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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Sep 17, 2021

NCAA’s Policy Response to COVID-19: How This Will Impact Your Recruitment

Submitted by Leigh Ann Fantoni

COVID-19 created change and uncertainty across many industries, and college athletic recruiting was no exception. The recruiting process that was once a well-oiled machine is now trying to recalibrate with new equipment. College coaches must navigate recent NCAA updates, and prospective student-athletes scramble to showcase their talents with limited opportunities. Two NCAA policies are driving the chaos of current college recruiting: the one-year extension of eligibility and the one-time transfer exception. 

Both policies are game changers for current players, but opposingly, they are headaches for coaches and future college athletes. 

For Division I NCAA athletes, there is a “five-year clock” of eligibility. This includes only four “seasons of competition.”  However, athletes with a season impacted by COVID-19 received a one-year extension of their eligibility period from the NCAA. For coaches, this means the seniors can play an extra year, and a new group of freshmen is also joining the team. With some roster sizes now larger than usual, recruiting for the upcoming freshman class becomes less of a priority. 

Still, that is not the case for all schools. On the other side of the pendulum are teams losing players. In April 2021, the NCAA created the “one-time transfer exception.” This policy permits athletes to transfer to Division I or II schools through the NCAA Transfer Portal and compete immediately, whereas, in the past, transfers had to wait a year before competing, which made transferring less desirable. Now, college coaches juggle recruiting current transfers and prospective student-athletes with the potential of unexpectedly losing players. 

These policies have changed the college recruiting landscape, and the ripple effects will continue. For prospective student-athletes, it is essential to proceed with caution. Playing college athletics has never been a guarantee, but now more than ever, the uncertainty is potent. So when deciding on your future alma mater, pause and ask yourself: Is this school the best fit for me even if I don’t play?

Leigh Ann Fantoni was a DI lacrosse captain at Lehigh University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She is an Admissions Clinician™ at Avery Educational Resources, an educational consulting practice founded in 2003 located in Fair Haven. For more information, visit