After the University of Michigan lost to Ohio State University in the semi-finals of the women’s NCAA Big Ten Tournament, Michigan Wolverines coach Kim Barnes Arico and her staff hit the road, where they intended to take advantage of a full week off before the NCAA Tournament by visiting as many potential recruits as possible.
“That was our window. You get to go to someone’s home. That helps you build relationships. Helps build so many things,” Barnes Arico said. “We had all these things scheduled until we went to see high-school championships.”
Of course, the championships were canceled, as was the NCAA Tournament.
This included the crucial recruiting period for college coaches who were putting the finishing touches on this season’s team and laying the groundwork for next year.
The NCAA has barred in-person recruiting until at least April 15.
The Collegiate Commissioner’s Association, which administers the letters of intent used by Division I and II athletes, followed with a suspension on all letters through the same date.
As a result, no college coaches have been packed into suffocating high school gyms; no coaches have milled about airport terminals, waiting for the next flight to some out-of-the-way place; there have been no chances to shake hands with mom and dad, and make a pitch where the coach places the fate of their career in the parents’ hands.
“March was watching high-school games and going into homes. April and May had recruiting weekends. Home visits are all gone,” Barnes Arico said. “When the calendar comes back, June isn’t a home-visit month. What will happen?”
It is a similar story for college football, baseball and a myriad of other sports.
There is a pervasive sense of uncertainty that has coaches on edge as they try to navigate recruiting amid a pandemic.
“I think recruiting is more of an inexact science right now than it ever has been,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Just knowing your own numbers and how to attack that — how can you commit to something now that you don’t know what will exist, and the rules behind that existence? I think there are a lot of programs up in the air.”
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