There are many NCAA terms that anyone going through the recruiting process should know about - Keep in mind, this is not a complete list, but it should help. There may be slight variations between NCAA Division I, II and III. The EXACT definitions can be found at www.ncaa.org
Prospective Student Athlete - PSA: Any athlete that has entered the 9th grade of high school. When the PSA enters 9th grade, a myriad of NCAA rules kick in.
Unofficial Visit: A campus visit paid for by the PSA. The host institution is not allowed to cover any expenses (DII can pay for a lunch on campus). A PSA is allowed an unlimited number of Unofficial Visits to a single campus or any number of campuses. The coaching staff is prohibited from any contact off-campus (i.e. touring around the town or eating off campus). The PSA can spend the night with a team member, if they pay the usual overnight rate available to any visiting student.
Official Visit: The host institution pays for the cost of the visit - this includes travel to and from campus, all meals, lodging and admission to campus events. Also, the host institution can cover all expenses (except travel) for parents/guardians who accompany the PSA. The length of the visit is 48 hours from the time the PSA arrives on campus. Only one visit per host institution is allowed and a PSA is limited to a total of five Official Visits to NCAA Division I schools.
The current trend is for a PSA/family to make a number of preliminary Unofficial Visits during the Junior year, then take a couple of Official Visits at a later time to make a decision on a commitment or they take an Official Visit after they have made a verbal commitment. For many Division I programs, the Official Visit has lost its significance before making a decision and is rather a relaxed trip for the PSA to hang out with their new team.
NCAA Clearinghouse: The Clearinghouse is the mechanism that NCAA member schools use to verify Initial Eligibility of incoming Student Athletes. This process includes verifying a certain number of core classes, grade point average and the SAT/ACT test scores. Each division of the NCAA uses a slightly different combination of grade point average (with the core classes only) and test scores to determine eligibility. You register for the NCAA Clearinghouse (http://www.ncaaclearinghouse.net/) online and submit documentation directly to them, not to the college/university.
Quiet Period: This means that no off campus activity is allowed by a coaching staff - coaches can't go to high schools or junior events to scout players. But, PSA's can come to a campus on an Official or Unofficial Visit.
Dead Period: In a nutshell, nothing can happen other than allowable correspondence - no off campus recruiting, no on campus visits (Unofficial or Official) even if the PSA is on a campus for another event, there still can be no contact/interaction with the volleyball staff.
Written Correspondence: This term includes e-mail, along with all traditional post mail. A PSA can mail/send e-mail at any time, but a college is only allowed to send one introduction letter/questionnaire before September 1st of a PSA's Junior Year. After September 1st, there is no limit as to the number of letters/e-mails a school may send.
Telephone Correspondence: Included with this is instant/text messaging communication. A PSA may call, at their own expense, a coach at anytime and there is no restriction on what they can visit about. Since the regulations state that a college coach may not place telephone calls/text messages to a PSA before July 1st of their Senior Year, a college coach cannot return any voice mails left for them by a PSA.
Again, this is just a sample of the many terms that comprise the NCAA rules and if you need exact definitions, go to www.ncaa.org. Please don't hesitate to drop me an e-mail if you need something explained.