High School Sports

January 27, 2013

New rules ease cell contact

For young football recruits, the recent changes enacted by the NCAA might require another cellphone — or at least another charger.

For young football recruits, the recent changes enacted by the NCAA might require another cellphone — or at least another charger.

The NCAA’s Board of Directors passed 25 of 26 proposals in an attempt to make the NCAA’s labyrinthine Division I manual more streamlined. The changes, which passed with “virtual unanimity” according to NCAA president Mark Emmert, are designed to make the rulebook easier to comply with, easier to enforce and less focused on irrelevant infractions.

But, in doing so, the proposals eliminate several current provisions related to recruiting, throwing the doors open for major college football programs to engage in near-constant contact between themselves and high school recruits.

Among the rule changes that will go into effect on Aug. 1 are four specifically relating to recruiting:

•  Proposal 13-3, allowing coaches to send unlimited texts and social media messages to recruits, as well as make unlimited phone calls.
•  Proposal 13-5-A, which eliminates restrictions on printed recruiting materials sent to recruits.
•  Proposal 11-2, allowing for a recruiting coordinator or the support staff at a university to send texts and make calls, as opposed to the current system, which permit only coaches to do so.
•  And Proposal 11-4, allowing all assistants to be on the road recruiting at the same time, as opposed to the current rules that require coaches’ trips to be staggered.

“This is a movement toward greater responsibility at the institutional level that will allow them more flexibility, and will focus the rules on the things that are real threats to the integrity of sport — rather than things that are mostly annoying,” Emmert said.

Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, said the texting issue would solve itself.

“Familiarity breeds contempt,” Teaff said, suggesting that recruiters would know their boundaries and try not to push too much.

One proposal that Teaff and college coaches did lobby against would have allowed for off-campus visits from coaches with recruits over the summer between the student’s sophomore and junior years, a year younger than the current calendar allows.

That proposal was tabled, to be revisited in April after further discussion and research.

“We understand the collateral damage that would be done to high school programs if the calendar got any earlier,” Teaff said. “Earlier commitments (and visits) aren’t a positive thing for either college or high school programs, in my opinion.”

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