The Division I Council acted Friday to offer potential Division I football student-athletes earlier opportunities for official visits to college campuses and increase their access to college coaches. The Council also acted to make the recruiting environment more transparent and better tied to high schools.
Current student-athletes also will have increased access to coaches under the football recruiting proposal, adopted as a package by the Council. The proposal comes a year after an attempt to more tightly restrict coaches’ participation in camps and clinics failed. At that time, the Division I Board of Directors asked the Council to come up with a more comprehensive plan to regulate the football recruiting environment for students and coaches.
Council chair Jim Phillips, Northwestern’s vice president for athletics and recreation, said the Council and its Division I Football Oversight Committee accepted the challenge that resulted in the new legislation.
“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,” he said. “Importantly, the action of the NCAA Division I Council delivers on the charge of the Division I Board of Directors to comprehensively improve the football recruiting environment. This affirms that the new Division I governance structure can effectively and timely address important issues.”
The new legislation accomplishes several things:
- It changes the recruiting calendar to allow for an early signing period in December (effective Aug. 1). Only the Collegiate Commissioners Association can create new National Letter of Intent signing periods.
- It adds a period for official visits that begins April 1 of the junior year and ends the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June of that year. Official visits can’t occur in conjunction with a prospect’s participation in a school’s camp or clinic (effective Aug. 1).
- It prevents Football Bowl Subdivision schools from hiring people close to a prospective student-athlete for a two-year period before and after the student’s anticipated and actual enrollment at the school. This provision was adopted in men’s basketball in 2010 (effective immediately, though schools may honor contracts signed before Jan. 18, 2017).
- Football Bowl Subdivision schools are limited to signing 25 prospective and current student-athletes to a first-time financial aid agreement or a National Letter of Intent. Exceptions exclude current student-athletes who have been enrolled full-time at the school for at least two years and prospective or current student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury (effective for recruits who sign after Aug. 1, 2017).
- It limits the time for Football Bowl Subdivision coaches to participate in camps and clinics to 10 days in June and July and requires that the camps take place on a school’s campus or in facilities regularly used by the school for practice or competition. Staff members with football-specific responsibilities are subject to the same restrictions. The Football Championship Subdivision can conduct and participate in camps during the months of June and July (effective immediately, though schools may honor contracts signed before Jan. 18, 2017).
- It allows coaches employed at a camp or clinic to have recruiting conversations with prospects participating in camps and clinics and requires educational sessions at all camps and clinics detailing initial eligibility standards, gambling rules, agent rules and drug regulations (effective immediately).
- It allows Football Bowl Subdivision schools to hire a 10th assistant coach (effective Jan. 9, 2018).
After an intense period of study by a subgroup of the Football Oversight Committee, that group recommended — and the Council introduced — the legislation adopted Friday. Some tweaks happened along the way, including changing effective dates and eliminating recruiting calendar adjustments to allow for a June National Letter of Intent signing period.
Football Oversight Committee chair Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, said the legislation was the result of widespread collaboration with numerous stakeholders.
“This is a significant move forward for football recruiting,” he said. “The entire package of rule changes is friendly for students, their families and their coaches. We will continue to monitor the recruiting environment to make sure the rules work as intended, and we will suggest adjustments when necessary.”
Football Bowl Subdivision members voted 14-1 for the proposal. Voting is weighted, with the autonomy conference representatives each receiving two votes and the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference representatives each receiving one vote.
Football Championship Subdivision representatives on the Council voted 12-1 for the proposal, as amended for FCS football. The provisions prohibiting the hiring of individuals associated with a prospect to noncoaching personnel positions and placing a hard cap on the number of initial signees were removed from the proposal because members do not believe those issues are as prevalent in the FCS. FCS members considered other amendments that would apply only to FCS football, and adopted one that allows the group to conduct camps and clinics in June and July .
Decisions are not final until the close of the Division I Board of Directors meeting April 26.
The Council also considered other legislation during its two-day meeting. Members:
- Tabled a proposal that would prohibit coaches from making verbal offers of athletics aid to prospects before Sept. 1 of the junior year. The delay allows for a broad review of early recruiting rules.
- Adopted a group of proposals changing some women’s basketball recruiting rules.
- Allowing off-campus contact beginning March 1 of the junior year through the day before the official start of the WBCA Convention.
- Allowing attendance at nonscholastic events during two weekends per year.
- Prohibiting the hiring of individuals associated with a prospect in noncoaching staff positions and at institutional camps.
- Allowing coaches to recruit during camps and clinics.
- Requiring all school-sponsored camps for women and girls to offer the same participation, registration procedure, fee structure, advertisement and logistical experience.
- Requiring all off-campus recruiting activities to count toward the limit on recruiting-person days, except during the July evaluation days.
- Adopted a proposal that would require graduate students to complete six degree-applicable hours each term to be eligible.
- Tabled a proposal that eliminates the counter limit and the minimum financial aid per student requirement in baseball.
- Defeated a proposal adding a permanent 12th game for the Football Championship Subdivision schools.