College Coaches Responding To Email

College Coaches Responding To Email

As a high school athlete serious about playing your sport at the next level, you will absolutely want to reach out to coaches at schools you are interested in. Email is the easiest way to get through to a college coach, but you're probably wonder, if you email a college coach, are they allowed to respond?

In general, college coaches can respond to your email after June 15th or September 1st of your junior year of high school. The exact date depends on the sport you play and the college's division. The NCAA restricts the ability of coaches to communicate directly with high school athletes before these dates. The NCAA never limits the athlete's ability to reach out to college coaches. Even if it's before June 15th or September 1st of your junior year, coaches can still respond to you through indirect communication channels, like through your high school coach.

Communicating with a college coach can be intimidating. You may be worried about annoying the coach or getting rejected. Still, emailing college coaches early and often is your best bet of being noticed. Even if you don't hear back from the coach you emailed, you still might be getting their attention. Below are the exact dates by sport that a coach can reach out to you and respond to your emails.

Dates a Coach Can Respond To Email by Sport for Division I

Sport Date
Men's Basketball June 15
Men's Ice Hockey January 1 (Sophomore Year)
All Other Men and Women's Sports September 1

Division II: The NCAA recruiting rules for Division II are more relaxed than Division I. Coaches will be able to respond to and send you emails on or after June 15th of the summer before your junior year in high school.

Division III: There are no restrictions for when Division III coaches can respond and reach out to you via email. At the Division III level, competition over recruits is less fierce. So, the NCAA isn't as concerned with protecting athletes from a coach's communication.

Why the NCAA Limits Coaches' Ability To Communicate With Recruits

You might be frustrated by the fact that the NCAA limits coaches communication with high school athletes for a large portion of high school, but they have solid reasons for doing so. The NCAA prioritizes the athlete's well-being in the rules and regulations they create. Before we review why they limit coach communication let's cover who makes up the NCAA and the organization's goals.

Who is the NCAA: The NCAA is a member organization. Representatives of stakeholders (listed below) from all facets of college athletics meet in committees that suggest and approve the governing rules. These rules range from recruiting and compliance to academic standards and rules of competition.

NCAA Representatives:
  • Coaches
  • Athletic Directors
  • Conference Staff
  • Academic Support Personnel
  • College Athletes
  • University Presidents
  • Other Stakeholders

The Goal of the NCAA: The NCAA has the difficult job of balancing the "amateurism and commercial activities" of college sports. In all that they do, they try to maximize the benefit to the student-athlete. On their own website, they frame their purpose as, "prioritizing academics, well-being and fairness so college athletes can succeed on the field, in the classroom and for life."

Why They Limit Coach Communication: In short, the NCAA wants to protect high school athletes from the recruiting process during the early years of high school. College athletics is competitive and the recruiting process continues to creep earlier and earlier. We know of college coaches that have a list of eighth graders they are actively tracking. You've probably heard of freshman and sophomores committing to schools. The NCAA wants to prevent this creeping to allow athletes to enjoy high school without the stress of the recruiting process. If they didn't limit coaches from reaching out to young athletes, coaches would call and email athletes in middle school if it meant they could get a lead in the recruiting battle.

In summary, the NCAA is a membership organization made up of representatives from all facets of college athletics. Their goal is to promote fairness and academics for the student athlete. They limit coaching contact to protect high school athletes from being bombarded with communication too early in high school.

Why Would A Coach Not Respond

As a high school athlete, it might be difficult to understand why a college coach wouldn't respond to your email. Long story short, there are many reasons and most of them have nothing to do with you. We'll cover a few reasons why a coach might not respond to your email.

They Aren't Allowed: Not to belabor the points we've already made, but if you are before the dates above, a coach isn't responding because they aren't allowed to.

Busy Schedules: College coaches are busy people. They have many responsibilities that they have to manage. It's not uncommon for coaches to make appearances at multiple meetings a day just to shake hands as a spokesman for their college or university. Some coaches teach classes in addition to their coaching responsibilities. Whatever it may be, coaches are juggling a lot.

Lots of Email: Coaches are university/college employees and college email accounts receive a lot of email. Once you set foot on campus, you'll see just how much email you get that you wished you didn't. Your email could have been buried in their inbox below all this "junk" mail. Also, since it's no secret that email is one of the best strategies for connecting with a coach, high school athletes email coaches all the time. It might be that you aren't getting through to the coach because you aren't sending quality emails that set you apart from the emails they receive from other high school athletes.

Bad With Technology: Let's face it, coaches are often old school, no nonsense people. We know of multiple coaches that don't manage their own email accounts. It could be that you aren't hearing back from a coach because they aren't up to speed with the digital age and they are just bad with technology. As hard as it is to believe, it's true.

Not interested: Last, but not least. This possibility can be a hard pill to swallow, but if you've strategically reached out to a coach many times providing value along the way and you haven't received any type of response, then that coach might not be interested in you as a candidate for their program. Since it is very difficult to know if a coach is not responding to you because they are not interested, you should not give up until you know for sure that you are out of the running.

If you send an email to a coach and you don't hear back, don't worry. It can take multiple emails to get through to a coach. Just be sure to purposefully follow up to any email you send in order to give a coach multiple opportunities to notice you.

Things To Keep In Mind

You Aren't Limited: Remember, the NCAA only limits the coach's ability to contact the athlete. You are never limited in your ability to reach out to a coach. Take advantage of this and reach out to them as soon as you know you want to play at the next level.

Coaches Can Communicate Indirectly: Even if you are before the open contact period, college coaches can still communicate with you indirectly through your high school, club or AAU coach. This route takes more time, so be patient.

Enforcement: If a communication infraction occurs, the NCAA will never punish the student athlete. Their rules restrict coach communication and they will hold the coach responsible for breaking the rules. So reach out to college coaches confidently.

In-Person Communication Is Different: The NCAA has different rules about in-person communication than it does about communication over the phone, text or email. Be sure you know the specific dates of when you are allowed to communicate in-person with a college coach.

Build Relationships: Your goal throughout the recruiting process should be to build relationships with college coaches. You will not receive a scholarship the first time you email a coach. Instead, you need to have smaller goals for each time you email a coach and build upon those goals over time. Be purposeful in your communication and have a reason for every touch-point with a college coach.