In a little more than a month, the NCAA has apparently heard enough pushback from college football coaches and athletic directors on its massive deregulation of recruiting rules to recommend suspending two of the biggest proposals it passed in late January.
The two rules:
Prop. No. 11-2, which allowed programs to hire an unlimited number of on-campus recruiters and talent evaluators.
Prop. No. 13-5-A, which eliminated restrictions on all printing materials.
“Some coaches and administrators expressed concern deregulation in this area might lead to a recruiting arms race that will overwhelm prospects, college coaches and athletics department budgets. Much of the anxiety is specific to football, though the concerns could translate to any sport,” the NCAA’s release read in part.
According to John Infante’s Bylaw Blog, both of these proposals had received 27 override votes from member programs since late January; 75 is needed for an override vote, but overrides tend to come late in the review process. If the NCAA gets 75 overrides, then 5/8 of the Division I membership has to override the rule for it to disappear.
The NCAA’s had a tough last 12 months. No need in making it tougher.
By recommending a suspension of these two rules, let’s face it: They’re changing. You don’t suspend rules that’ll easily survive the override vote. The question is: How much?
The backlash on the deregulating printed materials was pretty strong, if only because it’s a pain to start expanding the media guides to 400 pages again, and it’s pain to deliver a Fat Head of Urban Meyer’s face to some kid’s apartment door. The Bylaw Blog speculates that a potential change could ease deregulation on what’s posted online, but keep restrictions on printed material the same.
In terms of rhetoric, the staff size proposal had more nuances to it if, at this time, the same number of override votes. Of those opposed, there arose a concern that some schools would hire a ton of on-campus recruiters, thus leaving the school on the hook for keeping or dumping, say, 50 employees instead of just a coaching staff when a coach moves on/gets fired. You’d have to pay those folks, too. Alabama might be fine — so long as Nick Saban doesn’t have an itch to get back in the NFL.
A potential change: Expand the definition of recruiting to include on-campus recruiters who are not assistant coaches, but limit the number of recruiters who can do that work. Some schools might fudge the rules a bit — some schools do now — but they wouldn’t hire a call center.
The NCAA’s Board of Directors did not receive a recommendation from its Rules Working Group to suspend the unlimited number of text messages and phone calls to recruits. There are 19 override votes on that proposal right now. The NCAA simply couldn’t reasonably monitor phone and text behavior under the current rules, and the market may correct itself here pretty quickly. How many kids really want 50 texts a day?
Nebraska, by the way, has not submitted an override request on any proposal, according to athletic director Shawn Eichorst. When asked if NU would, Eichorst responded via email through his spokeswoman: “We will continue to monitor and discuss the implications of the recent deregulation of certain recruiting-based legislation. However, we have made no final decisions at this point.”