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There was some surprise when the NCAA passed lacrosse-specific legislation earlier this year to help curtail early recruiting in the sport, but a recent survey conducted by the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee illustrated that lacrosse was on the leading edge of early recruiting.

The online survey, conducted in September, included more than 15,000 recruited Division I athletes.

- Here are some of the results showing lacrosse among the leaders of the pack:

- Lacrosse had the earliest verbal commitments of any sport, with the average commitment coming midway through their sophomore year for both men and women.

- There were a few sports that had freshmen recruited more heavily than lacrosse, but both men’s and women’s lacrosse had the highest rates of initial contact by a coach by their sophomore year of high school. Both men’s and women’s lacrosse had 81 percent of players contacted by their sophomore year.

- Half of men’s lacrosse players had received a verbal offer by their sophomore year of high school. The next closest men’s sports to receive an offer that early were basketball (38 percent) and baseball (23 percent).

So what are the downfalls of early recruiting?

Here’s a big one. One of the key takeaways from the survey was this: “A strong majority of student-athletes view their recruiting experience as having been a positive one. However, we find that in many sports the later recruiting began, the more positive student-athletes in that sport felt about the recruiting experience.”

You can guess what the results said about the recruiting experience for lacrosse players.

Of the sports measured, lacrosse had the second lowest level of satisfaction with the recruiting experience. Only 67 percent of men’s lacrosse players agreed or strongly agreed that it was a positive experience, ahead of only football. Women’s lacrosse had a 62 percent satisfaction rate, ahead of only field hockey.

Another downfall is what happens when they get to campus.

Less than 70 percent of men’s and women’s lacrosse players felt the accuracy of their expected role of the team was conveyed during recruitment. Not surprisingly, the highest ranking sports in this category had later commitment periods – swimming and diving (late junior year) on the men’s side and cross country (senior year) on the women’s side.

It will be interesting to see the evolution of this data in subsequent years with the new recruiting calendar. The recruiting legislation passed this spring forbids contact between college coaches and prospective student-athletes until September 1 of their junior year of high school.

A summary of the preliminary report from the survey is available here (PDF).

USLacrosse Magazine by Brian Logue
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