College Sports

NCAA adopts early signing period, 10th coach for football

South Carolina Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp directs his team before the USC Spring Game at Williams-Brice Stadium.
South Carolina Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp directs his team before the USC Spring Game at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The NCAA endorsed a football recruiting rules overhaul on Friday that will allow high school football players to sign with colleges as early as December and put a two-year waiting period on Bowl Subdivision teams from hiring people close to a recruit.

If approved by the Board of Governors on April 26, the signing period change would take effect Aug. 1. The Collegiate Commissioners Association would need to change the dates, a move expected to happen in June. The change would allow recruits to make official visits between April and June of their junior year in high school.

The Division I Council also backed a measure to eliminate two-a-day practices that would take effect immediately if approved.

“Today’s adoption of the football legislation marks the most significant progress in recent years to improve the football environment and culture for current and prospective student-athletes and coaches,” committee chairman Jim Phillips said in a statement. Phillips is Northwestern’s vice president for athletics and recreation.

Not all of the proposals passed, including a push for a June signing period.

“The June date, there was resistance to that, especially among coaches, but we’re going to take a look at whether we can find one that’s earlier (than December),” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, chairman of the Division I football oversight committee.

Schools will be limited to signing only 25 recruits per year, in hopes of eliminating “oversigning.” Exceptions will be made for current players who have attended classes for at least two years and athletes who suffer incapacitating injuries.

In February, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said he was for an early signing period, but didn’t like the rules allowing for earlier visits.

“You’re talking about a guy shutting down his senior year and not wanting to play because he’s already got a scholarship secured,” Muschamp said. “Because he’s already taken his official visits. He’s ready to go to college. Taking official visits in the summer, I don’t want to get into that business.”

NCAA football recruiting changes at a glance

Highlights from the football recruiting rules changes adopted Friday by the NCAA Division I Council:

▪ Contact at practice limited to once per preseason day. The move to eliminate “two-a-days” comes after another NCAA committee issued a blanket waiver to allow the football preseason to start up to a week earlier, though the maximum number of preseason practices remains 29.

▪ The recruiting calendar will include an early signing period in December beginning this year, pending an expected schedule change by the Collegiate Commissioners Association.

▪ Recruits can make official visits beginning April 1 through late June of their junior year in high school. They can’t occur in conjunction with a university’s camp or clinic.

▪ Bowl Subdivision schools barred from hiring people “close to a prospective student-athlete” for a two-year period before and after the student’s anticipated and actual enrollment (schools may honor contracts signed before Jan. 18, 2017).

▪ Bowl Subdivision schools limited to signing 25 prospective and current players to a first-time financial aid agreement or a National Letter of Intent. Exceptions: Current players who have been enrolled full-time at the school for at least two years and those who suffer an incapacitating injury (effective for recruits who sign after Aug. 1).

▪ Bowl Subdivision coaches and staff limited to participating in camps and clinics to 10 days in June and July at camps on a school’s campus or in facilities regularly used by the school for practice or play.

▪ Coaches employed at a camp or clinic may have recruiting conversations with participants. Educational sessions on initial eligibility standards, gambling rules, agent rules and drug regulations required.

▪ Bowl Subdivision schools may hire a 10th assistant football coach (effective Jan. 9).

▪ Adopted a proposal that would require graduate students to complete six degree-applicable hours each term to be eligible.

All changes are subject to final approval by the Division I Board of Directors, which meets on April 26.

Associated Press