What Does It Mean When A College Coach Invites You To A Game?
The recruiting process is a complicated one, and if you are the parent of an athlete or an athlete yourself, you may be confused about what it means when a college coach invites you to attend a game.
If you have been personally invited by a coach to attend a sporting event, you are being offered to take an official visit at that university. Any visit as a high school athlete to a college campus paid for by the university is considered an official visit. Visits that are paid for by student-athletes or their parents are referred to as unofficial visits. Official visits are common on all levels of college athletics (D1, D2, and D3) and indicate that you are being actively recruited by a university.
While at any level of college athletics athletes take official visits, it’s important to note that they aren’t all conducted in the same fashion. Each visit will have its own quirks in order to try appealing more to the athlete. The most important thing however, is to try to learn as much as possible from it. Below is a more in-depth analysis regarding the specific NCAA official visit regulations, some tips on how to prepare before going on your official visit, a guide as to what actually happens on your visit, and a deeper explanation of what it actually means to be offered to go on an official visit.
What Exactly Does An Official Visit Mean?
You may be wondering, why am I taking an official visit to a school that hasn’t even offered me a scholarship? Well, an official visit is only a step below being offered a scholarship. Being taken on an official visit shows that a coach is serious about you becoming a part of the team.
To further this point, athletic programs themselves only have a limited amount of official visits that they are allowed to use, so logically, why would they waste an official visit on a player that they weren’t tentatively planning on offering a scholarship. The majority of the time an athlete goes on an official visit without receiving a scholarship offer yet, they will receive one on the visit.
Make sure you do however discuss this with the coaching staff as much as possible before taking an official visit. It’s important to know where you stand in terms of being offered a scholarship. Occasionally, a coach may try and convince you to join the team as a walk-on to save a scholarship. Make sure you have a decent understanding of where you stand in terms of getting an offer so that you aren’t blindsided during your official visit if your coach asks if you would consider being a preferred walk-on.
What Happens During Your Visit
Campus Tour: Official visits are different at every school but in general they serve to help you get a feel for the school and what life would be like on campus if you were to attend for the next four years. School’s will most likely take you on a campus tour to help you know the locations of certain buildings and landmarks as well as understand your way around.
Meet Teammates: A huge part of an official visit is meeting teammates. Coaches want you to meet teammates to make an early relationship with them as well as ensure that you will mesh well with them. This meeting is a great time to ask a couple of those questions you wrote down and to get to know them a bit better.
Sit In On A Class: Whatever sport you play, it’s important to keep in mind that school is still the priority. You have to maintain a specific GPA to remain eligible, therefore, it is very critical to your success as an athlete as well. Something you may want to do on an official visit is sit in on a class or go to the library. Getting a feel for the academic side of the university is very important, as there is a lot of time to be spent performing academic tasks outside of your sport as well!
Explore: Simply hang around the campus. Try and form a relationship with a couple of players on the team, and possibly go out to eat with them or just walk around at some point. Let them show you around and tell you the in’s and out’s of campus and everything it has to offer. While campus tours are extremely helpful, an hour-long university led tour hardly compares to guidance from a prospective fellow teammate.
What To Do Before Your Visit
Register With The NCAA Eligibility Center: Before any official visit, one of the most important things to do is register yourself with the NCAA Eligibility Center. When a coach is actively recruiting you, they want you to play, making your eligibility critical. If you are being recruited on the D1 or D2 level, this registration also coincides with the creation of a Certification Account. If you are being recruited at the D3 level, the creation of a NCAA Profile Page is the free alternative to a Certification Account. This process should occur within your sophomore year of high school so as to be ready to begin taking visits during your junior year.
Request To Be Placed On The Institutional Request List: Another important step in the process leading up to your official visit is requesting that the coach place you on the Institutional Request List. Being on the IRL assures that your application with the NCAA Eligibility Center will be cleared quickly, making you eligible as soon as possible.
Send Your Transcript And Test Scores To The Admissions Office: This step is only important if you have not already registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center. If you haven’t, sending your transcript and test scores will allow coaches to know whether or not you are up to the academic standards that they prefer, and possibly make them more inclined to send you home with an offer.
Prepare For The Official Visit: An official visit is the perfect time to learn as much as you can about the university itself, as well as the athletic program. Before taking an official visit, make sure to do some research and at least have a working foundational knowledge of the school. One suggestion would be to create a list of questions that you want to ask either the coaches or players. This experience is all about learning so being prepared will only better your understanding in the end. Another extremely important thing to think about before taking an official visit is what to do if you are offered a scholarship while the visit is ongoing. Remember, this is an extremely important decision in your life and it’s important to take time to properly think it through. Make sure not to jump the gun and properly evaluate the schools recruiting you, and choose the one that best fits you.
NCAA Official Visit Regulations
Amount Of Visits: While all levels of college athletic programs (D1, D2, and D3) offer athletes the opportunity to take official visits, the NCAA has in place certain regulations regarding when and how often students can go on them. If you are a division one athletic recruit, you are able to go on up to 5 official visits to schools that you are being recruited by, but are confined to only one visit per school. Conversely, if you are being recruited at either the division two or division three level, you are able to take an unlimited amount of official visits, but again you must only visit each school one time.
Visit Expenses: The NCAA has very strict regulations in regards to what each school is allowed to pay for throughout the duration of your official visit. According to NCAA rules, a university is only allowed to pay for transportation both to and from campus, lodging throughout your visit’s duration, three meals per day, and three tickets to a home sporting event. If your parents are also attending the official visit and are riding in the same car as you, then their transportation is covered by the university. However, if they need an individual plane ticket or any individual transportation in general, they are responsible for paying for it. It is necessary for universities to abide by these regulations closely, as failure to comply may result in future NCAA sanctions. All this being said, the financing of official visits is all based on the maximum amount that schools are allowed to pay for. Depending on the level of the program, they may cover the cost for the expenses above, or may only finance roughly half of the visit.
Length And Time Of Visit: An official visit is not allowed to span over 48 hours or the duration of a weekend. Along with this, official visits aren’t allowed to occur during recruiting ‘dead’ periods. These ‘dead’ periods occur at different times for different sports, but entail no face-to-face communication with coaches or a coach’s attendance of a high school athlete’s sporting events.
Things To Keep In Mind
As a parent or student, there are a few things to keep in mind about going on an official visit.
Financial Awareness: If your parents plan on attending the official visit, make sure they are aware of the costs associated, as NCAA rules prohibit schools from paying for certain things on official visits. Making sure your parents understand what is paid for and what isn’t, will relieve a lot of stress and make the visit much more enjoyable.
Come Prepared: Make sure you complete all of the logistics before taking an official visit. Fill out all of the required eligibility paperwork mentioned earlier and ensure that you will be an eligible athlete. Alongside this, make sure you yourself come prepared. It’s important to do some research and write down a couple of questions so that you can get the most out of this experience.
Have Fun: An official visit it all about you! It’s a celebration of all the hard work that you have put in over the years to get to this point. Make sure to meet as many people and learn as much as you can so that hopefully you can find the place you want to call “home” for the next four years. Enjoy the red carpet treatment while you can!