Could COVID and the fact that college coaches are all Zoom-savvy be the end of the Official Visit as we know it? Possibly, according to pending NCAA legislation that seeks to permanently extend the ban on in-person recruiting visits put in place during the pandemic.
"To be frank," said NCAA Compliance officer Duderson Douright, "Colleges have saved a lot of money by recruiting virtually and Zoom provides one of the NCAA's favorite things: a level playing field. On Zoom, prospective student-athletes can visit any school, no matter how far away or how close it is to an airport. They can even make their 'visit' without missing class time. In turn, schools can save thousands of dollars, which will be increasingly important to non-revenue sports under budget scrutiny."
When reached for comment on how this ban might affect Men's rowing, which is not an NCAA sport, an IRA coach noted that his program already recruits mostly online by Skype: "Flying Aussies in for a 48-hour official visit is definitely tricky and not cheap; if everybody recruited all their prospects the same way, just online, we think that would make our internationals feel less othered when domestic US kids are having all these fun in-person interactions."
Left unclear is whether high school students could be offered a paid visit at least after they signed, to meet new teammates in person, but the the directions taken by parallel NCAA legislative changes seems to indicate that such visits might need to be paid for by the prospects themselves, using the personal proceeds and income from the Name, Image, and Likeness windfall they are soon to receive.