Tuesday, January 22, 2013
New bylaw could have consequences
By Mitch Sherman
The Division I Board of Directors, in a move Saturday to focus on meaningful and enforceable legislation, opened a Pandora's box to disorder and unruliness in football recruiting.
The 18-member panel of college presidents passed 25 of 26 proposals, all submitted by the Rules Working Committee and supported by the Division I Legislative Council, to deregulate the rulebook.
Set to become bylaws Aug. 1, the most notable pieces of legislation will revolutionize the recruiting climate.
Proposal 13-2 was tabled by the board until April. It would establish a uniform start date for recruiting contact, initiated by college coaches, of July 1 after a prospect's sophomore year.
If 13-2 passes in April, prospects in their junior years can expect up to six visits per institution at home and school from coaches during the contact period, just as seniors experience.
Everything else went through, including Proposal 13-3, which removes restrictions on numerical limitations and modes of recruiting communication, including text messaging.
Starting with the Class of 2014, college coaches can call, text and communicate privately by any methods available without restrictions. No more one call per week, no more dead periods, no more ban on text messaging.
The unintended consequences will be many.
Recruiting is already contested fiercely. Coaches look for any edge they can find within the rulebook -- and sometimes outside of it.
Starting in August, it will be OK for a coach to call a prospect 10 times a day and text him constantly, so it will happen. Coaches won't hesitate for a moment out of concern that if they don't push the envelope, a rival program will.
At the American Football Coaches Association Convention this month in Nashville, Tenn., as the NCAA presented this information in a seminar, assistant coaches shuddered. Head coaches urged caution against such change.
The working group submitted the proposals to the board with input from Student-Athlete Advisory Committee vice chairmen Maddie Salamone, a former lacrosse player at Duke, and Curtis Schickner, who played baseball at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
With all due respect, Duke women's lacrosse and UMBC baseball don't resemble football in the Southeastern Conference or Big 12.
What might look good on paper and what sounds good in theory will change the lives of assistant coaches, and not for the better. As for the high school athletes and their families affected by the votes on Saturday, didn't the NCAA long ago disregard their input?
Several other proposals passed that will affect recruiting.
The board eliminated a rule that allows only full-time coaches to serve as recruiting coordinators. It lifted limitations on the number of coaches who can recruit off campus at one time. It removed restrictions on the types of printed materials distributed to recruits. It passed a proposal that deregulates camps and clinics on campus, enabling senior football prospects to participate. Another new rule allows a prospect who signs a letter of intent or offer of admission to be treated as a college student-athlete for purposes of applying recruiting regulations.
Much of this is good. It lets the NCAA work on issues that matter. It puts a burden on schools to set policy.
Proposal 13-3, though, appears to have gone too far. We'll hear about it next fall from coaches and recruits, if they're not too busy texting and talking to each other nonstop.