Athletic Recruiting Basics: Know the Terminology


All prospective college students must make sure that they remain amateurs. To do this, a student-athlete must register through the NCAA Eligibility Center and check their amateur status. There are also Eligibility Centers for NAIA and NJCAA.  


Face-to-face communication between a student-athlete and a staff member of an athletic department, during which more conversation happens than just an exchange of greeting.

Contact Period. 

Period in which college coaches can have face-to-face contact on or off college campuses with student-athletes and their families, including at high schools and homes.

Core Courses. 

Approved high school classes that the Eligibility Center uses to determine a student’s admission into college.

Dead Period. 

Period during which college coaches can have no face-to-face contact with student-athletes and parents on or off college campuses. (A dead period does not affect calling and writing; coaches and athletes can still call and write to each other.)

Evaluation Period. 

Period in which college coaches may watch athletes compete or practice, but may not have face-to-face communication.

Financial Aid. 

Offered through the school or federally. Register and apply for federal aid through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Also, thoroughly vet a school for all financial aid options.

National Letter of Intent. 

A binding agreement to the college/university the student-athlete plans to attend. Once an NLI is signed, other colleges may not contact a student-athlete. (NLI’s only apply to Division I and II institutions.)

Celebratory Standardized Signing Form.  

An NCAA form that athletes sign to attend Division III colleges. It signifies that the student has been accepted, but it is non-binding.

NCAA Eligibility Center. 

Determines whether an athlete is academically eligible to participate in Division I or Division II collegiate athletics. A student-athlete must become certified through the Center before being eligible to play college sports.


Name, image, and likeness.  College athletes at every level can monetize their success with the use of their name, image, and likeness. 


Means the student does not meet all the academic requirements for admission into college.

Official Visit. 

A college/university visit that is paid for by the college.

Unofficial Visit. 

A visit to a college/university that is paid for by the student-athlete. There is no limit on the number of unofficial visits one can take.


Means the student meets all the academic requirements for admission into college.

Quiet Period. 

Period in which college coaches cannot have off-campus contact with student-athletes or their families. College coaches can only have contact with athletes who are on their college campus.

Sliding Scale. 

The sliding scale determines your GPA and SAT/ACT requirements to determine eligibility. 


A verbal commitment occurs when a student-athlete verbally tells a coach that they will come play for them. This agreement is non-binding.


A player who is not recruited by a college to play sports and who does not receive an athletic scholarship from the college, but who becomes a member of a college team.

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