On Mar. 12, 2020, the sports world was shocked to hear of the official cancellation of spring sports seasons by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) which forced all youth sports programs to do the same, causing collegiate coaches to find new ways of recruiting for their prospect players.
Depending on the season of the sport, different coaches scout and recruit at different times of the school year. However, the NCAA has recently placed several restrictions on when coaches can contact and see prospective players in the wake of the virus outbreak.
According to Jackie Boswell, Stevenson University head women’s basketball coach, she and her coaching staff are trying to rely on technology to reach out to recruits, but NCAA restrictions actually prohibit more than most realize. “We can use meeting technology to talk face to face, one-on-one, but we cannot hold group sessions on these kinds of technology platforms, which is limiting,” said Boswell.
Although the women’s basketball season was able to complete their 2019-2020 season, the spring and summer are prime time for recruiting, with the beginning of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) season for high school athletes. With the pandemic, coaches are unable to visit recruits during actual games as the AAU has decided to extend their temporary suspension of their licensed events through April 30.
The AAU holds a large majority of prospective student-athletes events around the country, offering sports including baseball, basketball, football, volleyball and track & field. However, the system of recruiting is different when looking at spring semester sports, such as softball and lacrosse. Spring sports coaches were able to do a little bit of recruiting before the NCAA-issued restrictions, although a lot of their recruiting will be less from high school athletes and more from college seniors looking to enter the transfer portal.
Stevenson’s head softball coach, Julia Culotta, said, “I am looking at any returners that use the NCAA waiver for an extra year, including seniors, as icing on the best cake I have ever seen.” With the NCAA’s decision to give spring athletes another year of collegiate eligibility, more coaches will go on the same recruiting path as Culotta, looking for college seniors – transfers or those already on their team – to return for their new senior season.
“We have a great group of freshmen coming in 2020 for whom most of their senior high schools’ season have been canceled, too. We now all share this common gap: pain, hurt…and hopefully, this will unite us,” said Culotta.
COVID-19 has changed the lives of nearly everyone, and through this, it has changed the system of recruiting for coaches all around the United States. At every division in the NCAA, coaches are searching for creative ways to find and recruit prospective athletes for their programs for the upcoming school year.