One of the most important things you can do as a family is to educate yourselves on how the recruiting process works. Here's a list of common recruiting terms that can help clarify the many aspects of recruiting.

Calendars - Coaches and their associates are restricted to certain times during the year when they can contact players, and in what way this contact is made. Calendar dates include contact periods, dead periods, evaluation periods and quiet periods.

Combines - Combines are a camp or clinic where players perform various physical exercises to rate their physical fitness.

Commitment - An oral or verbal commit is a non-binding agreement between a student-athlete and prospective school. While it is tentatively understood that the student-athlete will accept the scholarship offer and attend the school, he/she is free to explore offers with other institutions until a letter of commitment has been signed.

Contact Period-During a contact period a college coach may have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, watch student-athletes compete and visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents.


Core Courses- Students must complete 16 core courses.  10 of these courses must be completed before the seventh semester of high school, with grades being locked in after that time (students cannot retake for the possibility of a better score).

Core courses include:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of math
  • Two years of natural/physical science
  • Two years of social science
  • One additional year of English, math, or science
  • Four years of additional courses including any of the above, foreign language, or religion/philosophy


Dead Period- During a dead period a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools. Coaches may write and telephone student-athletes or their parents during a dead period.


Early Action- Nonbinding plan that allows an athlete to submit his or her application in early fall. The college lets the student know whether he or she is accepted by early January, but the student has the right to wait until May 1 before responding. This gives a student-athlete time to compare colleges, including financial aid offers, before making a final decision.


Early Decision- A binding agreement whereby a student-athlete accepts an offer prior to National Letter of Intent Day. A student can apply Early Decision to only one college.  A student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college.


Eligibility Center/Clearing House- The NCAA Eligibility Center is the first step in the recruitment process. The Eligibility Center handles all inquiries regarding an individual's initial-eligibility status. The Eligibility Center also maintains and processes all of the initial eligibility certifications.


Equivalency Sports- Programs that fall into this category – all sports other than men’s basketball, women’s basketball, football, women’s gymnastics, women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball – can offer full or partial scholarships.


Evaluation- This is the process where a coach watches you compete in a game or practice, and makes note on your athletic abilities.


Evaluation Period - During an evaluation period a college coach may watch college-bound student-athletes compete, visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents. However, a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents off the college’s campus during an evaluation period.


Full Ride- These are the most coveted type of scholarships, and full-rides don’t just cover tuition and fees. They also provide funding for books, supplies, room and board, and possibly even additional living expenses. These are most common in Division I athletics, but still quite rare.

Grayshirt -  A term used to describe a student-athlete who delays initial enrollment in a collegiate institution to the winter or spring term. Gray-shirting usually occurs when a student-athlete is injured before the start of the academic year, forgoes classes and practice to join the team once he/she has recuperated.

Head Count Sports- A college team is restricted in the number of athletes that can be on scholarship. They can’t divide that money up to give half scholarships to more athletes. Head count scholarship sports are Football (FBS only), Basketball (DI men’s and women’s), Tennis (DI women only), Gymnastics (DI women only) and Volleyball (DI women only).


Merit Scholarship- Division III doesn’t actually award athletic scholarships, but that shouldn’t stop prospective student athletes from applying to one of the more than 450 excellent colleges and universities in this grouping. While they may not receive that particular type of funding, more than 75 percent of all student athletes at Division III schools are awarded a merit scholarship for academic achievement or receive financial aid.


National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics- The NAIA functions in much the same way as Division II of the NCAA in that it is comprised of athletic programs from smaller colleges and universities. This organization is popular for international students hoping to play in America as there are fewer restrictions than in the NCAA.

National Collegiate Athletic Association- The NCAA regulates the athletes of the 1,281 member institutions. Under the umbrella of the NCAA are three divisions (1, 2, and 3) which are determined by the size of the school and its budget.


National Junior College Athletic Association- The NJCAA exclusively organizes athletic programs for two-year institutions. Although the smallest of the associations, students who elect to play sports at an NJCAA school often benefit from lower tuition rates, an opportunity to better their grades in order to gain more scholarship funding, and the option to transfer to an NCAA or NAIA school after two years


National letter of intent (NLI) - An official agreement between a student-athlete and a prospective school stating the agreement to attend that institution for one academic year in exchange for athletics aid. Once a student-athlete has signed with a prospective school, he/she can no longer be contacted by prospective schools for recruitment.


National Signing Day- The first Wednesday in February is the official signing day for high school football. Following this date, student-athletes may sign letters of intent with prospective schools to attend that institution for one academic year in exchange for athletics aid.


Official Visit- Official visits include any visit to a prospective school by a student-athlete paid for by the school. Official visits include schools paying for transportation, room and meals and entertainment.  Recruits are allowed up to 5 official visits to Division 1 and/or Division 2 levels and you can only take one visit, per school.


Partial Scholarship- Partial scholarships cover a portion of expenses – most commonly starting with tuition and fees – but students will still need to pay for a portion of their education. They are typically allocated based on a set percentage and are commonly found in Division II athletics.


Perspective Student Athlete- A student who has started classes for the ninth grade. In addition, a student who has not started classes for the ninth grade becomes a prospective student-athlete if the institution provides such an individual (or the individual's relatives or friends) any financial assistance or other benefits that the institution does not provide to prospective students generally.


Quiet Period- During a quiet period, a college coach may only have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents on the college’s campus.  A coach may not watch student-athletes compete (unless a competition occurs on the college’s campus) or visit their high schools. Coaches may write or telephone college-bound student-athletes or their parents during this time.


Recruit- A student-athlete is considered a recruit when he/she engages in off-campus, in-person contact with a coach; receives a telephone call from a coach more than once; is issued a National Letter of Intent from a prospective school; or makes an official visit to a prospective school.


Redshirt- Also known as a "Fifth Year Senior," redshirt refers to a student-athlete who extends four seasons of play over five years. A redshirt player typically sits out of games for a season, while still attending practices and classes. A redshirt season typically occurs during your freshman year or when a season is cut short due to injury.


Sliding Scale- Division I and Division 2 uses a sliding scale to match SAT/ACT scores and core-course grade-point averages to determine eligibility. The sliding scale balances your test score with your GPA. If you have a low-test score, you need a higher GPA to be eligible. If you have a low GPA, you need a higher test score to be eligible.


Telephone Call- An electronically transmitted voice exchange is considered a phone call. That includes videoconferencing and videophones. Emails and faxes are not considered a phone call.


Two-Year Tuition- Not all two-year institutions provide scholarships, but student athletes who complete the first half of their degrees in these schools before transferring to a four-year school can save thousands of dollars in tuition and fees, often without sacrificing their level of play. While only one percent of high school freshmen were recruited to play on DI basketball teams during the 2012-2013 academic year, transfer students made up 14.5 percent of recruits during the same time frame.


Unofficial Visits- These visits occur when student-athletes and their families pay their own expenses when visiting a prospective school, including transportation, room, meals and entertainment. if possible, families should avoid making these visits during a "dead period."


Walk On- This term refers to a student-athlete who plays and trains on a collegiate team without an athletic scholarship.