Recruiting: Visit loophole draws fire

Coaches want to extend ban on spring trips to high schools to ‘coaches in waiting’

jperson@thestate.com May 29, 2008 

DESTIN, Fla. — The so-called “Saban Rule” likely will have a “Joker Addendum.”

A year after proposing the rule adopted by the NCAA that prohibits football head coaches from visiting high schools during the spring evaluation period, SEC officials are expected to close a loophole that allowed a few teams to send their “head coaches in waiting” into schools during the recruiting period that began April 15 and ends Saturday.

The original rule targeted Alabama’sNick Saban, who was accused of making impermissible contact with players last year during recruiting visits to south Florida high schools.

The proposed addition to the rule appears to be directed at Kentucky offensive coordinator Joker Phillips, who after last season was designated as Rich Brooks’ successor.

Although LSU’s Les Miles did not specifically mention Phillips when describing the coaches’ proposal Wednesday at the SEC spring meetings, Phillips is one of three assistants nationally who has been introduced as his school’s next coach.

Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Purdue’s Danny Hope are the others.

“If they’re the predetermined head coach, then the advantage is to them to walk into that school,” Miles said. “If they’re next head coaches, then they should have to deal with those same rules that the head coach has to.”

Making the grade. USC coach Steve Spurrier said the Gamecocks made it through the spring semester in good shape academically with the exception of one player, who is trying to get a grade changed to remain eligible.

Spurrier declined to identify the player, but said twin brothers Dustin and Jordin Lindsey are eligible. Both have missed a season because of academics.

Welcome aboard, coach. New Gamecocks women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley should know what type of team she has before the start of SEC play. Besides opening the season at home against Clemson, USC faces a pair of Final Four teams in Columbia within a week in December.

USC plays host to NCAA runner-up Stanford on Dec. 21 and UConn, which lost to Stanford in the semifinals, on Dec. 28. Staley has no qualms with the nonconference schedule left by former coach Susan Walvius.

“We’re up for the challenge,” Staley said. “You have to measure yourself against some of the best teams in the country.”

Jones update. Former Gamecocks guard Jordan Jones, an Atlanta-area native who led USC in scoring as a freshman, is considering at least three SEC schools — Georgia, Kentucky and Florida — as well as Georgia Tech, according to an SEC coach. Jones, who ranked ninth in the SEC last season with 13.1 points a game, was released from her scholarship at USC two weeks ago.

Tee it up. Add mashing a golf ball to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow’s list of accomplishments. The Heisman Trophy winner turned heads by crushing 370-yard drives following Gators coach Urban Meyer’s charity event this spring at Florida’s golf course.

It was not enough that Tebow, who plays once or twice a year, was nearly driving the green on a 376-yard par-4 hole. Meyer said the left-hander was hitting the tee shots with a draw.

“It was something,” Meyer said.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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