Rules & Regulations

Rules and Regulations

During the recruiting process, as well as any subsequent participation in collegiate athletics, there are rules and regulations that college coaches and student-athletes must adhere to. These rules and regulations dictate the extent of coach and player communication, the number of hours of athletic participation, and the financial aid a student-athlete can receive, among many other things.

Applying to US Colleges:

  • Register with the Eligibility Centre

The foremost priority of all aspiring student-athletes should be registering with the appropriate Eligibility Centre (NCAA or NAIA). The registration process will require a complete athletic and academic history; including providing a comprehensive list of all sporting teams and supplying high school transcripts from the final four years of high school.


The Eligibility Centre will determine if the prospective student-athlete complies with all eligibility and amateurism requirements. Each student-athlete will receive an ID number, which will be required throughout the recruitment process. Student-athletes will also be issued with a final amateurism certification from the Eligibility Centre, before being permitted to engage in any college competition.

  • Deferring Enrolment in a U.S. College

All prospective student-athletes are given a grace period that allows the student-athlete to defer enrolment in a university whilst continuing to participate in organised competition. The grace period commences once the student-athlete graduates from high school. For the majority of college sports, the grace period is 12 months. However, some sports have only a 6 month grace period. At the conclusion of the grace period, the student-athlete must either initially enroll in a US college or cease any participation in organised competition.

Note: the 5-year athletic clock starts once you enroll as a full-time student in any US college or university. All student-athletes have 5 consecutive calendar years, in which to complete their 4 years of eligible college athletic participation.

Communicating with Potential Coaches:

Collegiate athletics has strict rules of communication that both coaches and prospective student-athletes must abide by in creating an equitable recruiting environment. Specifically, the NCAA enforces rules that determine who may be involved in the recruiting process, when recruiting may occur, and the conditions under which recruiting may be conducted.

  • Who May Be Involved in the Recruiting Process

The recruit (aspiring student-athlete) and the coach will be the most prominent people involved in the recruiting process. College coaches will also accommodate the recruit’s parents, as the recruit may still be a minor upon initial contact and require a legal guardian present. However, regardless of age, the parents will ultimately contribute to the recruit’s college decision, and therefore they are often heavily involved in the recruiting process.

A recruit may also engage a recruitment agency, such as Aussie Athletes Agency, to provide assistance throughout the US college recruiting process. There are strict regulations that determine the extent to which an athletic recruitment agency can operate, ensuring the pursuit of an equitable recruiting environment continues. Whilst a recruitment agency is permitted to assist with contacting coaches and marketing the aspiring student-athlete, the agency cannot negotiate a scholarship offer on behalf of the recruit. Therefore, the student-athlete recruit will remain the prominent person in contact with college coaches throughout the entire recruiting process, even when a recruitment agency is involved.

  • When Recruiting May Occur

The NCAA established recruiting calendars that are divided into contact, evaluation, quiet, and dead periods. Each period in the calendar is bound by different regulations. For example: a coach may communicate face to face during a contact period, but not during an evaluation period. These recruiting calendars define certain time periods in which recruiting may or may not occur for each particular sport.

Note: College coaches are not permitted to approach a prospective student-athlete prior to the 1st of September, of the student-athlete’s junior year in high school.

For international students, this distinction is complicated, as the US and Australian school systems are contradictory.

However, there is no specified date that regulates when a student-athlete can contact a college coach. Therefore if the student-athlete initiates contact, player/coach communication allowably commences much earlier than the final two years of high school.

  • Conditions Under Which Recruiting May Be Conducted

In addition to when a coach may contact you, the NCAA regulates how they communicate with you. Emails, phone calls, and video conferencing are all controlled by NCAA recruiting regulations.

– Emails between coaches and players are allowed, provided there are no audio or visual attachments contained in the email.

– Phone calls and video conferencing are considered to be the same form of communication, due to voice exchange. The restrictions on phone calls are dependent on the student-athlete’s school age, and the sport they play.


Official & Unofficial College Visits:

Prospective student-athletes are entitled to visit potential colleges and universities prior to committing to a particular sporting program. These visits are categorised as official or unofficial, depending on the university’s financial investment in the student-athlete’s visit.

Any visit to a college campus by a college-bound student-athlete or their parents that is paid for by the college is considered an official visit. Visits paid for by college-bound student-athletes or their parents are considered unofficial visits.

  • Official Visit: occurs during or after the senior year of high school. The college can pay for transportation to and from the college for the prospect, lodging, and three meals per day for the prospect and the parent, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses including three tickets to a home sports event.
  • Unofficial Visit: occurs prior to the senior year of high school. The only expenses a college-bound student-athlete may receive from a college during an unofficial visit are three tickets to a home sports event.

Each aspiring student-athlete is only allowed 5 official visits to various universities. The NCAA records your ID number and monitors the number of visits each student has taken.


Student-Athlete Scholarships:

  • National Letter of Intent

The National Letter of Intent marks the culmination of the recruiting process. Once a student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent with the college of their choice, other schools are prohibited from recruiting that athlete.

After searching for universities, and negotiating scholarship availability, a college-bound student-athlete will verbally commit to the college athletic program they wish to join. All of this takes place prior to signing the National Letter of Intent. It is a binding contractual agreement between a prospective student-athlete and the college institution.

– A prospective student-athlete agrees to attend an institution full-time for one academic year. (Applies to NCAA Division I and II)

– The institution agrees to provide athletic financial aid for one academic year, with the condition that the student-athlete is admitted to the school and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules.

The National Letter of Intent is voluntary, and no prospective student-athlete is required to take part in the signing process. To learn more, visit

  • Additional Financial Aid & Employment

Any additional financial aid that a collegiate student-athlete receives must be reported to the athletic department of the university they attend. It is permissible to receive financial assistance from natural or legal guardians, as well as scholarship money that has been awarded on a basis other than athletic ability.

Student-athlete employment is also permissible. Any financial earnings are exempt from influencing the amount of athletic financial aid a student-athlete receives; provided that earnings are independent of athletic ability, and are based on a comparable rate, earned only for work that was actually completed.

  • Head-Count or Equivalency Sports

Athletic scholarships can be provided in full or divided partially between student-athletes, depending on the specific sport and the governing association.

– Head-Count sports – Each student who receives financial aid is provided with the actual cost of attendance as determined by the institution.

– Equivalency sports – Coaches are allowed to allocate different combinations of financial aid in various forms such as tuition, books, fees, housing costs, or meals.


Participating in US Collegiate Athletics:

  • Minimum Academic Requirements

All collegiate student-athletes are required to attend a minimum number of courses per semester and maintain a certain grade point average (GPA), to remain eligible for athletic participation.

– GPA of 2.0 or higher

– 12 class units per semester – full-time attendance

– Pass 9 units to remain eligible for athletic participation

  • Practice Hour Limitations

The NCAA enforces strict limitations that regulate the number of hours a student-athlete can participate in sport-related activity. Practice, weight lifting, conditioning, games, and scheduled meetings with coaches are countable within these NCAA regulations. Additional requirements such as study hall, compliance meetings, or travel time are not included in these hourly limits.

– 20 hours of practice per week during the athletic season

– 8 hours of practice per week during the off-season

– 4 hours a day, maximum practice time per day

– 1 day off per week

The NCAA implements hourly limitations to protect the interests of the student-athletes, ensuring that no student-athlete is overwhelmed by the requirements of their schooling and sporting commitments. All hours of athletic participation must be signed for by the student-athlete and their coach in compliance with NCAA regulations.


Student-Athlete Transfers:

  • Student-Athlete Release

A full-time student-athlete enrolled in a NCAA or NAIA institution will require “permission-to-contact” if they intend to transfer to another university. Permission-to-contact is a written letter from the director of the athletic department. A student-athlete without “permission-to-contact” from their current university will be restricted from discussing transfer opportunities with a new college coach.

If a request for permission-to-contact is denied, it does not prevent the student-athlete from transferring. However, if the new school is a NCAA Division I or II institution, the student-athlete cannot receive scholarship money until an academic year in residence has been completed. This requires the student-athlete to academically attend the new university for a full year, prior to commencing athletic participation.

A NCAA Division I or II student-athlete does not require “permission-to-contact” if they transfer to a university that is not a member of the NCAA or NAIA. Also a NCAA Division III student-athlete may issue a self-release, to allow another Division III school to contact you about transferring.


  • Transfer Exceptions

A one-time transfer exception applies when a student-athlete transfers from a four-year institution, and is eligible to immediately compete at the new university. The following conditions must be met in order to receive the one-time transfer exception:

– You are transferring to a Division II or III school, or you are transferring to a Division I school in specified sports

– You are academically and athletically eligible at your previous four-year school

– You receive a transfer-release agreement from your previous four-year school

  • Regulation Waivers

A waiver is a motion to preclude a NCAA rule due to a specific, extraordinary circumstance that has prevented a student-athlete from meeting the rule. A NCAA school may file a waiver on behalf of a student-athlete, and the conference office or NCAA administers the waiver.