Just before Christmas, the NCAA released a package of recruiting regulatory proposals designed to change the recruiting calendar, lift restrictions on how and how often coaches can contact recruits, and allow athletes to accept more money for participating in non-scholastic events.
Change and attempts to simplify NCAA rules related to the aforementioned areas should be positive step, but there may be unintended ramifications for non-BCS schools and student athletes related to these most recent measures.
“Smarter rules and tougher enforcement” are the stated goals. No argument against that here, but the bigger picture needs to be taken into consideration.
For example, changing the recruiting calendar would allow off-campus contact with recruits beginning the first day of their junior year in high school and communication with recruits on or after July 1 following their sophomore year. While this provides more access and interaction between coach and prospective student-athlete, it will place more demands on assistant and head coaches’ time. Particularly in the case of assistant coaches, they will be more limited in their ability to devote time to true coaching related and player development areas thereby limiting both their athletes’ and coaches’ development. This particularly conflicts with the recent access provided to coaches to develop their players in the summer session – these coaches now will be be pulled away to devote time to texting, calling and emailing their recruits.
It seems that under this proposed rule – one of many to be voted on Jan. 19 – schools that can spend on resources and technology will have an advantage. More financial resources also opens the doors to more technology benefits; kids these days communicate primarily thru Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging – so schools with the financial and technological wherewithal to automate communication via these platforms will be able to cover more ground and further separate the haves (particularly BCS) and have-nots. It will extend the arms race in college athletics from facilities to technology development.
However, there may, in fact be a residual benefit for mid-majors and below as this earlier access to recruits will lead to more early commitments to BCS-level schools. Accordingly, lower-tier programs will benefit by having access to late-bloomers (if I was a mid to low major coach, I would hold and recruit these leftovers).
The potential recruits will most likely become inundated with communication from schools, potentially causing academic distractions at a time when the NCAA has tightened up rules for eligibility for this current freshman high school class. Moms and Dads, you think you spend time now helping with homework? Image being the filter for the tsunami of text messages your promising athlete will receive.
While parents may want to brush up on their social media skills, they also might want to invest in a bigger mailbox. One proposed change would eliminate restrictions on sending printed recruiting materials to athletes. Sounds fine but this, too, benefits the larger schools with deeper pockets. Financially well off schools can create more and better looking recruiting materials, thereby putting schools with smaller recruiting budgets at a disadvantage.
As a former head basketball coach I know that the NCAA has the best intentions in mind when it created these changes. Simplifying and standardizing the rules is a huge step forward for coaches, administrators and NCAA enforcers. An increased level of due diligence and relationship building for both the recruits and coaches will hopefully lead to a more fulfilling college and athletic experience. The downside to this will be that early commits who have leveled off will, as a result, either be dropped or not get playing time at the college level. So it may not necessarily result in “better recruiting decisions from both the coach and PSA,” as stated by Clemson President Barker, the working group chair.
What will result in better decisions are extensive full-game evaluations throughout an athlete’s career which is why we developed Recruiting Sports Network. It’s critical for athletes, parents, and coaches to be as professional and extensive as possible in their due diligence, and maybe hold off before making a decision devoid of all the facts and history.