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Last week I introduced the topic of athletic recruitment and talked about what students and families need to understand if they are considering playing sports in college.

There are regulations on what colleges, high school students and families are allowed to do based on grade level.

In your freshman and sophomore years, you can contact college coaches, but they can't call you. You are also allowed to visit college campuses, at your own expense, but official visits -- those paid for by the college -- are not allowed. College coaches are not allowed to meet with you off campus either.

Things change slightly when you become a junior.

Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center and complete the amateurism questionnaire as early as you can. Print out the "Transcript Release Form" for your counselor to send in at the end of the year. Take the ACT or the SAT and request that your scores be sent to the Eligibility Center (code 9999).

Coaches are allowed limited telephone contact with you during specific months, depending on your sport, although you can contact them anytime. There is still no off-campus contact or official visits allowed for juniors, but you can make unofficial visits whenever you like.

Athletic recruitment activity really kicks into high gear when you become a senior.

Here's what high school seniors need to know once you've decided to pursue athletic recruitment:

Academic update. Take the ACT or SAT again and resend your scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center. Confirm that you will fulfill all county, city, state, national and NCAA course requirements. You must send a college your transcript and test scores before they can invite you for an official recruitment visit.

Recruitment update. For Division I sports, college coaches may call you a limited number of times each week, but you can call them whenever you want. Off-campus contact is permitted, so a college coach can come watch you play, evaluate you and meet with you and your parents. Official (paid for by the college) visits are allowed. NCAA allows you to have official visits at no more than five colleges. Student/athletes are allowed to make an unlimited number of unofficial visits (paid by the family). You may sign a National Letter of Intent if you have made a decision about a college that has offered you financial aid.

Recruitment process

*Prospecting: Letters and notes from coaches (handwritten notes, a nice touch, indicate increased interest).

*Recruiting: Contact from coaches via telephone and e-mail.

*Evaluation: Contact between high school and college coaches.

*Campus visits: Official and unofficial.

*Scholarship offers (Division I and II): Verbal offers can be made as early as junior year.

*Commitment: The National Letter of Intent is a binding agreement.

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Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. For more information, visit www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com