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DI Leadership Council approves new football recruiting changes

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

The Division I Leadership Council approved new football recruiting rules and a model that will allow football coaches increased access to student-athletes in the summer. The measures, approved during the Oct. 23-24 meeting in Indianapolis, now go to the Division I Board of Directors for consideration Wednesday.

A subcommittee of the council, charged with leading a proactive and comprehensive review of recruiting issues identified by football coaches, recommended the changes after several months of study. That research included surveys of both student-athletes and coaches, andhe proposals are the first step toward fulfilling its mission.

If adopted, the proposals would:

  • Allow football student-athletes to participate in eight hours per week of required weight training, conditioning and film review during an eight-week period during the summer. Student-athletes who participate in the summer activities must be enrolled in summer school or meet specific academic benchmarks. The proposed model is similar to those adopted by men’s and women’s basketball in the last two years. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported the summer access piece.

  • Prohibit a school’s staff members from attending an all-star game or activities associated with those games and from having in-person contact with recruits participating in the games from the time the recruit arrives at the event until he returns to his home or school. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported the all-star game ban.

  • Establish a dead period when no in-person recruiting can take place. This time would run from the Monday of the week in which mid-year junior college transfers can begin signing the National Letter of Intent through the Wednesday of the week of the annual American Football Coaches Association convention. The dead period now begins the Friday after the junior college signing period and ends the Sunday of the week of the AFCA convention. This proposal would, for 2013-14, make Dec. 16 through Jan. 15 a dead period. Only the Football Bowl Subdivision supported this proposal. The Football Championship Subdivision representatives believed its coaches need more time to discuss the concept.

  • Establish a 14-day dead period in late June andearly July for Football Bowl Subdivision schools. The Football Bowl Subdivision supported this proposal.

  • Allow schools to pay for meals for up to four family members who accompany a recruit on an official visit. Current rules allow schools to pay for the recruit and his parents, legal guardians, spouse or children, but exclude siblings and other family members. This approach provides schools more flexibility to address each recruit’s specific family situation. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivision supported making the rule more flexible.

Like the subcommittee, council members believe the changes will promote a healthy recruiting environment for both the students being recruited and the football coaches. They also believe it will protect the integrity of the recruiting process.

For example, barring recruiting associated with high school all-star games could minimize the influence of third parties in the recruiting process, such as agents, advisers and runners, as well as keep the focus on scholastic competitions for recruiting. Also, extending the winter dead period and adding a summer dead period would allow coaches and recruits a break from the recruiting process while still ensuring appropriate time for everyone to make informed recruiting decisions.

The subcommittee provided extensive data to reinforce its recommendations. A survey of head coaches, assistant coaches and athletics directors showed widespread support for each of the concepts.

“We took a proactive and comprehensive look at the issues brought forward by our football coaches,” said Kirby Hocutt, athletics director at Texas Tech, who led the subcommittee that brought its recommendations to the full council. “We believe we were able to move the ball forward in our recommendation to the Board of Directors. The five items will have a positive impact on the football recruiting environment.”

The Board will consider the proposals at its meeting Wednesday. They could be adopted immediately, as recommended by the council, or delayed to allow for the completion of this year’s recruiting cycle. The subcommittee recommended an immediate effective date for all the proposals. At its Oct. 21 meeting, the Legislative Council recommended the meals legislation have an Aug. 1, 2014 effective date for budget and planning purposes. The Board will consider the effective date as part of the package.