By: Andy Partin
These two types of college visits get thrown around by kids and parents often and I want everyone to be clear what the difference is between them.
After school starts in a kid's senior year he can take up to 5 official visits to different Division I and/or Division II schools. On official visits the school will extend the invitation to the player and pay for things like: meals for the kid and parents, travel expenses, complimentary event tickets to an on campus event.
Prior to the official visit, the student must present a high school transcript and proof of SAT, PSAT or ACT.
Remember, a student can only have 5 official visits. Nowadays, with many kids committing so early the only official visit they take is to the school they committed to back as a sophomore.
I recall when I was coaching back in the fall in 2003, 2004 and 2005 we could barely field a team each weekend due to all our guys taking official visits every weekend. My how things have changed...
Now, a player can take as many unofficial visits as he wants, except during a dead period (Note: kids can visit a college during a dead period but cannot have any contact with the coaches or players on that visit).
Basically an unofficial visit is where the kid/family show up on campus at their own expense and typically visit with the coaching staff and tour campus. This is usually set up by the coaching staff. Note: A kid can be left three complimentary tickets to any on-campus event as long as it's not a post-season tournament.
Now, you can't just "show up" on campus and expect a college coach is going to have any time to visit with you especially if he doesn't know who you are! These things need to be set up and planned out. As I've mentioned before on this blog, a college coach is busy throughout the day and we all value our time so don't expect him to waste any with you if you just decide to drop in and surprise him/them on a whim.
This certainly should not discourage you from visiting a college that you are interested in. If you are in the area and you like a school certainly drop by and walk around. If you haven't had any contact with the school shoot them an email and let them know who you are and that you'll be in the area and you'd like to look around and meet the staff. You'll need to include some references as well so they can crosscheck. If you really want to impress that coach, have your transcript and a playing schedule with you.