It looks as though NCAA football recruiting deregulation will be stunted for at least this year.
Last week, the NCAA’s Rules Working Group recommended that the Division I Board of Directors suspend and modify at its May 2 meeting two of three contentious proposals passed in February.
The recommendations will hold Proposals 11-2 (the elimination of the requirement that only a head coach or assistant could perform the functions of recruiting coordinator) and Proposal 13-5-A (which would’e eliminated restrictions on printed materials sent to prospects).
No action was taken on perhaps the most contentious proposal, 13-3, which would remove numerical limitations and modes of recruiting communication from college coaches to prospects, including text messaging.
On Feb. 11, the Big Ten put out a statement against all three proposals.
“We have serious concerns whether these proposals, as currently written, are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches,” the league wrote. “We are also concerned about the adverse effect they would have on college coaches, administrators and university resources.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and athletics director Gary Barta were not fans of these changes, which more closely followed the basketball recruiting model and opened the door to legions of recruiting specialists at schools.
“It sounds like this thing’s slowing down a little bit on the total free‑for‑all that was being proposed,” Ferentz said Feb. 22. “At least, hopefully, whenever this clears up a little bit, there will be some good guidelines.
“I know that’s an issue that the NCAA’s been looking at for quite a while. How do you define who is who, and what is what? I think we have to be really careful and make sure they work under the constraints and regulations.”
Still, Iowa was ready to act, and still is, if Proposal 13-3 sticks. A recruiting staff in some way, shape or form would be needed to buffer that task from the day-to-day of actually coaching the football team and everything else that goes with that.
“If that door opens up, we’d have to be open to it,” Ferentz said. “We’d be foolish not to be, but I do think that train slowed down a little bit, it sounds like at least.”
It was a topic at Tuesday’s Presidential Committee on Athletics.
“If people have the budget to do so, why not have a room full of people who are doing nothing but texting and calling [recruits],” UI men’s gymnastics coach JD Reive said. “It becomes a little bit ridiculous and could be overwhelming for the student-athlete.”
According to ESPN.com, Big Ten football coaches still want 13-3 to be tabled for further discussion. Tuesday, the coaches held a teleconference and unanimously voted to recommend to their athletic directors and presidents to submit override votes if no action is taken.
The Division I Board must review any proposal that receives 75 override votes, and if 125 override votes are received by March 20, the legislation would be suspended pending a vote of members. The new legislation would go into effect Aug. 1 unless the board suspends it in May.
– On Tuesday, Barta offered not so much updates, but validations on the conventional wisdom that seems to be the current in the Big Ten in regard to divisions and schedules when Rutgers and Maryland join the league in 2014.
“We’re getting closer and closer on it, and I think we have to,” Barta said. “At some point this summer, we’ve got to plan. Football scheduling goes so far out.”
Also, it’s not just football and men’s basketball. Barta said he’s heard from other Iowa coaches wondering how the divisions will work.
– On divisions, “It looks like we’re headed toward a little more of an east-west divisional set up,” Barta said. “I think there would be a lot of pluses to that. One of the benefits we would have is if it goes that way, all of the sudden we’ll play Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, Northwestern, all of the people around us.
“It would be nice from that perspective.”
– On nine or 10-game schedules, “It does sound like we’re going to nine games,” Ferentz said. “It sounds like that train’s going down the track right now, too.
“Those are probably the two big things that came out of the meetings a week or so ago, so whatever we decide there, we’ll adjust it, and live with it. Certainly, nine games would be a new experience for us, but as long as everybody’s playing by the same rules and principles, that’s the way it is.”
If the question is nine or 10, Ferentz prefers nine.
“That would be my first instinct, and kind of go from there,” he said. “Then, obviously the five-and-four thing [number of conference home games a season] is a tough equation. I don’t know if we’re ready for 10 yet or not.”
– Barta touched on football season ticket renewals.
“It’s still early in the process,” Barta said. “Anecdotally, it’s feeling very good. People are renewing, whether it’s for premium seating in the club areas or general season tickets. So far, there is a lot of positive response.”
[NOTE: Efforting numbers. Will post if/when I get them.]
Virtual tour of the Phase II part of Iowa’s football operations facility (courtesy of the UI)
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