Published Thursday, March 21, 2013 AT 10:33 AM / Updated at 12:08 PM
Recruiting: Unlimited calls/texts proposal heading for override vote
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

The third most controversial proposal in the NCAA’s recent round of recruiting deregulations — unlimited calls and texts to football prospects — is headed for an override vote after receiving more than 75 override requests by Wednesday’s deadline.

Override votes do not win easily. The NCAA requires 62.5 percent of those voting in the 330-member body to override a proposal. So if, for example, 300 of them vote, 188 of them would have to vote to overturn the proposal. Otherwise the proposal is, at the very least, in play for one year.

The NCAA, remember, suspended entirely the proposals for unlimited on-campus recruiting staff and deregulation of printed materials. Unless the NCAA chooses now to review and suspend the unlimited calls/texts proposal, an override vote is completely different. It’ll be a yes/no, keep it all/toss it kind of decision. Override votes are common; the NCAA doesn’t cringe at every proposal for an override. The extra stipend money that the NCAA wanted to provide to student-athletes went to an override vote, for example.

ESPN’s Big Ten blog reported Thursday that all 12 Big Ten coaches voted unanimously March 12 to tell their athletic directors and college presidents to submit override requests. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini — and some of his assistants — were on the record with local reporters about their concerns.

But NU wasn’t one of the schools that submitted an override request, Nebraska associate athletic director for compliance Jamie Vaughn told me. That doesn’t mean athletic director Shawn Eichort (or, technically, UNL chancellor Harvey Perlman) won’t vote to override the proposal later if it comes to a vote. But, for now, Nebraska’s administration is taking a middle-ground approach.

On the phone matter, I can appreciate a wait-and-see perspective. If there was any proposal where the “market,” if you will, might correct itself most quickly, it’s with the unlimited phone calls and texts. I don’t think some kids would want any part of it, and coaches who wanted that players’ commitment would sense it quickly. And there are some benefits to the deregulation. Assistants wouldn’t have to ask recruiting sites to call a kid for feedback that, whenever you’re dealing with the media, tends to comes through with a “everything is roses” mentality anyway. In basketball, it helps eliminate the “runner” or middle man that tried to lord over a kid’s college choice, and youth football is starting to get those folks lurking around, too. No longer would a coach have to sweet talk some uncle, who hopefully sweet talks his nephew. Coach can just sweet talk the prospect himself. There’s something to be said for a direct coach-to-player sweet talk.

The flip side of the coin is the old slippery slope argument from high school debate: If one assistant coach has great success as a glorified stalker of a four-star, then every other assistant has to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, which basically gets us back to the early 1980s meat market of football recruiting (minus the bags of cash, new red Cameros, gold chains and Puma sweatsuits.) Or you don’t jump off the bridge and risk losing recruits. And if you lose recruits, you have to explain it by playing the integrity card. That didn’t work for Husker baseball coach Mike Anderson. How much less would it fly for Pelini?

Intriguing times, these.

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.