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Division III Considers On-Campus Evaluations, Celebratory Signings

According to this release by the NCAA, the Division III Recruiting Working Group is considering allowing on-campus evaluations starting as early as the summer of 2015. These evaluations would be much more extensive than those allowed in Division II or Division I basketball.

For starters, prospects would be permitted to participate in multiple evaluations for each school. On-campus evaluations would be permitted starting with the prospect’s junior year in school. One evaluation per sport per institution per year would be permitted. Division II is limited to one evaluation for each prospect per sport per institution lifetime. Division I basketball on-campus evaluations do not start until after a prospect has completed their high school basketball career.

Unlike Division II or Division I basketball, there would be no prohibition on allowing high school or junior college prospects to participate in on-campus evaluations during their playing season. Only four-year college transfer prospects would be limited to out of season activities. There would also be no time limit on activities, set at two hours in both Division I and II. Health and safety requirements, like requiring a physical and sickle cell test would be the same across all three divisions.

In addition to the tryouts, Division III is also weighing how to offer their prospects a chance to participate in signing ceremonies. Right now, prospects and schools are going to unusual lengths to get around Division III’s ban on letters of intent:

Because of the Division III prohibition against “letters of intent,” these “signing ceremonies” often involve the prospective student-athlete signing only a piece of school letterhead or even a blank sheet of paper.

The momentum appears to be toward loosening up the current policy. The debate is over how. One idea is to supply NCAA-approved language to be used in such celebratory letters. The other is to simply eliminate the prohibition and let schools and/or conferences draft their own letters. What is clear though is that Division III is not moving toward a binding letter of intent system or seeking to subscribe to the National Letter of Intent.

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