CLEMSON — Protecting and maintaining its status as a top college football program becomes further challenging for Clemson if a new set of NCAA recruiting guidelines kicks into gear later this year.
The NCAA Board of Directors last month approved sweeping revisions to its Division-I rulebook described as a “common sense approach.” The recommendations, submitted by a committee chaired by Clemson president Jim Barker, included deregulation of rules on the methods and frequency of contact with recruits.
No longer will there be quiet periods or dead periods for recruiters or limits on text messages. More people will be permitted to recruit. The coordinator may no longer be a member of the coaching staff, and additional support personnel may be added. And there will be no limit on the material sent to recruits.
“It’s going to be crazy, to be honest with you,” coach Dabo Swinney said after securing his third straight top-15 freshman class on national signing day. “The rules are going to drastically change the way business is done.”
While Swinney said he does not like many of the changes because of the potential impact on the lives of prospective recruits, their families and high school coaches, he felt confident Clemson had positioned itself to compete with the most prominent programs.
“There already are folks that have huge, enormous support staffs with a lot of finances committed to that support staff. Not a little finance, a lot of it,” he said, counting Clemson among them. “Not everybody’s going to be able to do that. It’s basically going to make that gap bigger between the haves and the have-nots.”
In December 2011, Barker revealed that the review would begin in January 2012 as an outgrowth of an initiative the previous summer. Part of the mandate was to streamline the rules. According to an Associated Press story, approximately 25 pages were eliminated from the 500-page rulebook, many because of the difficulty of policing and enforcing the rules. Swinney saw the potential for a whole new set of problems.
“Basically what they have done is deregulate everything. Everybody can spend their money where they want to spend it,” he said.
Former South Carolina coach Brad Scott and longtime assistant Woody McCorvey already serve in prominent support roles on the Clemson staff, and Swinney implied their roles could expand. “Hopefully we can separate ourselves because of the manpower,” he said.
The new rules free every coach to be on the road recruiting and allow for adding more people with “everybody calling, everybody texting. That’s the really sad part to me,” he said. “I just don’t think that’s good.
“For these prospects, that’s going to be everyday all day. That’s not going to stop,” he said. “It’s going to be a relentless machine at some places because they can and they will.”
Coaches were consulted during the process and the final vote should come in April with the rules kicking in by August.
“I don’t see it changing,” he said. “I don’t particularly like it, but I’m thankful that I’m in a place like Clemson because we can definitely compete and we’re going to have to.”