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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Campus Visits 101 – What are official and unofficial visits?

Rick Allen        
One of the most important decisions that a college athlete recruit will make is which college scholarship offer to accept. The best way to learn about a college or university and the baseball program, that you are interested in or that that is recruiting you, is to visit campus. From the standpoint of NCAA rules, there are two types of visits: “official” and “unofficial”. This article will discuss both, the differences and the rules for each.

Unofficial Visits

Any time an athlete visits campus with parents or other family members, or with some of their friends, at their own expense, this is an “unofficial” visit. Some facts about unofficial visits: 

a. Must be made at prospect’s expense
b. University can provide up to 3 complimentary admissions to campus athletic event
c. No limit on number of unofficial visits
d. Cannot visit campus during a dead period – a period of time in which the NCAA will not allow any contact between the coach and a recruit.
e. Cannot participate in tryout during unofficial visit (Division I)

Official Visits

Official visits are highly regulated by NCAA rules. During an official visit to an NCAA institution, it is permissible for the institution to provide a prospect with transportation to visit the campus, and with meals and lodging during a visit to campus that cannot exceed 48 hours from the time that the prospect (and parents or legal guardians, if they accompany the prospect) arrives on campus.

Large universities with ample recruiting budgets may provide all of the permissible expenses that they are permitted to provide. However, some institutions, especially smaller colleges or universities with limited recruiting budgets, may only provide meals while on campus, or meals and lodging for just one night instead of two.

Some important points to know about official visits include:

a. Cannot be made prior to first day of classes for senior year of HS
b. Limit of 5 official visits, only one per school (even if 2-sport athlete)
c. Cannot visit campus during a dead period
d. Must be registered with Eligibility Center
e. Must provide HS transcript and ACT or SAT test score to university
f. University can provide transportation, meals, lodging for prospect
g. University can provide meals and lodging to parents, also transportation if traveling together in car with prospect
h. Phone call rules prior to visit (unlimited during 5 days prior to visit)
i. 48-hr. rule from time of arrival on campus
j. Will visit interfere with prospect’s competition?
k. Can combine two visits into one trip with assistance of schools.
l. Cannot participate in tryout during official visit (Division I)

This article has addressed the difference between official and unofficial visits and outlined the rules for each. However, knowing the rules is only the starting point.

Many parents and athletes are so excited and happy about being noticed and recruited, that they often forget the ONE THING that is vital to their future success and happiness playing the sport they love at the level they aspire. That one thing is proper preparation for the visit!

The visit, whether official or unofficial, is extremely important and should be treated as you would a job interview. Proper preparation is essential for you to make sure you have the information to help your son or daughter make the very best decision for them.

If you have questions about this topic or any other issues related to recruiting, eligibility, financial aid or transfer issues, please go to and register for our free newsletter, or contact Rick Allen at 918-994-7271 or Rick, a former NCAA Compliance Officer, has over 20 years of experience in NCAA rules at the college level and is also the parent of a college baseball player who was recruited at the Division I level.
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