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How recruiting departments are approaching new unlimited official visits rule

Matt Zenitzby:Matt Zenitz04/18/23


The latest change to the recruiting landscape came last week when the NCAA Division I Council adopted a rule that will now allow recruits to take an unlimited number of official visits instead of being limited to five.

During an official visit, a school can host a recruit for a two-night stay and can pay for travel, meals and reasonable entertainment for the recruit and up to two family members.

The new rule, which goes into effect July 1, may not be quite as significant as it may have initially appeared as teams are still limited to a maximum of 56 official visits per year and because recruits can still only take one official visit per school. Nevertheless, the rule generated some strong reaction among college football personnel and recruiting staffers and will lead to at least some change to the recruiting process.

How much change should be expected? And how are teams viewing and approaching the new rule?

To find out, On3 gathered anonymous feedback from six high-ranking Power 5 personnel and recruiting staffers. Here’s what they said:

What are your overall thoughts on the new rule?

SEC staffer 1: I hate it. I think every single person in college football that I’ve talked to hates it. Now that kids have unlimited visits, who’s to know what school this kid is really interested in. The kid could go all the way til’ Signing Day now and just take free trips everywhere. Like, I’m going to go to here. I’m going to go to here. Shoot, I’ll just go to Fresno State just to go to Fresno State. But the Fresno States of the world obviously won’t have as much money as the Tennessees. And then also, at the end of the day, they never expanded the number of official visits for the school. So we still have 56 official visits. So if we run out of those official visits, we’re screwed. So we still need to be calculated on who we bring in.

Big Ten staffer 1: It’s a ridiculous rule. And it further shows that there’s nobody who works in football that sits on these committees. It’s all compliance people. … I think if you surveyed 100 people, 99 would say the rule is stupid. They form all these committees with all compliance people. There’s zero people who sit on these committees that directly work in football. And I keep saying that there needs to be some representation, not ADs who don’t understand, not presidents, but people around the country, personnel guys, general managers, coaches, whoever it may be. Somebody needs to have a voice outside of just compliance people who don’t know what they’re doing.

ACC staffer: First of all, overall, everything changes so quick nowadays. You’re not going to give me too much of a shock when I read any of these new rules coming out. When something comes out, you’re just like, OK, let’s figure it out. It’s not like, oh s—- anymore. It’s just like, OK, here’s another change and you just keep it rolling. It sounds exhausting for the player. Going on five official visits is a lot, just from the logistics of for them, having to go through the process and then go through the travel and go through these long weekends with these huge itineraries. They can be exhausting. I think it’s going to work itself out, though. It came off as more of a major change than it actually is on paper. Teams’ numbers are going to be what the numbers are. If we’re taking 22 guys, we’re taking 22 guys and we’re going to do enough visits to take that amount of guys. It’s not like we’re just taking unlimited guys also and there’s unlimited visits. Like, there’s a cap on on our end, too.

Big Ten staffer 2: Nowadays, kids, after their third or fourth OV, they’re shot and they’re tired. You ask them all the time. And after a couple of visits, they’re like, alright, I’m done with this whole process. I don’t want to visit anymore. And I think for kids, it sounds good, ‘Oh, I get to take unlimited OVs.’ Yes, for those kids who might not can afford it financially, awesome. Absolutely. It’s great. But people don’t understand the whole aspect of alright, there’s a whole other side of this where we, the staff, have to plan all this stuff, but we’re also capped at 56, so we have to really talk about this as a staff and say OK, is this person that wants to OV, is this an actual guy who’s interested in us or are we just wasting a trip just so he can come visit for free? Because there’s going to be kids that say, hey, I want to come unofficially, but can you pay for me and it be like an OV for me? And you’re going to have a lot of kids who get told no and they’re going to be pissed off because they don’t understand how the whole process works.

More from Big Ten staffer 2: I think it’s just another rule where the recruits and high school coaches probably find this as being awesome, but they truly don’t understand and grasp the concept of OK, just because it’s unlimited for you doesn’t mean we’re unlimited. We’re still in handcuffs and can only OV 56. So we’re still going to have to tell you if you can or can’t OV to us. But once again, just another rule that wasn’t very thought out. They just threw something on the wall and they’re going to see if it sticks. Two things are going to happen. They’ll shut it down or they’ll give us basically another 20 or so OVs a year.

What do you see changing?

SEC staffer 1: My mindset and our mindset is not going to change. If a kid is committed to Ohio State and he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I just want to trip to you guys,’ I’m going to be like, ‘No.’ We need to be sure this kid is actually interested in us and not just saying, hey, it’s a free meal and free photoshoot weekend for me and my boys. We’ve got to be careful on that. But I don’t know, man. This just proves my point college football is not where it should be right now. I just think the NCAA is just making up rules. A lot of good people are getting out of college football. Stuff like this is, I’m just going to be straight up with you, it’s making me want to get to the NFL more than ever right now.

Big Ten staffer 1: No change because we’re still limited on our number. It won’t change anything other than if we see kids take a ridiculous amount of visits, then we’ll probably stop recruiting them.

ACC staffer: I just hope there’s still some value in those unofficial visits and that you don’t have a bunch of kids saying, hey, I’m not coming unless it’s an official visit. There’ll be some of those situations where some of those guys will say hey, I’m not coming unless it’s an official visit. And we’ve been able to use those unofficial visits to get guys here first to gauge their interest and figure out if they’re a guy that we like too before we go on and do the full official visit. But there’s going to be some schools that are going to have to run so many official visits. 

More from ACC staffer: Instead of guys using up all their visits early and then getting down to the end and some of those schools are filling up and they’re still not decided yet and they might want to go explore a few more schools, I think it can help the player in that aspect. I don’t think it’s going to be absolutely crazy other than those guys that are not going unless it’s an official. It’s going to be different depending where you are on the map too and location to different players. So it’s going to affect some other schools more than others. There’s also probably going to be more just spending. Some of these places aren’t using all their 56 visits and they’re going to end up using more. It’s just going to be more crazy, crazy spending by these schools and universities. But yeah, it’s not going to be a crazy, crazy shakeup unless there was unlimited for us too.

Big 12 staffer: We don’t really run across too many kids that take all five visits. I think it’s going to affect the national kids and the schools that are recruiting them for the most part way more. For smaller schools or for out-of-state schools, I think what you’re going to see is they bring in kids from out of state, where usually they would have to do an unofficial to pay their way, I think you’re going to see teams bringing them in on officials and them staying out on the campus for two or three days. And that’s taking a financial load off of some of those families that can’t afford to go from Louisiana to California or California to Texas. I think you’re going to start seeing that pop up.

SEC staffer 2: I don’t think we’ve used all of ours since I’ve been here. We’ve always had a handful that rolled over, like five or six (because of only using about 50 of the 56 official visits). But I think we all may benefit a little bit at the end of the day because a guy that may go to Ohio State, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Clemson, well, now I can go and take a sixth visit to here.

Do you see this leading to schools having to more often tell recruits no regarding official visits?

Big Ten staffer 1: Yes. Absolutely.

Big 12 staffer: I think it’s going to lead to a lot of that. I know we’re not going to be the team that’s like hey, this is my my eighth official, I want to come see you. We’re not going to do it. You can go to one of the other schools, bro. It devalues the official visits. The official visit is where you could really see like OK, this is this guy’s top five for real. He’s taken an official there. This is this guy’s top five.

ACC staffer: We’re typically in the 40s (on official visits used).I don’t know how much it’s going to change things. We’ll see how it is talking with with some guys in this ’25 class. And if they don’t want to come up in the spring because they’d rather it be an OV, those situations like that, we only do our official visits on certain dates. But if you’ve got some guys that they don’t want to go on those dates and they only want to come on an OV, it might make it hard to schedule them. But maybe that would be a guy that wouldn’t end up being a good fit for us anyways if it’s that hard to get them here.