HUNTINGTON — Virtual team meetings have become the norm this spring with players and coaches interacting to set up a game plan for the 2020 season as best they can.
Now, with newly approved NCAA recruiting regulations, coaches and players will be teaming up virtually in the recruiting world as well.
That announcement came Wednesday afternoon as the NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee announced the new regulations, as well as the approval of three blanket waivers requested by Division I conferences last month.
Earlier this spring, the NCAA announced an increase to eight hours for current student-athletes to participate in athletics-related activities, which allowed more time for virtual meetings and preparation.
As of Wednesday, that eight hours is also allowed to include current student-athletes participating in recruiting calls with coaches, which is an unprecedented move.
Typically, the spring is a major recruiting time of year with Division I coaches setting official visits so that prospects can see campuses and get to know potential future teammates to make the best decision regarding their futures.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, those visits have not been able to take place, so the NCAA softened some of its recruiting legislation to allow for a full recruiting experience for prospective student-athletes.
The time spent on recruiting calls, however, will count toward the eight hours per week for current student-athletes.
In addition to allowing student-athletes to be involved in recruiting calls, the NCAA announced Wednesday that, starting Monday, any school staff member may participate in recruiting calls between a countable coach and a recruit. Previously, only coaches were able to speak by phone or video call with prospects.
The NCAA has instituted a dead period through the end of May to protect the health, safety and well-being of coaches, prospects and their families, so Wednesday’s move helps to offset the difficulties brought about with that dead period.
Also on Wednesday, the NCAA announced that it will decide on May 13 whether to extend that recruiting dead period through the end of June.
Given Wednesday’s decision to open current student-athletes up to aid in recruiting, the anticipation is that the dead period will be extended.
These provisions involving current student-athletes and recruiting are only applicable during that dead period — whether it ends at the end of May or if the NCAA extends it through June.
The recruiting aspects were only part of the important topics covered by Wednesday’s meeting with the Division I Council.
The group also approved three blanket waivers requested by Division I conferences last month, which will aid in several difficulties posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Most notably, member schools will be allowed to provide less than the current Division I minimum in financial aid requirements. However, the waiver does not give relief from other financial aid stipulations in regard to commitments to current or prospective student-athletes.
Another waiver approved involved allowing basketball and football student-athletes to participate in summer athletics activities without being enrolled in summer school. This enables players to participate in team meetings even if they have opted not to take online classes this summer.
Lastly, reclassifying schools count as Division I opponents in the first year of their reclassification process, regardless of whether or not they meet those scheduling requirements.
Another major aspect involving prospects includes their ability for committed prospects to participate in virtual team activities after completion of all academic requirements for graduation or transfer to a Division I school.
As May begins, that is especially important because many high school athletes and junior college players were expected to join their respective teams for summer sessions, starting in late May and early June. Now, those athletes do not have to wait until on-campus activities return.