Written by Corbett Smith
NCAA hopes new recruiting changes simplify rulebook, but high school coaches fear chaos
GRAPEVINE — For football recruits in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the changes enacted by the NCAA on Saturday might require another cellphone — or at least another charger.
The NCAA’s Board of Directors — meeting at the Gaylord Texan as part of the NCAA Convention — passed 25 of 26 proposals Saturday in an attempt to make the NCAA’s labyrinthine Division I manual more streamlined. The changes, which passed with “virtual unanimity” according to NCAA president Mark Emmert, are designed to make the rulebook easier to comply with, easier to enforce and less focused on irrelevant infractions.
But, in doing so, the proposals eliminate several provisions related to recruiting, throwing the doors open for major college football programs to engage in near-constant contact with high school recruits.
Among the rule changes that will go into effect Aug. 1 are four specifically relating to recruiting:
Proposal 13-3, allowing coaches to send unlimited texts and social media messages to recruits, as well as make unlimited phone calls.
Proposal 13-5-A, which eliminates restrictions on printed recruiting materials sent to recruits.
Proposal 11-2, allowing for a recruiting coordinator or the support staff at a university to send texts and make calls, as opposed to the current system, which permit only coaches to do so.
And Proposal 11-4, allowing all assistants to be on the road recruiting at the same time, as opposed to the current rules that require coaches’ trips to be staggered.
“This is a movement toward greater responsibility at the institutional level that will allow them more flexibility, and will focus the rules on the things that are real threats to the integrity of sport — rather than things that are mostly annoying,” Emmert said.
Most high school coaches and administrators might disagree.
“I think the thing about texts is terrible,” Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire said. “I think the NCAA has got to be going crazy. … One of the reasons that they are doing it is because they can’t enforce their rules. So instead of trying to enforce them, or change them in some way, they’re just getting rid of them.”
McGuire said that if colleges were allowed unfettered access this season, his top prospects — Texas A&M pledge LaQuvionte Gonzalez and three-star receiver Quincy Adeboyejo — would have faced an unending barrage of calls and messages.
“It’s competitive,” McGuire said. “If a coach finds out that so-and-so is calling this many times, then he’s going to do it too, to show the kids that they want them as much. … It’s those coaches’ livelihood.”
Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, said he felt the texting issue would solve itself.
“Familiarity breeds contempt,” Teaff said, suggesting that recruiters would know their boundaries and try not to push too much.
Teaff said that college coaches were split on the texting issue but that there was a big push from the NCAA’s compliance office to make a change. Technological changes made some sort of rule alteration necessary, he said.
The NCAA instituted a texting ban in 2007, largely brought on by egregious infractions by several collegiate basketball coaches. Division I basketball coaches, however, recently pushed through reforms that allowed them to start texting recruits again in 2012.
One proposal that Teaff and college coaches did lobby against would have allowed for off-campus visits from coaches with recruits over the summer between the student’s sophomore and junior years, a year younger than the current calendar allows.
That proposal was tabled on Friday, to be revisited in April after further discussion and research.
“We requested that the board not approve that,” Teaff said. “We understand the collateral damage that would be done to high school programs if the calendar got any earlier. Earlier commitments [and visits] aren’t a positive thing for either college or high school programs, in my opinion.”
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.