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NCAA Division I council overhauls recruiting practices and staff hiring rules

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Scholarship distribution and practice structures have also affected by rules changes.

Central Michigan defensive linemen go through position drills during spring practices at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mt. Pleasant, MI.
James H. Jimenez

The NCAA Division I Council met earlier Friday to pass a series of proposals to overhaul the recruiting process for the foreseeable future.

Proposal 2016-116 changes around some rules regarding official visits, allowing prospects to take school-paid visits starting April 1 of their junior year through the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June. The change will come into effect in August and will affect the 2019 recruiting class.

The proposal is largely seen as the first step towards a new early-signing period format, which the council is expected to revisit in meetings scheduled for June. Under this new proposal, the early-signing period would start in mid-December.

This change could be seen as a boon for Group of Five recruiting, as it could allow G5 schools to retain higher-rated recruits before Power Five schools have a chance to swoop in.

However, it could also be seen as a deterrent; under the current system, most scholarship offers are accepted or offered in February, just before National Signing Day, which allows plenty of time for last-minute offers. The move to December could result in a decrease of potential “hidden gem” discoveries or otherwise keep recruits from other, potentially larger opportunities.

Packaged with the proposal was language allowing schools to hire a 10th staff assistant coach. This was passed to try and stave of a major problem that recruiting had incurred in the hiring of high school coaches as non-coach “staffers.”

Jim Harbaugh recently drew the ire of many in sports media for attempting to hire the coach and father of a major recruit in the current cycle, while it is widely believed the University of Alabama may have up to 97 coaches and staffers.

The new rules would create guidelines similar to those in college basketball, where universities cannot hire high school coaches as a non-coach. Penalties include permanent ineligibility for the player and suspensions of head coaches or assistant coaches. The changes would take place effective immediately, retroactive to Jan. 18.

Other changes passed include:

  • Coaches now only have 10 days to conduct camps in June, rather than two 10-15 day periods in June and/or July. The camps also have to be conducted on-campus or on associated grounds (such as practice facilities.)
  • Annual scholarships are now reduced to 25 per year for those offered in the fall. This is meant to try and kill the “greyshirting” practice, where coaches over-sign in a particular class and add those overflow players to the next recruiting class by delaying their signing.
  • The summer dead period for recruiting has been extended to include the entire month of August and a period from late June to July.
  • Two-a-day practices have been eliminated due to safety concerns. Instead, the universities will allow an extra week of preseason practices and be given free reign over how to distribute their 29 practices. Schools can use a maximum of three hours practice time per day.