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How the NCAA recruiting dead period is affecting softball, women’s golf, women’s basketball

How the NCAA recruiting dead period is affecting softball, women’s golf, women’s basketball

How the NCAA recruiting dead period is affecting softball, women’s golf, women’s basketball
October 08
13:00 2020

All NCAA Division I sports are currently operating under a recruiting dead period which was instituted by the NCAA Division I Council coordination committee on March 13 in the wake of spring sports cancellations due to COVID-19. The dead period was subsequently extended multiple times and is currently set to end on Jan. 1, 2021.

The dead period precludes coaches from conducting any in-person recruiting activities, such as watching recruits compete, hosting summer camps or conducting official visits to campus. This has obviously affected recruiting at colleges across the nation, and North Texas athletics is no exception.

Softball head coach Rodney DeLong said the dead period is having the most impact on the class of 2022 for softball because prior classes had been pretty thoroughly evaluated prior to the dead period. DeLong said the team’s inability to have recruits on official visits — and build in-person relationships with them, in particular — was one of the major impacts of the dead period. 

“We can’t have any face-to-face contact, meaning we can’t have camps, we can’t recruit, we can’t go to other people’s camps and speak to [recruits], we can’t have visits,” DeLong said. “[Visits are] our chance to really show them who we are in person and what the day-to-day looks like. Because of the non-face-to-face contact, we don’t get that piece, and that’s disappointing.”

DeLong also said not being able to host summer camps affected the softball program as well, both in evaluating potential recruits and being able to pay their volunteer coach. NCAA rules currently allow softball programs to have two paid assistants on staff, according to Softball America, a rule that has been a topic of contention among schools recently.

“What camps support us to do is pay our assistants more money and cover our volunteer positions, which is really important to us,” DeLong said. “[The NCAA] doesn’t allow us to pay a third assistant, so then we have to rely on camps and fundraising to pay our volunteer position so that we have that third assistant. Now that we can’t do camps, my volunteer … can’t work until January because there’s no way for us to pay him, there’s no way for him to make a living.”

Women’s golf head coach Michael Akers also felt the recruiting dead period’s effects this summer, particularly in evaluating the class of 2022. His team will lose three of seven golfers to graduation in the spring of ’22, and Akers said he hoped to more closely evaluate potential recruits for that important class this summer.

“I wanted to get out this summer and look at everybody again and kind of line them up in order of preference,” Akers said, “Now, I don’t know how that’s gonna work since we can’t go out until after Jan. 1, at least.”

The pandemic affected Akers’ 2020 class as well with his lone signee, Shreya Pal, who was unable to come to the United States for the fall semester due to the Indian embassy being closed.

“She was supposed to be here this fall,” Akers said. “She’s from India, and the embassy didn’t open until the middle of August. By the time she would’ve quarantined, we were looking at potentially late September, early October to have her ready to go, so I just told her to defer to January enrollment.”

Women’s basketball head coach Jalie Mitchell had a similar scenario play out in her 2020 class with senior forward Emma Villas-Gomis, a transfer from Texas Tech. Mitchell said Villas-Gomis, who had returned home to France for the summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, did not arrive in the U.S. until a few days before school started, with the pandemic presenting new challenges at every turn.

“Emma, she really didn’t get here until right before school started … I mean literally like a few days before,” Mitchell said. “Just to get her even admitted took a longer process … trying to get information from people who may or may not have been on campus working. It was pretty stressful, to be quite frank, but I’m just glad that it all worked out in time and we were able to get her here.”

Mitchell also said the recruiting dead period forced her program to find new ways to showcase North Texas to recruits, whether through social media or virtual tours of campus.

“We’ve had to get very good at virtual visits, I’ll say that,” Mitchell said. “I will give a lot of credit to our administration in athletics for helping us to gain some additional virtual tools to show our campus to those who haven’t had a chance to visit personally, just giving us a chance to show everything that UNT has to offer.”

Despite the challenges of recruiting virtually during the dead period, Mitchell said women’s basketball is striving to find positives in the situation and take advantage of the additional time they now have to spend with current players.

“We’re just gonna try to make the most of the opportunities we do have and kind of see the positive side of things,” Mitchell said. “Not only with [recruiting] but even with our current players, it gives us more time with our team. We missed some time with our own team … so I’m enjoying that opportunity to spend more time and do more things with them.”

Featured Image by Zachary Thomas

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John Fields

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