INDIANAPOLIS – There are still many questions about how the coronavirus will affect the return of college sports. The pandemic is already impacting the way teams build for the future.
The NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee implemented a dead period on Division I recruiting that now extends through the end of July.
A dead period means coaches are not allowed to have face to face interactions with prospective athletes or their parents. They are, however, allowed to write letters and make phone calls.
“The extension maintains consistent recruiting rules for all sports and allows coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus,” Council chair M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement at the end of May.
Calhoun added that the council would reevaluate at the end of June or in early July.
At Purdue University, Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Babinski said the pandemic has presented unique challenges and promoted new ways of thinking. The Boilermakers are trying to look at the upside.
“There have been some positive elements of the new strategies that have allowed our coaches to connect more fully and build stronger relationships with prospective student-athletes and their families,” said Babinski.
He added that the school will likely implement some elements that are more efficient and less costly when they return to normal recruitment.
The dead period does not extend to Division II or Division III, but those schools have felt the impact of the pandemic nonetheless.
“It’s hard to find ways to be creative,” said Jennifer Myhre, Associate Athletic Director and Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Anderson University. “We host, you know, virtual sort of Zoom sessions with recruits coming in, and that’s been helpful that they can at least connect that way.”
The Division III school also holds virtual campus tours, but Myhre admits it is difficult to not see the prospective athletes in person. Right now, campus is closed.
She believes those most impacted may be rising high school juniors and seniors. Spring and summer are typically important times to evaluate student athletes and host on campus visits.
“How do you find those new players when you can’t really be out at events right now?” she asked.
Her advice to those concerned about missing an opportunity is to be proactive.
“Take time to still reach your schools. Still reach out to your coaches. Set up phone calls,” she said.
Another central Indiana Division III school said their programs are feeling the effects of the pandemic.
Matt Taney, the Director of Athletics and Campus Wellness at Wabash College said the pandemic has limited evaluation opportunity and placed a premium on communication.
“We highly value an education developed through meaningful, interpersonal connections at Wabash,” he said. “Conveying those values through less traditional platforms, such as Zoom, has required creativity and flexibility in our recruiting approach.”
Myhre said it’s important to keep in mind that athletes across the nation are in the same boat.
While things are up in the air, Myhre is working to keep her team connected and engaged as they wait and see what’s in store for this season. She tells them to be prepared for whatever comes next.