Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: No limits on calls or texts to HS football recruits from college coaches? New NCAA proposal like pairing gasoline, fire
Nearly 10 years have passed since the National Do Not Call Registry began crimping telemarketers, but you probably remember the flow of calls. They were selling life insurance, offering credit cards and telling us we were winners in drawings we had never entered.
I was thinking about that stream of calls as I looked at one of the new football recruiting proposals that will be presented at the NCAA Convention, which is Wednesday through Saturday in Grapevine. It would lift the limit on how often college coaches and school officials could call and text a high school recruit.
The current rule is that coaches can call a recruit once a week and cannot text him, so the NCAA isn’t proposing a baby step. This will be a giant leap that lands with a crash on a recruit’s head — and his wireless plan.
“That really could pour some gasoline on it,” Lancaster coach Chris Gilbert said.
No doubt about it. The recruiting landscape would be a brushfire of phone calls and texts from coaches and school officials to top players. Under the proposal, the unlimited phone calls and texts can start on July 1 before a recruit’s junior year.
“It’s good the way it is now. I don’t think they need any more contact,” said Gilbert, coach of a trio of Lancaster seniors ranked among the area’s top-100 recruits. “More contact with the players is going to put more pressure on them. There will be more decommits.”
Another NCAA proposal would allow coaches to make visits to the schools and homes of recruits during their junior year. Currently coaches can only make those visits during a recruit’s senior year.
Combined, the proposals would press fast-forward on a recruiting process that is already swerving on the racetrack. But the NCAA wants to make the changes as part of a streamlining of rules.
The rules do need to be simplified because the NCAA can’t handle the burden of trying to enforce the current ones. But by throwing up its hands and allowing college coaches and school officials to become telemarketers, the NCAA shifts the burden to the high school athletes.
Imagine the recruit’s level of distraction from school. Imagine how difficult it will be for a top recruit to break away. Imagine how many kids will feel pressured into giving oral commitments just to swat away some vultures.
Not that an oral commitment would stop all of them. The commitments are nonbinding, and the recruiting process doesn’t really end until signing day. There will be no way for a recruit to escape it because there is no early-signing period for football.
So what about creating an early-signing period?
NCAA conference commissioners rejected the idea in 2009, but it’s still debated. It’s very much a double-edged sword, however.
If the NCAA allowed a recruit to sign in August before his senior year, for example, it would allow him to lock up his choice and not be bothered anymore.
But a binding agreement requires careful consideration, and most recruits aren’t ready to choose by then. And if players are allowed to sign then, college coaches will push for the early signatures the way they push for the oral commitments now.
Unfortunately, nobody really has the answer for effective reform in the murky world of recruiting. Over the last two decades, the recruiting game has mushroomed into prime-time, slime-time entertainment, and there might be nothing that can stop its growth.
But the NCAA proposals will only add another ring to the circus, and football recruits will be trapped in it.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon
Also on the table
Four more NCAA recruiting proposals that could have an impact:
Removing the limits on the number of coaches who can recruit off-campus at any one time.
Allowing schools to treat prospects like student-athletes once a National Letter of Intent or signed offer of admission or financial aid is received.
Eliminating limits on how much printed material can be sent to recruits.
Deregulating camps and clinics employment rules related to both recruits and current student-athletes. Senior football prospects would be allowed to participate in camps and clinics.