and then finds out he will not graduate.
    He then plays his second juco season.

    How many more official visits does he have?
    Does he only have the remaining 2 from the previous year, or does he receive 5 more official visits.
    Thanks

  • Kay

    Rick,
    You mention you can combine two official visits into one trip with the assistance of schools. How do you go about that if they are in different states? Do you have to tell each of them about the other visit? What if only one is willing to pay airfare and the other cannot?
    Thanks!

    • Kay,

      Yes, you would have to tell each of them about the other visit so that there is coordination of which school is paying for what portion of the travel, and the routing of the flights.

      Rick

  • Sierra

    I’m a freshman at an NJCAA school looking to transfer to a D1 or D2 school in the fall. I’ve done a little research and I believe I’m allowed to contact the coaches without a consent form from my athletic director because I’m not currently at an NCAA or a NAIA school currently. Is this correct?
    Also, because I’m a freshman, am I allowed to make official visits paid for by the NCAA school I’m visiting?
    Thanks!

    • Sierra,

      You can contact NCAA Div. I and/or II coaches without permission from your school since you’re at a JUCO. Your ability to make an official visit during your freshman year will depend upon whether you’ve been certified as a “Qualifier” by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

      Rick

  • Gerald

    My son is a track and football athlete. He is intersted in taking D1 offical visits in both sports. Is he allowed to take 5 official visits in each sport or is he limited to 5 in total?

  • Sam

    Hey,

    My sister is a Junior about to make an unofficial visit to a D-1 womens basketball program. She’s in email correspondence with the coach about the details of the visit. Does she have to do any registering or notification with the NCAA before going on the visit? Any thing else we should know or do before going to the visit?

  • John R

    My son has an official visit coming up this weekend to a D-2 school as a football recruit. The coach recruiting him has mentioned signing during the visit which my son doesn’t want to do. Is signing permissible at this time (Jan 18) before the official signing day which i think is Feb 4th this year? The coach indicates they could take back their offer he if doesn’t sign during the visit.

  • James

    Hello,

    I’m currently attending a JUCO and there are at least two D1 schools that have expressed interest. Where do I go from here? Should I contact them and ask for an official visit, or should I wait for them to reach out to me again? My athletic director is convinced I will receive a better offer, but I don’t want to pass up an opportunity. Not sure what to do at this point.

    Thank you,

    • James,

      Asking for an official visit may make it appear that you are “desperate.” I think that you should be patient, but also have a talk with your coach and athletic director to ask what they are doing, or what you can do along with them, to promote you to Div. I schools, such as sending out e-mails or calling the schools to give them any updates on your season.

      Rick

      • James

        This is basically what my coach and athletic director told me. Thanks a million. This was helpful. I’m working on my bio and will be emailing it to several schools along with my Hudl highlights.

        Thanks again!

        James

  • Abbey

    HI RICK…. I COME FROM A DIVORCED FAMILY AND HAVE A OFFICIAL VISIT TO DIV1 COMING UP…. WHO MAKES THE DECISION ON WHAT FAMILY MEMBER CAN ATTEND. THANK YOU

    • Abbey,

      You make the decision as to which family members attend. The school is limited in the expenses they can provide, but you should make that decision. The school is allowed to provide two additional complimentary admissions for a game on campus for prospects with divorced parents.

      Rick

  • michael

    Rick,

    We were taking an unofficial visit to a D2 school and the school mentioned a 43$ fee that we had to pay. They said that was new NCAA legislation? I searched for it and could not find it – is this fee valid?

    • Michael,

      I’m not aware of any new NCAA rule that requires a certain fee when visiting a Div. II campus. My suspicion is that you may be paying for one of the following items that the school isn’t allowed to provide on an unofficial visit – more than one meal in an on-campus dining facility (or off-campus facility if the on-campus dining facilities were closed, for example, for spring break), lodging for your son or daughter in a campus dorm (if the college has a standard fee for that), or perhaps game tickets if there were more than three of you making the visit to campus.

      Rick

  • Kim

    hi Rick,
    My son had intended on going on an official visit to a div. 2 school. They bought the airplane ticket and everything was all set. We got the financial aid package and decided we could not afford our out of pocket portion. I had him cancel the visit so as not to mislead the school into thinking we were still considering it. Now the school says we have to repay yhe airfare. they have had over a week notice to cancel. Is this legal?

    • Kim,

      There is no reason that you need to pay for airfare that your son is not using. The school can cancel the ticket and have it re-issued to another person, or get a refund for it. Even if they can’t do that, they should eat the fare as a “cost of doing business.”

      If they didn’t buy a refundable or re-assignable airfare, that’s their problem, not yours. They are concerned that he will use the ticket, or the value of the ticket, to take a personal trip somewhere else.

      Rick

  • Sherry

    My son is being noticed by at some ivy league schools for football. He is going to a “junior day” which includes buses for a tour around the campus, lunch and a attendance at the teams spring game. The fee is $30 per person. What is your understanding of “junior days” and the value we should place on them for future recuriting purposes. Thanks

    • Sherry,

      I would place a significant value on junior days if at a school that your son is highly interested in and if it may be a good fit for him. If your son is not a good fit academically for an Ivy school, then it’s not a good value. But, if it is possibly a good fit for him, it’s a great way to meet the coaches in person, and create some name and face-to-face recognition.

      Rick

  • Dan

    Hi Rick. Can you tell me if an athlete does an overnight at a DII institution, is that considered an official visit?

    • Dan,

      It would be if the school provides any expenses for the visit other than admission to an athletics event and a meal on campus. If the athlete or the family pays for everything other than those two things, then it would be an unofficial visit.

      Rick

  • Rachelle

    If visiting a college for an unofficial visit (group of nine families attending tour, presentation by coaches and trainers, as well as admissions, lunch with current players… And at the end, playing ball, what should student-athlete wear? Nice clothes and change for workout, or workout clothes?

    • Rachelle,

      In my opinion, the athlete should wear “nice” clothes, and then change for the workout. Depending upon the sport and how hard the workout will be, the athlete may want to be able to change out of his/her sweaty clothes after the workout.

      To prepare for this campus visit, you may be interested in our “Informed Athlete’s Guide to Campus Visits” which can be downloaded from the Store of our website. Here’s a link to the Guide to Campus Visits:

      http://www.informedathlete.com/informed-athletes-guide-to-campus-visits?cid=187

      Rick

  • Tanya

    Can Soph. and Junior high school athletes on unofficial visit to Div I school stay overnight in dorms with team?

    • Tanya,

      That is possible. If the university normally charges a fee any time a prospective student is an overnight guest in the dorm, then the athlete would have to pay this fee.

      Rick

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