According to the voluminous NCAA rulebook (257 pages for DIII and 464 pages for DI), Sept. 1 is the first opportunity to contact juniors in high school, as the country’s 2023 lacrosse recruits found out last week. Prior to that, there can be no correspondence between a DI head coach and a PSA – that’s the lingo the NCAA uses to describe you, a prospective student-athlete.
Because DIII schools do not offer athletic scholarships, there is no such restriction on us. We can talk with you any time, except during an event. Now the rules are that we need to wait until after any contests, i.e. we are not going to chat you up during halftime of your high school game. This is the reason we may seem aloof when you see us walking around at a summer tournament. We are supposed to wait until the end of the day’s play to connect with you.
With the day now behind us, I want to reflect back on what Sept. 1 means and how it has changed the way college lacrosse recruiting works.
2023 Lacrosse Recruits Begin to Sign: A Coach’s Reflection
These rules and guidelines are usually edited and revised a little bit each year. For example, the rule about Sept. 1 of your junior year for DI was put in place a few years ago. Prior to that, eighth graders were making verbal commitments to DI programs.
Can you imagine? There is quite a bit of a physical and emotional development that happens between middle school and college. I am assuming only eighth graders with mustaches were the ones getting offers that early. Probably not too many late-bloomers getting athletic scholarship offers in middle school, or maybe even high school.
If the COVID disruption taught us anything, it is that many players do not look that smooth while they are growing, and that seniors in high school usually look pretty good compared to younger dudes.
With the current rules, a high school sophomore can be balling out at a showcase or tournament in the summer, and there may be DI coaches on the sidelines. The player sees the coach there, and then has to wait until Sept. 1 to find out if they were noticed (and impressive) or not.
Now that Sept. 1 has come and gone, the 2023 lacrosse recruits don’t have to live with that unknown.
This puts the player in a different state of mind. Add to that the rumors of this school or coach being interested, parents and fans fueling the rumors, and club coaches who can actually talk to the DI coaches about players … and you have a really intense scenario for a PSA.
So, there is a lot of pressure on a kid (aka PSAs), and right now it’s time for the 2023 lacrosse recruits to feel it. I have known kids who had more than a dozen coaches contact them at midnight on Sept. 1 – yes, midnight on a school night when most kids get up at 6:30 a.m. or so to get their school day going.
This is crazy, because we know that sleep and hydration are really important for athletes to perform at their peak. This is why I chose to text (not call) the handful of recruits I connected with this week. I did wait up to midnight to do it (way past my bedtime), so we would be in the mix with any other correspondence these very special PSAs received.
As I am writing this, my phone is blowing up with all our family members congratulating my niece for committing to a DI school for lacrosse. She is starting her senior year in high school and has worked very hard to accomplish this. She kept playing, training, studying, and working for this opportunity even when she didn’t get as much correspondence as she would have liked last year at this time.
Whether you got some correspondence this week or not, your college search belongs to you. Make the very most of it, keep playing, and keep having fun.
Let’s see how the Class of 2023 lacrosse recruits gets on now than their excitement has begun.