Pro­posed re­forms re­flect new re­al­ity

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

The NCAA group that pro­posed foot­ball re­cruit­ing re­forms wants to cre­ate more trans­parency and ac­cess for coaches and play­ers, which has been ac­cel­er­ated in re­cent years, a mem­ber says.

The NCAA com­mit­tee that pro­posed foot­ball re­cruit­ing re­forms, which in­clude the ad­di­tion of early sign­ing pe­ri­ods, wants to cre­ate more trans­parency and ac­cess for coaches and play­ers in a process that has been ac­cel­er­ated in re­cent years, said a key mem­ber of the group.

Ne­braska ath­letic di­rec­tor Shawn Ei­chorst told The As­so­ci­ated Press the foot­ball over­sight com­mit­tee cre­ated an in­ter­con­nected and com­pre­hen­sive pack­age of re­forms while ac­knowl­edg­ing the new re­al­i­ties of re­cruit­ing.

“I think you need to think about it in that more broad con­text,” Ei­chorst said in a phone interview Mon­day. “I know peo­ple want to pull pieces and talk about the pieces, but re­ally I think to un­der­stand and ex­plain the ra­tio­nale ap­pro­pri­ately, you’ve got to un­der­stand the whole process.”

The pro­posal would change when and where sum­mer camps and clin­ics can be held and limit so-called satel­lite camps. High school play­ers would be al­lowed to take of­fi­cial re­cruit­ing vis­its in the sum­mer be­fore their se­nior years, con­ceiv­ably cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for vis­its to be paired with at­tend­ing a camp. The pro­posed changes, which could go into ef­fect next year, would also al­low a 10th as­sis­tant foot­ball coach and set a hard cap of 25 signees per year. The piece of the pro­posal that has drawn the most de­bate is the cre­ation of two early sign­ing pe­ri­ods in June and De­cem­ber. The June pe­riod would al­low prospects to sign bind­ing na­tional let­ters of in­tent be­fore their se­nior years of high school. The Col­le­giate Com­mis­sion­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, which ad­min­is­ters the NLI, must ap­prove and im­ple­ment the new sign­ing pe­ri­ods.

“I hear the rea­son­ing is be­cause there’s so many de­com­mit­ments,” Ohio State coach Ur­ban Meyer said in Septem­ber about early sign­ing pe­ri­ods be­fore the Di­vi­sion I Coun­cil passed the over­sight com­mit­tee’s pro­posal in early Oc­to­ber. “So be­cause 17-year-olds are de­com­mit­ing, let’s give them a le­gal doc­u­ment so they can’t de-com­mit. That’s not very smart. Young peo­ple have a right to choose where they want to go to school. Pe­riod. Let them de-com­mit 100 times.”

Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban said he was against early sign­ing be­cause it could put play­ers who take big steps for­ward in their de­vel­op­ment as se­niors at a disadvantage af­ter early signees scoop up schol­ar­ships.

But there is no con­sen­sus among coaches. Michi­gan’s Jim Harbaugh is in fa­vor of an early sign­ing pe­riod. Clem­son’s Dabo Swin­ney liked the idea, but prefers the pe­riod be in Au­gust. Ari­zona coach Rich Ro­driguez has en­dorsed elim­i­nat­ing sign­ing pe­ri­ods al­to­gether, in­stead al­low­ing schools and prospects to sign when­ever both agree.

Mis­sis­sippi coach Hugh Freeze said the pro­pos­als make the re­cruit­ing process seem rushed.

Ei­chorst, who was chair­man of the sub­com­mit­tee that worked on the satel­lite camps is­sue, said the NCAA’s re­search in­di­cates the process al­ready is mov­ing faster than ever.

A re­cent sur­vey showed 30 per­cent of more than 1,400 foot­ball play­ers who signed a na­tional let­ter of in­tent gave ver­bal com­mit­ments dur­ing their ju­nior years or dur­ing the sum­mer be­fore their se­nior years.

“We wanted to get more trans­parency there,” Ei­chorst said. “In or­der to do that you had to re­order things a lit­tle bit be­cause what we know is there are a num­ber of kids who are be­ing iden­ti­fied, eval­u­ated, of­fered and com­mit be­fore they start their se­nior year. And they’re do­ing that without the ben­e­fit of of­fi­cial vis­its. And they’re do­ing that without the ben­e­fit of per­mis­si­ble off-cam­pus con­tact.” De-com­mit­ments and flip-flop­ping by highly touted re­cruits gets a lot of at­ten­tion, but it is still rel­a­tively un­com­mon. The sur­vey showed 82 per­cent of foot­ball signees ver­bally com­mit­ted prior to sign­ing. Of those, 90 per­cent signed where they com­mit­ted.

The NCAA also wants to bet­ter reg­u­late so-called third par­ties, such as sevenon-seven coaches who are of­ten not af­fil­i­ated with high schools, in the re­cruit­ing process and keep the em­pha­sis on high school coaches.

The re­forms are also sup­posed to al­le­vi­ate what can seem like non­stop re­cruit­ing for coaches.

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