Two rules have been changed since May of 2018 that will have a strong bearing on recruiting going forward. One pushed the unofficial visit time date to junior year while the other moved forward the official visit to the athlete’s junior year. The NCAA has claimed this rule change was meant to mimic the rest of the student bodies experience.

Unofficial Visits: September 1st of Junior Year.

The first and most damaging is that coaches are not allowed to have unofficial visits with athletes until September 1st of their junior year. Prior to this, coaches could meet sophomores on campus and discuss their program. This makes recruiting more challenging since competitive athletes have substantially less time to travel when they compete or train year round.

What is the best way to learn about a program before September 1 of your junior year?

Do your research. Follow their instagram and social media accounts and their team site. This is an easy way to learn about their program and understand their culture as a whole.

Take this time to understand the difference between DI,DII and DIII and the scope of the DI. DI is able to provide scholarships to athletes and they require a substantial amount of time in comparison to DII and DIII. However, within DI teams, they can range substantially as well. Any team in the Top 15 at NCAAs is going to require the majority of your time in college. If you are more interested in academics than rowing, check out the CRCA Scholar-Athlete Awards. Athletes must have a 3.5 or higher A high number of athletes can tell you where the priority of the team may be in respect to academics and rowing.

With these new rule changes, the best time to visit a school for an unofficial visit that works with your schedule is the winter between Late January and Early March. Even if a team is on the ergs, it can tell you so much about the program, the staff and the culture of the team. It is important to see how a team handles an erg day because it speaks volumes about where the program wants to go. Not only that, it is a great way for you to see erg times and see where you may fit in.

Official Visits: September 1st of Junior Year.

Prior to this year, official visits were only allowed to occur after September 1 of a recruit’s senior year. This rule change predominately helps other sports who make verbal commitments with athletes at a much younger age. Rowers tend to establish themselves as talents at the end of their sophomore year and through their junior year. Because of this, most schools, I assume, will not significantly change their official visit style. The top 15 teams in the NCAA will most likely begin to use official visits for the Top 40 recruits. High schoolers who are already sub 7:25 for females may start getting official visit offers. Major state universities and some of the Ivys who tend to recruit foreign rowers will most likely use this time to get these students on campus. However, college teams are just as busy as you are doing your spring season so it is unlikely there will be many official visits occurring past the first weekend of April.

This means you have to learn more about these programs sooner and do your research about the school themselves. Don’t wait for the coach to answer all your questions.

Litigation in Boston over Harvard’s admissions process reveals multitude of factors that determine whether a candidate is admitted.

“Underwhelming personalities can even undermine the prospects of elite athletes. Exhibit A: the case of a woman who’d been recruited for the Harvard crew team, whose documented lack of “spark or enthusiasm or any particularly compelling or appealing quality” torpedoed her admissions chances.” Boston Globe Metro 10/28/2018

Official visit 101

Official visits can be stressful. Most students are traveling further from home perhaps alone for the first time in their lives to impress coaches and find the right school for them. Here are some critical tips you may not think of to help you during your 48 hours on campus. Remember, it is an interview! 


Outside of drinking and partying on your visit, nothing will end your recruitment to a school like falling asleep on a launch. 

Do your research.

Know where the team finished last year in their conference. Ask a coach how they felt about last years results and about this years chances. Asking what last years results were will suggest you are not serious about the school or rowing for the team long term. Also be prepared to answer “why are you interested in ______ University?”  you need to know about the school as well. 

Your host is as important as the coaches 

Coaches always speak to a host athlete after an official visit about their recruit to get a thumbs up or learn of any potential red flags. All behavior is discussed, for example I once had a recruit who made the athlete late for practice and spent time talking about the other schools she would rather go to. I ended communication with her after that weekend. You don’t have to be best friends, but know a bad review from from your host can end your recruitment.

Your host is not there to singularly entertain you. Some hosts may want to show off the school and bring you around the college town or the area but they are not obliged to. Some have work or group projects or tests so be prepared to potentially sit around. It is a part of being a college student.

Plan ahead.

Bring proper clothing to sit on a launch. Check the weather, bring extra layers. If it is in the 60s during the day, a morning practice will be below 50 and sitting on a launch is an extra 10 degrees colder.

Watch what you eat with the coaches.

If you are sharing a meal with the coaches be smart. If you are being recruited as a women’s lightweight, coaches can worry about anorexia so if you order a salad and eat three bites of it that is a red flag to coaches. If you are a heavy openweight or lightweight ordering a hamburger and fries also suggests you aren’t taking being an athlete seriously. 

Make things easy on the coaches.

Don’t miss your flight or check bags or be wishy washy with plans. Coaches are planning 30 or more of these for 4-5 weekends,  the easier you make it for them by sending all the details needed shows you are smart and organized. 

Coaches need the following for official visit paperwork:

  • NCAA number
  • Picture of your SAT or ACT score with your name in the image
  • Up to date high school transcript

Coaches will also want the following details to organize your trip and itinerary:

  • Flight/train number and your arrival and departure times
  • Classes you are interested in
  • If you have allergies or health issues, tell the coaches ahead of time so your hosts can adjust. A lot of athletes eat peanut butter before practice so if you are allergic it is good to know.

Prepare goals.

Every single coach will ask you about your short term and long term goals. Have a goal for your senior spring and a goal for your time at that university for both a 2k and boatings. Coaches can tell you if it is realistic to compete at that on the team or what it takes at that level. Do not make your goal 5 seconds faster than your high school PR. You may not be able to imagine yourself just yet at sub 7:10 but coaches want to hear that you want to try to get there. Coaches don’t want to have to convince you to go fast.