The NCAA approved landmark early recruiting legislation for men's and women's lacrosse in April 2017 to limit contact and communication with college coaches before September 1 of a prospective student-athlete's junior year in high school.
Women’s lacrosse is breaking barriers by pressuring 8th-grade girls to “commit” to one of the most accelerated early recruiting processes in college sports today. Lacrosse recruiting starts in middle school and requires year-round training to showcase for college coaches. Early recruiting undermines the role of sports in education and prioritizes a student’s athletic ability over academics, years before the college admissions process.
Enabled by loopholes in the NCAA rules, student-athletes can verbally “commit” at any age. This unregulated process lacks transparency and often consists of an exploding “offer” which pressures a student-athlete to make a premature decision about where to attend college. College counselors who traditionally provided guidance on this important decision have been replaced by club coaches who often act as agents and operate outside the boundaries of educational institutions.
Sports is a business that is destroying amateurism. When lacrosse, a non-revenue generating sport, is showcasing early recruiting with teenage girls, the intercollegiate model and ideals of a “student-athlete” have broken down. It is no secret that sports can help with college admissions, but early recruiting disadvantages student-athletes who cannot afford to participate in the process or afford the high cost of education. For universities who value diversity, wealth disparity is a compelling reason to evaluate their internal recruiting policies and support the pending NCAA legislation.
The NCAA is currently reviewing early recruiting and will vote on this issue in April 2017. While multiple sports have submitted different proposals, women’s lacrosse has set forth the most comprehensive legislation which if approved could help to mitigate the problem and begin to address the role of sports in education.