Coaches for all 28 varsity sports at Carolina spend considerable time and resources recruiting students to participate in athletics at the University.
At the beginning of the recruiting process, coaches, assistant coaches and recruiting coordinators for UNC’s 28 intercollegiate teams target recruits that are a good fit for UNC, both athletically and academically. They carefully consider the athletic abilities and academic preparedness of each prospective student-athlete, and they recruit students with potential to achieve academic success at Carolina while competing in intercollegiate athletics.
UNC’s Intercollegiate Teams and Coaches
The Working Group interviewed several UNC coaches. Following is a list of UNC’s intercollegiate teams and coaches, with those in bold indicating those interviewed by a representative of the Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group.
- Men’s Basketball (Head Coach Roy Williams, Assistant Coach CB McGrath and Assistant to the Athletic Director & Director of Player Development Eric Hoots)
- Women’s Basketball (Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell, Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Tracey Williams-Johnson)
- Football (Head Coach Larry Fedora, Football Operations/Recruiting Coordinator Joe Haydon)
- Baseball (Head Coach Mike Fox, Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Scott Jackson)
- Men’s Golf (Head Coach Andrew Sapp)
- Women’s Golf (Head Coach Jan Mann)
- Men’s Lacrosse (Head Coach Joe Breschi)
- Women’s Lacrosse (Head Coach Jenny Levy)
- Men’s Soccer (Head Coach Carlos Somoano)
- Women’s Soccer (Head Coach Anson Dorrance)
- Men’s Tennis (Head Coach Sam Paul)
- Women’s Tennis (Head Coach Brian Kalbas)
- Men’s Swimming and Diving (Head Coach Rich DeSelm)
- Women’s Swimming and Diving (Head Coach Rich DeSelm)
- Men’s Fencing (Head Coach Ron Miller)
- Women’s Fencing (Head Coach Ron Miller)
- Women’s Rowing (Head Coach Sarah Haney)
- Men’s Outdoor Track and Field (Head Coach Harlis Meaders)
- Men’s Indoor Track and Field (Head Coach Harlis Meaders)
- Men’s Cross Country (Head Coach Harlis Meaders)
- Women’s Outdoor Track and Field (Head Coach Harlis Meaders)
- Women’s Indoor Track and Field (Head Coach Harlis Meaders)
- Women’s Cross Country (Head Coach Harlis Meaders)
- Field Hockey (Head Coach Karen Shelton)
- Gymnastics (Head Coach Derek Galvin)
- Softball (Head Coach Donna Papa)
- Volleyball (Head Coach Joe Sagula)
- Wrestling (Head Coach Coleman Scott)
1.1 Guidelines and Regulations
UNC’s recruiting activities are governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Recruiting Guidelines. Recruits must meet specific minimum initial eligibility requirements, set forth and communicated by the NCAA.
A public service announcement produced by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) communicates NCAA requirements to prospective student-athletes.
Throughout the recruiting process, Department of Athletics personnel and prospective student-athletes are expected to adhere to all NCAA and ACC regulations as well as all state and federal laws. Any violations are reported immediately to the Department of Athletics Compliance Office and to the Chancellor, the Faculty Athletics Representative, the ACC and the NCAA.
1.2 Recruiting Goals
Conversations with UNC coaches provide insight into the main emphases of recruiting. Coaches seek to bring to campus the most talented student-athletes who can win in athletic competition. Coaches consider multiple factors when recruiting prospective student-athletes:
- Academic ability
- Moral character
- Athletic ability
- Reputation as a team player
- Position and need for the team
- Drive and grit
Just as UNC’s coaches consider numerous factors in potential recruits, prospective student-athletes consider multiple factors when choosing UNC:
- Reputation as a top five public research university
- Quality of academics
- UNC brand recognition
- Compatibility with coaching style
- History of Team success
- Style of play
- Reputation of other UNC teams
- Campus culture
- Diversity of faculty
1.3 The Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruiting
Like all applicants to UNC, student-athletes are required to complete and submit an application for admission to the University. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions makes admission decisions for all students, including student-athletes and works together with the Department of Athletics to communicate UNC’s admission requirements and expectations to prospective student-athletes.
UNC will admit students whom we believe:
- Will succeed academically at UNC—and wish to succeed academically at UNC while pursuing degrees that are meaningful to them
- Will complete degree requirements stipulated by the University for all students
- Will accomplish these two goals with appropriate assistance and support from the University
1.4 “Getting Ready for UNC”
For late middle school and early high school students who plan to attend college and compete at the intercollegiate level, the Working Group has collaborated with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to create a recruiting and admissions document for prospective students titled “Getting Ready for UNC.”
The document, produced by Admissions, is available publicly and serves several purposes:
- Provides a point of reference for coaches to share with prospective student-athletes whom they are interested in recruiting for intercollegiate competition at UNC
- Conveys the message that UNC is academically rigorous
- Emphasizes that UNC offers a liberal arts education as well as professional degrees
- Directs prospective student-athletes and their families to the UNC Admissions website for further information
The document also explains what UNC seeks in prospective students and what it takes to succeed at UNC:
- Engage as a student throughout high school: go to class, be an active learner and stay invested and involved in your education.
- High school grades are critical and should always reflect continuous improvement.
- When it is helpful to submit multiple SAT and/or ACT scores
- UNC’s Minimum Academic Requirements (MAR) and Minimum Course Requirements (MCR)
- Registration with the NCAA Eligibility Center
- NCAA minimum grade-point average (GPA) requirements
- Meet NCAA core course requirements by senior year of high school.
Posters based on the document are also produced and distributed to middle and high school coaches and guidance counselors to display in their offices or locker rooms. For more information contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
1.5 Recruiting Timeline
Coaches begin identifying and recruiting student-athletes as soon as NCAA regulations allow (see NCAA Master Calendar). The NCAA enforces precise rules on how and when coaches may interact with prospective student-athletes.
1.5.1 Early Evaluations
Coaches typically begin the evaluation of prospective student-athletes as early as their first or second year of high school. Coaches initially identify a prospect based mainly on athletic talent. The coach collects more information about a candidate’s academic abilities if he/she believes that the student can compete athletically at Carolina. As the recruitment process continues and the student progresses in high school, coaches continue to gather more academic information about the recruit in addition to athletic ability.
Early student recruitment is a common practice among Division I institutions and can be helpful in bringing the best and brightest recruits to Carolina, but it can be riskier than recruiting students later in their high school careers. First, a first- or second-year high school student does not have a substantial amount of academic information to inform the coach if he or she is a good fit for academic life at UNC. Second, Carolina prides itself for its strong sense of community, and that culture extends to its athletics teams. The spirit of “I am a Tar Heel” is a key element of the University’s culture and an important recruiting tool for UNC. The recruiting process is an opportunity to find out if the relationship between a student-athlete and the University will be a good fit—athletically and academically—which can take time as the student-athlete progresses through high school. Asking students to commit to a particular school as early as their first or second year in high school could run counter to this important relationship-building process.
1.5.2 Communicating with Prospective Recruits
Early in the recruiting process when contact with the prospective student-athlete and his or her family is limited, UNC coaches are permitted to communicate with several individuals who may influence the collegiate enrollment decisions of prospective student-athletes and their families. These individuals include high school coaches and club or travel team coaches.
Prospective student-athletes may receive a recruiting questionnaire from a sport program at anytime. Some sports use video sharing services (e.g., HUDL) to view film of high school athletes and review prospective recruits. NCAA rules dictate when a countable coach may initiate written, verbal and in-person off-campus contact with a prospective student-athlete and his/her family. The timing of first permissible contact is sport specific. For example, a men’s basketball prospect can be contacted by telephone or written correspondence after June 15 following the conclusion of his sophomore year.
Many UNC sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, football, men’s and women’s soccer, lacrosse, baseball, field hockey, wrestling, fencing, track & field, volleyball, softball, and golf, hold camps for young athletes who wish to hone their skills and gain exposure to UNC’s coaching staff. Some camps invite participants as young as 10 years old. NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 regulates the interactions between institutional staff members and prospective student-athletes at camps and clinics. Correspondence with these individuals prior to camps and clinics also is governed by Bylaw 13.
1.5.3 Unofficial Visits
A prospective student-athlete may make an unofficial visit to UNC at any time. An unofficial visit to a member institution by a prospective student-athlete is a visit made at the prospective student-athlete’s own expense. The only benefit that UNC can provide for a prospective student-athlete on an unofficial visit are complimentary admissions to an athletics event (e.g., tickets to a football game or a men’s basketball game). For example, UNC’s football team hosts a “Junior Day” in late January where high school juniors (and some sophomores) come to campus at their own expense to watch practice, meet with coaches, tour the campus and attend a UNC men’s basketball game.
1.5.4 Official Visits
A prospective student-athlete may make an official visit to UNC only after UNC has received the prospective student-athlete’s standardized test scores, high school transcript and the prospect is placed on the institution’s request list at the NCAA Eligibility Center. An official visit to a member institution by a prospective student-athlete is a visit financed in whole or in part by the member institution. Most official visits occur during a prospective student-athlete’s senior year in high school, although some official visits (e.g., men’s and women’s basketball) may occur during a student’s junior year in high school as permitted by NCAA rules.
If a prospect has not yet committed to UNC, the purpose of the official visit is to confirm whether Carolina is a good fit for the student and whether the student is a good fit for the University. For students who have already committed to UNC, the official visit is an opportunity for coaches to build team unity and prepare recruits to get started at Carolina.
During official visits, many prospective students take a campus tour and meet with the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA). Some may meet with a faculty member or attend a class in an area of study that interests them. These visits take place throughout the year (timing depends on the team), on weekdays, weeknights or weekends. ASPSA Academic Counselors provide prospective student-athletes with information about the services and facilities provided in the Loudermilk Center for Excellence.
ASPSA staff members also meet with large groups of recruits who visit campus at the same time and share information about academic resources and early planning for course scheduling, as many coaches require their team to attend Summer School, and, in some cases, may encourage prospective student-athletes to matriculate early, after fall semester of their senior year in high school.
Each team coordinates activities for official visits, for example, campus tours, opportunities to meet with current students and faculty, tailgates, football games and basketball games.
1.5.5 “Dead periods”
There are NCAA defined “dead periods” during the academic year when in-person contact between Athletic Department Staff and prospective student-athletes is limited. Official and unofficial visits, contacts, evaluations, speaking engagements at banquets, and camps or clinics are not permissible during dead periods. Permissible recruiting activities during dead periods include phone calls and written or electronic correspondence. Prospective student-athletes who have signed a National Letter of Intent, the institution’s written offer or admission and/or financial aid or for whom the institution has received a financial deposit in response to an offer of admission is no longer subject to the application of a dead period. Dead periods are sport specific.
1.6 Recruiting Class Size
The size of a team’s recruiting class varies from year to year and is directly related to the squad size of each respective sport program. Some teams, such as men’s and women’s basketball, have small recruiting classes. Other teams, such as soccer, lacrosse and football, have larger recruiting classes. All teams may bring recruits to campus for individual as well as group visits. And all teams may utilize home visits regardless of the size of their recruiting class.
Examples of typical recruiting class sizes and signing periods by team:
- Men’s basketball – 3 to 5 recruits per year with a staggered signing period starting in November.
- Women’s basketball – 3 to 5 recruits per year with a staggered signing period starting in November.
- Football – 25 to 35 recruits per year (a maximum of 25 are recipients of athletics aid per NCAA rules and 5 to 10 are invited walk-ons), with signing in February.
- Baseball – 12 to 15, sometimes as many as 18, recruits per year. Signing period is staggered. The professional draft complicates recruiting for some sports, including men’s and women’s soccer, basketball and baseball. For example, Major League Baseball can draft a player directly out of high school during the spring of his high school senior year. If a player chooses to play college baseball, he must have 3 years of NCAA play or turn 21 within 45 days of the MLB draft in order to participate in the draft.
- Women’s soccer – 5 to 8 recruits per year with a staggered signing period.
Universities may offer athletics aid to student-athletes in accordance with NCAA regulations. Some sports are considered head count sports (i.e., recipient of aid counts as 1.0 regardless of the dollar amount received). Other sport programs award athletics aid based on equivalencies. For more information regarding head count and equivalency sports at Carolina go to Process 3.0 Financial Aid.
1.7 The ASPSA and the Department of Athletics Designated Liaison to Admissions
The Department of Athletics designated liaison to Admissions and the ASPSA Director work together to consider the overall profile of an entire incoming class of first-year athletes—from all 28 teams—to ensure that UNC has the resources necessary to meet each student’s specific academic support needs. The goal is to ensure that upon admission to the University, all student-athletes have the academic resources needed to be successful. (See Process 2.0 Admissions for more details.)
1.8 Academic Assessment of Student-Athlete Recruits
At UNC, screening for a possible learning disability does not occur until after a student-athlete has been admitted to the University. These screenings may take place during official or unofficial visits, during the summer prior to the first year, or later, depending on each individual student’s situation. Screenings during spring visits did not occur in 2014 and 2015. (See Process 10.0 Resources for Student-Athletes with Disabilities for more information.)
1.9 Recruiting Budget
There are no NCAA-imposed budget caps on recruiting. UNC’s Department of Athletics sets and monitors an annual budget for each team. These budgets can be supplemented by the Rams Club (See Process 20.0) or by fundraising efforts of individual coaches. Individual fundraising goes into a coach’s sport-specific University account.