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DI Leadership Council to begin men’s basketball recruiting assessment

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

Division I men’s basketball recruiting rules could get a makeover as early as 2012, depending on recommendations that come from the Leadership Council in the coming months.

The January Council meeting will be the first since the Board of Directors directed the group to study the sport’s recruiting model.

The directive came after the Collegiate Commissioners Association asked the Board to both abandon summer recruiting in men’s basketball immediately and to study the overall recruiting environment, described by some as “toxic.” While the Board declined to take hasty action without a full study, the presidents did agree that the issue needs a complete examination.

Board Chair Judy Genshaft, president of South Florida, said the men’s basketball recruiting process is unique, especially at the higher levels where the process has shifted from the high schools and toward third parties.

“In many instances, recruiting is influenced by youth team coaches, sports agents, shoe company representatives and others,” Genshaft said. “In my opinion, these parties don’t always have the prospect’s best interests in mind.”

Genshaft said she hopes to shift the mindset of many prospective student-athletes away from becoming a professional athlete and toward earning a college degree. She said the presidents on the Board believed that the “thoughtful and experienced administrators” on the Leadership Council, along with other constituencies the Council consults in its study, can provide the best recommendations for a comprehensive recruiting model for Board – and membership – consideration.

Mike Alden, athletics director at Missouri, chairs the Leadership Council and will guide the group through its study and toward recommendations. He sees the same issues as Genshaft: The traditional high school coach no longer plays the vital role in the process, and “outside influencers” are much more prominent.

“The charge from the Board was very clear,” Alden said, “and that is to use our network, our knowledge base and the staff of the NCAA – use the resources throughout the country of people who have a good grasp of this part of our industry – and develop a model that is different than what we use today.”

Alden said the Council will examine the history of men’s basketball recruiting and attempt to learn from what has worked and what hasn’t. Members will involve coaches, coaching organizations, and other entities inside and outside of the NCAA. He said that includes the “third party influencers,” who are vital in informing the way the sport and its recruiting process functions.

“If we try to do this without at least getting some information from these folks, you are ostracizing them and making it more challenging,” Alden said, counting iHoops youth basketball officials and sponsors of various events as those the Council would consult. Alden acknowledged that the task before him and the Council is challenging. He said the group would try to examine the issue with an open mind and that nothing, including the elimination of summer recruiting, is non-negotiable.

“Everything is on the table, whether it’s summer recruiting or its elimination, how you communicate with student-athletes, the entire recruiting calendar. Everything is out there,” he said.

Like Genshaft, Alden said the ultimate purpose of the exercise is to recalibrate the goals of those involved with men’s basketball toward the educational component.

“We’re not here for the grooming of athletes. We’re here for the grooming of students,” Alden said. “Our hope would be at the end of this to come up with a process that aligns more with the values we hold true in higher education.”

The end of the process will come later this year since the Board gave the Council a full year to come up with recommendations. Genshaft said the aggressive timeline, at least by NCAA standards, was necessary

“The issues with men’s basketball recruiting don’t seem to be getting any better,” Genshaft said. “As a matter of fact, the issues seem to be getting worse with each recruiting cycle. There has been talk of addressing this for quite some time, and there is a sense that these problems need immediate focus.”

Alden said the timeframe was “do-able.” Substantive changes would need to be formed as legislation, which could be adopted by the Board as emergency legislation or sent through the regular legislative cycle. In the latter case, the earliest legislation would be adopted would be April 2012.

The Council will begin its work on the issue at its Jan. 13 meeting at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio. A number of stakeholders will attend the meeting, as well, including representatives from the CCA, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the National Federation of State High School Associations, Black Coaches and Administrators, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and iHoops.

Ten years of men’s basketball recruiting reform

A summary of legislative changes in the last decade related to Division I men’s basketball recruiting.

2000 – Proposals were passed that:

  • Allowed coaches to contact prospects enrolled in an institution’s summer term if the prospect signed an NLI and was receiving aid to attend the summer session.
  • Allowed coaches to attend a single NCAA-certified basketball event over Final Four weekend, so long as the event was within 30 miles of the championship.

2001 – Proposals were passed that:

  • Established a dead period the days before the first date of the fall NLI signing period and made the academic evaluation period begin the day after the end of the signing period.
  • Strengthened event certification for men’s basketball events in the summer.
  • Changed the recruiting calendar to allow evaluations in July and contact during the junior year beginning after the Final Four (with restrictions). The legislation also reduced the number of evaluation days during the academic year and restricted April event attendance to the scholastic attendance during the week. The proposal also required all fall evaluations to be at the prospect’s educational institution and permitted phone calls (with limits) after the sophomore year. The measure also permitted official visits during the junior year.
  • Further altered the recruiting calendar to limit contact during the junior year to one phone call.
  • Separated the July evaluation period into two 10-day periods sandwiching a four-day dead period.
  • Prohibited staff and coaches from contacting a prospect’s coach or anyone associated with a prospect during nonscholastic certified summer events.
  • Ended the fall contact period on Oct. 5 (instead of Oct. 14).

2002 – Proposals were passed that:

  • Prohibited certified men’s basketball events from being conducted at sports-wagering venues.
  • Made dead periods inapplicable to prospects enrolled in an institution’s summer term with signed NLIs.
  • Limited nonscholastic evaluations in April to the weekend, excepting national standardized test weekends.
  • Required prospects on nonscholastic teams to be a resident of the state in which the team is located or a geographically adjoining state. Also limited the number of out-of-state prospects on a team to three.
  • Allowed the NCAA basketball certification staff to regulate individuals involved in coaching at certified events.
  • Required institutional camps and clinics to include in-person or video-taped educational sessions about topics such as initial eligibility, gambling, agents and drug use.
  • Permitted participants to receive awards at certified events, so long as the cost is included in the entry fee.

2003 – Proposals were passed that:

  • Allowed coaches to attend NBA pre-draft camps outside contact and evaluation periods.

2004 – Proposals were passed that:

  • Prohibited institutional staff members with basketball duties from coaching nonscholastic teams.
  • Allowed more flexibility in the recruiting calendar and increased phone contact during the senior year in high school. Permitted seven recruiting opportunities (three off-campus contacts), limited academic-year evaluations to scholastic events and permitted once-a-month phone calls from June 15 after the sophomore year through July 31 of the junior year and twice per week beginning August 1 before the senior year.
  • Reinstated the April contact period at nonscholastic events and increased the number of recruiting-person days.

2005 – A proposal was passed that:

  • Prohibited communication with the prospect or anyone associated with a prospect during the April contact period while the prospect is participating in a nonscholastic event.

2006 – No men’s basketball-specific recruiting proposals

2007 – A proposal was passed that:

  • Prohibited attendance at non-institutional, non-organized events during the summer evaluation period.
  • Prohibited coaches from evaluating prospects at nonscholastic events in April.

2008 – A proposal was passed that:

  • Defined, for purposes of the tryout rule and camps and clinics legislation, a prospective men’s basketball student-athlete as a person who has begun the seventh grade.

2009 – Proposals were passed that:

  • Required specific criteria for an institution to subscribe to a recruiting or scouting service.
  • Changed the definition of men’s basketball recruit to include anyone who has been asked by an institution to attend the school’s camp or clinic, has been provided recruiting materials, has had recruiting contact with the coaching staff, has received a verbal offer of aid or has verbally committed to an institution.
  • Allowed recruiting during institutional camps and clinics.
  • Required institutions to declare involved prospects ineligible with violations related to tryouts and camps and clinics and required institutions to notify the prospects of the eligibility situation and the consequences.

Additionally, the Legislative Council is still considering a proposal that would:

  • Prohibit institutions from hosting nonscholastic men’s basketball events.

2010 – Proposals are under consideration that would:

  • Allow coaches to attend nonscholastic events on weekends during the April recruiting period.
  • Require the NCAA national office to publish a quarterly list of allowable recruiting and scouting services.
  • Extend the April contact period.