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Prospective Student-Athletes

"Recruiting" Defined

Per bylaw 13.02.13, recruiting is any solicitation of a prospective student-athlete (PSA) or a PSA's relatives (or legal guardians) by an institutional staff member or by a representative of the institution's athletics interest for the purpose of securing the PSA's enrollment and ultimate participation in the institution's intercollegiate athletics program. Depending on the type of solicitation that occurs, the PSA can then become a recruited PSA. Below are actions that cause a PSA to become a recruited PSA:
  • Providing a PSA with an official visit
  • Having an arranged, in-person, off-campus encounter with a PSA or the PSA's parents, relatives, or legal guardians
  • Initiating or arranging a telephone contact with the PSA, the PSA's relatives or legal guardians on more than one occasion for the purpose of recruitment
  • Issuing a NLI or the institution's written offer of athletically related financial aid to the PSA (issuing a written offer of athletically related financial to a PSA to attend a summer sessions prior to full-time enrollment does not cause the PSA to become recruited)

Telephone Calls

Only coaches who are within their sport's respective countable limits are permitted to place recruiting telephone calls to a PSA or a PSA's relatives or legal guardians. Telephone calls are defined as any electronically transmitted human voice exchange placed to PSAs or a PSA's relatives or legal guardians.

Coaches are able to place unlimited telephone calls to PSAs and the PSA's relatives or legal guardians during the five (5) days leading up to the PSA's official visit, during the official visit, regarding camp/clinic logistical issues, on the date of a permissible in-person, off-campus contact, on the initial National Letter of Intent signing date and the two days immediately following in sports other than football, and during the 48 hours prior to and after 7:00 AM on initial signing date for the National Letter of Intent in the sport of football. Further, all forms of communications are unlimited once the PSA has signed a National Letter of Intent, signed the institution's offer of athletically related financial aid, accepted the institution's written offer of admission, or the institution receives a financial deposit in response to the institution's offer of admission.

Text Messages

In the sport of men's basketball, text messaging is permissible the same date it is permissible to send other forms of recruiting materials to the PSA and PSA's relatives and legal guardians. In sports other than men's basketball, text messages to a PSA and the PSA's relatives and legal guardians are not permissible until the PSA has signed an NLI, athletically related financial aid agreement, or accepted NIU's offer of admission.

Official Visits

An official visit is a visit made by a PSA to a member institution in which the member institution finances any or all of the PSA's visit expenses. PSAs are permitted one (1) official visit to a member institution and a total of five (5) to Division I institutions, even if the PSA is a multi-sport athlete. In sports other than men's and women's basketball, PSAs are permitted to make an official visit beginning the opening day of their senior year in high school. In the men's basketball, a PSA is permitted to make an official visit beginning January 1 of his junior year in high school. In women's basketball, a PSA is permitted to make an official visit beginning the Thursday following the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship game of her junior year in high school. Official visits are not permitted in the sport of women's basketball during the July evaluation periods. Note: A PSA's official visit count starts over beginning October 15 after the completion of their senior year in high school. On an annual basis (August 1- July 31), football is allowed 56 official visits, basketball is allowed 12, and baseball is allowed 25. Football is allowed to carry over six (6) unused visits from the previous year to be used during the next year.

Official visits are limited to a 48-hour time period and begin when the PSA arrives to campus and ends when they depart campus. However, if a coach accompanies a PSA to and from the PSA's home for an official visit, the visit shall begin when the coach picks up the PSA and end when the coach has dropped off the PSA at home. The official visit can also begin if the PSA's transportation to campus is delayed for entertainment or personal reasons. If the PSA arrives in the local of the institution too late in the evening to begin the visit, the visit's start time can be delayed until the next morning and the PSA [and in the sport of men's basketball, the PSA's parents and legal guardians (up to two people)] can receive lodging expenses for that first evening in the event it happens.

A PSA and PSA's parents or legal guardians may be provided entertainment within a 30-mile radius of the institution during the official visit, but any entertainment costs must come from the $40 entertainment allowance provided to the student host. The PSA may also be provided up to three (3) complimentary admissions to home athletics event within a 30-mile radius of campus. Finally, while on an official visit, the PSA and the PSA's parents, legal guardians, and spouse (additional individuals are eligible for meals in the sport of football) are allowed to receive three (3) meals per day and not more than six (6) total on the official visit (the NCAA also allows "reasonable snacks" in addition to the meals provided). Only the PSA and the PSA's parents, legal guardians, and spouse may receive lodging expenses during an official visit.

While on an official visit, per NCAA rules, a PSA is allowed to use institutional facilities for workouts and other recreational activities provided such activities are not organized or observed by members of the coaching staff, not reported back to the coaching staff by other individuals, and are not designed to test the athletics ability of the PSA. However, per Athletic Training policy, PSAs on official visits are not permitted to participate in physical activities in institutional facilities (unless they are committed to NIU per bylaw 13.02.12.1 and have completed a medical examination with Athletic Training). The only exception exists in the sport of basketball where they are allowed an on-campus evaluation.

Unofficial Visits

An unofficial visit is a visit by a PSA to a member institution in which the PSA pays all of his or her own costs.

The NCAA allows PSAs to make unlimited unofficial visits to member institutions regardless of their year in school, but no unofficial visits are allowed during dead periods. Further, coaches in the sport of basketball should take note of the prohibition on unofficial visits during specific times of the year as noted in the NCAA manual. During an unofficial visit, a PSA may receive up to three (3) complimentary admissions for a home athletics event and stay in a student-athlete's dorm as long as the PSA pays the institutional rate for such lodging. Any transportation provided to the PSA and those accompanying the PSA is limited to travel to and from practice and competition facility sites in the PSA's sport (within a 30-mile radius), other institutional facilities, and to attend a home athletics event in the locale of the institution. Finally, PSAs are allowed to dine with current student-athletes on campus as long as the PSA (and those accompanying the PSA) pay for the cost of the meals.

While on an unofficial visit, per NCAA rules, a PSA is allowed to use institutional facilities for workouts and other recreational activities provided such activities are not organized or observed by members of the coaching staff, not reported back to the coaching staff by other individuals, and are not designed to test the athletics ability of the PSA. However, per Athletic Training policy, PSAs on unofficial visits are not permitted to participate in physical activities in institutional facilities (unless they are committed to NIU per bylaw 13.02.12.1 and have completed a medical examination with Athletic Training). The only exception exists in the sport of basketball where they are allowed an on-campus evaluation.

Complimentary Admissions

PSAs on unofficial or official visits are permitted to receive up to three (3) complimentary admissions to home athletics events [PSAs from nontraditional families may receive an additional two (2) complimentary admissions for use by the PSA's parents]. Individuals receiving complimentary admissions are required to provide a photo i.d. and signature in order to receive complimentary admissions.

PSAs on official visits to NIU are permitted to reserve and purchase, at retail value, additional tickets adjacent to their complimentary admissions. Coaches are required to coordinate the purchasing of additional ticket requests with the PSA and Athletics Ticket Office. PSAs on unofficial visits needing additional tickets are only permitted to purchase tickets through the same manner as the general public and therefore, may not be able to get additional tickets adjacent to their complimentary admissions.

On-Campus Evaluations (Basketball Only)

The NCAA allows PSAs in the sport of basketball to participate in on-campus evaluations. An on-campus evaluation allows the coaching staff to have a PSA participate in athletically related activities with the coaching staff present for up to two (2) hours during an unofficial or official visit to campus.

Publicity

In general, the NCAA prohibits institutional staff members to publicly comment about a PSA or PSA's team, coach, or a facility primarily used by PSAs. The only exception prior to a PSA's commitment (per bylaw 13.02.12.1) to NIU applies to confirming or denying the recruitment of a PSA if someone asks if NIU is recruiting or not recruiting the specific PSA.

Cost of Attendance and Full Grant-in-Aid Values

The office of Student Financial Aid determines annually the cost of attendance and full grant-in-aid values. The cost of attendance is calculated in accordance with federal regulations and includes the total cost of tuition and fees, room and board, books, and supplies, transportation, and other expenses related to attending NIU. Further, the cost of attendance calculation for student-athletes must adhere to the same policy NIU applies to the general student body. The calculation of a full grant-in-aid is limited to tuition and fees, room and board, and required course-related books. Once these values have been determined by the office of Student Financial Aid, the Athletic Financial Aid Coordinator will communicate these values to the HACO in a timely manner so that they can be provided to the coaching staffs. The coaching staffs are then able to reference these figures when explaining to PSAs what educational costs their athletics scholarship and other aid will cover at NIU.

Per bylaw 15.1.1, student-athletes are eligible to receive institutional financial aid based on athletics ability and educational expenses awarded per bylaw 15.2.6.4 (U.S. Olympic Committee or U.S. National Governing Body) up to the value of a full grant-in-aid, plus any other aid up to the value of cost of attendance.

Guidance on Grant-In-Aid Values in Equivalency Sports

The average tuition is based on 14 credit hours for the tuition rate for each student-athlete. Illinois has truth in tuition, so the tuition rate for an in-state (IS) student-athlete is the same throughout their time at NIU. Because of this, the average tuition used in determining the average cost for a student-athlete is based on either the year they first enrolled (if IS) or the year they established Illinois residency (if originally out of state (OS)). The tuition rate is the same for all out of state student-athletes.

Adding together the average tuition for a student-athlete in the truth in tuition year in which they enrolled, the average fees, the average room and board, and books gives you the total average cost, or the full grant-in-aid (GIA). There will be five (5) different GIA figures, representing each truth in tuition rate. This total is then multiplied by the student-athlete's equivalency to determine the amount of aid they will receive.

For student-athletes who receive academic scholarships that count towards their equivalency, the amount of that scholarship is then subtracted from the amount of aid to determine the amount of aid they will receive from athletics. The aid is first applied toward books. Next, the remaining aid is applied to tuition up to the actual amount of tuition for the student-athlete. Any remaining athletic aid pays for any additional costs in the order of fees, board, and then room.

Eligibility for Institutional Financial Aid

Each student-athlete must meet applicable NCAA, MAC, and NIU regulations to be eligible for institutional financial aid (including athletically related financial aid). If these regulations are met, the student-athlete may be awarded institutional financial aid during any term in which the individual is in regular attendance and is an undergraduate or graduate student with eligibility remaining.

Outside Financial Aid

Student-athletes are permitted to receive financial aid other than institutional financial aid provided it is from one of the following sources: anyone upon whom the student-athlete is naturally or legally dependent, awarded solely on bases having no relationship to athletics ability, awarded through an established and continuing outside program, or educational expenses awarded by the U.S. Olympic Committee. However, prior to the outside financial aid being posted to a student-athlete's bursar account, it must be approved by the HACO.

Amateur Status

All incoming PSAs must have their amateurism certified by the Eligibility Center prior to competing in intercollegiate athletics. Additionally, offers of financial aid cannot be extended to a PSA unless they have completed the amateurism questionnaire through the Eligibility Center. The process of acquiring certification as an amateur requires PSAs to answer questions pertaining to past participation in athletics. If there are no issues with a PSA's amateurism after answering the questions, the PSA will need to access their account to request final amateurism (the Eligibility Center does not allow PSAs enrolling initially in the fall semester to request final amateurism until April 1 prior to enrollment and for spring semester enrollees, final amateurism can be requested beginning October 1 prior to enrollment).

If a PSA's amateurism is not final certified by the time they report for athletics participation, they can practice for a maximum of forty-five (45) days while their amateurism status is pending. If deemed final non-certified for amateurism, the PSA is prohibited from participating in intercollegiate athletics. Note: International PSAs may take longer to be final certified by the Eligibility Center.

It is also important to note that PSAs must maintain their status as an amateur once they become student-athletes. An individual loses amateur status and is ineligible for intercollegiate competition if the individual:

  • Uses his or her skill (directly or indirectly) for pay in any form in any sport
  • Accepts a promise of pay even if such pay is to be received following completion of intercollegiate athletics participation
  • Signs a contract or commitment of any kind to play professional athletics, regardless of its legal enforceability or any consideration received, except as permitted in bylaw 12.2.5.1
  • Received, directly or indirectly, a salary, reimbursement of expenses, or any other form of financial assistance from a professional sports organization based on athletics skill or participation, except as permitted by NCAA rules and regulations
  • Competes on any professional athletics team per bylaw 12.02.5, even if no pay or remuneration for expenses was received, except as permitted in bylaw 12.2.3.2.1
  • After initial full-time collegiate enrollment, enters into a professional draft
  • Enters into an agreement with an agent
Incoming Freshman Initial Eligibility

All incoming freshman PSAs must register with the Eligibility Center, an NCAA entity used to certify the academic and amateur status of PSAs. PSAs will need to create an account through the Eligibility Center, pay the registration fee, answer the amateurism questions, and submit high school transcripts and ACT/SAT test scores to the Eligibility Center. PSAs can seek guidance through this process from their high school counselors, Eligibility Center, or the HACO.

PSAs deemed Final Qualifiers by the Eligibility Center are eligible for practice, competition, and athletics financial aid in their first year of residency at NIU. Final Nonqualifiers are not eligible for practice, competition, or athletics financial aid in their first year of residence. A PSA who has not been final certified by the Eligibility Center prior to practice beginning can practice with the team for forty-five (45) days while awaiting a decision, assuming all other eligibility requirements have been met.

NCAA Information

Testing Agencies NIU Resources Recruiting Guides