--- Change can be scary, but in many instances, change is necessary. Over the past several years the timeline of prospective student-athletes being recruited to play collegiate softball has gotten earlier and earlier. This month NCAA DI softball saw an 11-year-old commit to an institution that she won't compete for until 2025. Early recruiting is more pervasive in softball than any other NCAA Division I woman's sport with 38% of commitments being made prior to the 11th grade, 8% of those coming from those in 9th grade or younger.
The vast majority of student-athletes, parents, youth coaches as well as collegiate coaches, and even child psychologists agree, the practice of early recruiting is not beneficial or healthy for any of the parties involved. The legislation proposed by the NCAA Student-Athlete Experience Committee (SAEC) as well as recommendations for change to that legislation presented by the NFCA are on the docket to be voted on in mid-April by the NCAA.
Here at the NFCA we have heard many rumors regarding the legislation and it is our goal to ensure that accurate information is distributed to all of our members. You can find comprehensive information at the NFCA Early Recruiting Action Center. As for the most common myths, here there are:1. Prospective student-athletes who make a verbal commitment prior to the legislation being enacted will be permitted to continue speaking with the respective University's coaching staff.This is incorrect. Collegiate coaches will not be able to communicate with any prospective student-athlete, regardless of prior interest or commitment, until September 1st of the student-athlete's Junior Year.2. If a student-athlete makes a verbal commitment prior to the legislation change they will be able to lock in their scholarship offer.This is incorrect. The NCAA does not recognize a verbal commitment and in fact, 1 in 4 student-athletes who verbally commit to a University prior to their junior year in high school will see the terms of their scholarship change.3. The role of the travel coach will drastically change beginning in April.
This is incorrect. We believe this legislation will reduce or eliminate the "agency" of travel coaches. The new piece involved in this contact is one-way communication: travel ball coaches to the college coaches, but not vice versa. College coaches may only indicate interest or no interest, in order to allow prospective student-athletes to know which schools are interested in them so they can identify potential recruiting options, but nothing more. College coaches will still be able to receive important information from you about your student-athletes they just won't be able to give any of their own insight such as strengths and weaknesses of the player, anticipated scholarship amounts, or what they want the player to work on.
About the NFCA
Established in 1983, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) is the professional growth organization for fastpitch softball coaches from all competitive levels of play. The national office, located in the Crescent Hill community of Louisville, Ky., moved to the Bluegrass State in 2012.
Although collegiate coaches comprised the majority of the organization's membership in the early days, today they are joined by high school, travel ball, professional and international coaches, along with umpires, clubs, businesses and fans of fastpitch softball. Growing from 40 members in 1983 to over 5,000 today, the NFCA boasts members from all 50 states and several international countries. There are many services offered to the membership. Highlighted by the All-America teams, the awards program is about recognizing student-athletes for their athletic and academic prowess and coaches for their contributions both on and off the field.
Education is one of the NFCA’s highest priorities. It hosts an annual National Convention in December, conducts eight coaches clinics and provides in-person and online educational classes (NFCC) to its members. The Association also runs collegiate tournaments and hosts skills and academic camps throughout the nation. Additionally, the NFCA works with USA Today in producing polls for NCAA Division I and high school softball as well as compiling NCAA Division II and Division III national polls.
To learn more about joining the NFCA, click here.