After five years of drawing up, debating, and ultimately scrapping countless proposals that would change the landscape of NCAA recruiting, change is finally here.
On April 14th, the NCAA Division I Council passed Proposal No. 2016-116, a package of rule changes brought about due to the NCAA Division I board of directors (university presidents and chancellors) becoming increasingly tired of the issues that have been surrounding recruiting for years.
Many aspects of the new recruiting rules are designed to keep a much more clear and consistent base of recruiting standards that all programs in the NCAA will have to adhere to.
Some of the new rules approved in Proposal No. 2016-116 are:
A December Signing Period
Coaches and university administrators initially debated a June signing date but received a lot of pushback from other college and high school coaches because it would speed up the recruiting process even more. Also, athletic directors were leery of a June signing date primarily because if a coach is fired in November – when many are – they would likely already have two-thirds of the following year’s class signed.
By December, the overwhelming majority of AD’s have already made the decision to keep or fire their current coach and after the mid-December, most coaches leave a program only to take a promotion elsewhere (think Chip Kelly leaving Oregon for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in January 2013). In this case, athletic directors would have the option to release any high school athlete from their LOI, which they would do so their new coach could make offers to kids that better fit their system.
Addition Of A 10th Assistant Coach
Starting Jan. 9, 2018, universities will be able to hire a 10th assistant football coach who would be allowed to coach on the field and go on the road recruiting, unlike the “analysts” programs have now. Their roles will vary as to the different needs schools have; some may be hired on as a dedicated special teams coach others may join the staff as an additional position coach. This also benefits head coaches whose coordinators are handling specific position coaching as well. For instance, a team whose offensive coordinator is also the quarterbacks coach can now focus on solely calling the offense because the 10th assistant can handle the QB coaching duties.
Limit On Hiring People Associated With Recruits
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and Alabama’s Nick Saban have both been openly critical of the new rule banning the hiring of an “individual associated with a prospect” to support positions for two years before and after the prospect signs but for two different reasons. The ban includes people who could be a high school coach, a seven-on-seven coach, or even a parent. The example given by SI’s Andy Staples:
“In other words, a school that signs five-star cornerback Bobby Lockdown may not hire his high school secondary coach as a director of high school relations and his seven-on-seven coach as a defensive analyst. Schools still may hire such a person as an on-field assistant or head coach, so Lockdown’s buddies can still get jobs where Lockdown signs as long as the head coach trusts them to coach linebackers or tight ends.”
Malzahn, a former high school coach, believes this rule will restrict the movement between the coaching ranks between high school and college.
Saban is not on board because the ban will keep programs from paying high school coaches to work summer camps.
“There are lots of shenanigans going on in the camp environment where a high school coach or a seven-on-seven coach shows up with a busload of kids and gets a big honorarium for bringing them to camp and they are all having so-called unofficial visits,” said Big 12 commissioner and chairman of the NCAA’s Division I football oversight committee Bob Bowlsby. “We needed to clean up the camp environment, and this legislation does that.”
The issue is, it doesn’t. Programs can now just pay these high school coaches under the table for the same services that used to be regulated. There is no incentive for these coaches to behave responsibly when bringing kids into the camps.
Earlier Official Visits
Effective starting with the class of 2019, high school players will now be able to go on official visits from April until June of his or hers junior year, instead of having to wait until September of their senior year.
Limiting Satellite Camps
This rule change is actually a compromise.
Programs will have 10 days in June to hold camps instead of the previous two 15-day periods in June or July and those camps must be held on a college campus. Multiple staffs can still work together to host a camp at a school near a recruiting hotbed – like at the University of Miami – but schools can no longer go on a month-long recruiting camp tour ala Jim Harbaugh and the University of Michigan.
“Meanwhile, Ohio State (for example) could still invite every MAC coaching staff to come work its camp. This practice would have been banned by the council’s ham-handed initial ruling. The ability of coaches from less wealthy programs to work the camps of wealthier programs helps the less-wealthy programs and helps the recruits who might not have otherwise been connected with those programs. For example, a player who goes to South Carolina’s camp may not realize at first that he isn’t good enough to get a scholarship for the Gamecocks. At the camp, he might meet a coach from Presbyterian who might never have encountered him otherwise. The end result might be a school finding a player perfect for that school’s level and a player getting a scholarship he might never have known about otherwise.”