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Division I to consider recruiting, meals changes

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

Over the next several months, the Division I membership will consider changing some recruiting rules and allowing schools to provide more meals and unlimited snacks to student-athletes.

The Division I Legislative Council agreed this week to sponsor several proposed rules changes in the 2013-14 legislative cycle. Among those changes are a group of measures intended to address the membership’s uneasiness about some recruiting rules changes originally adopted by the Division I Board of Directors and later suspended or overridden.

At the recommendation of the Rules Working Group, the Council sponsored rules that would:

  • Allow recruiting communication to start Sept. 1 of a recruit’s junior year, except in basketball, football, men’s ice hockey, swimming and diving, cross country and track and field. Basketball already adopted its own recruiting contact rules, and changes in football will be considered over the next week by the Leadership Council and Board of Directors. Swimming and diving, cross country and track and field coaches did not support the earlier date, so the rule would remain unchanged in those sports. Recruiting communication now can begin July 1 following the junior year. Off-campus recruiting dates would not change for any sport. The proposal would also lift restrictions in these sports on the frequency and types of communication. For example, text messaging would be allowed.

  • Limit recruiting materials to general and electronic correspondence, such as brochures or emails with attachments, but lift many of the restrictions on those, such as the color of ink that can be used. Personalized recruiting materials and those created specifically for recruiting purposes would remain prohibited.

  • Allow men’s ice hockey coaches to begin recruiting communication on Jan. 1 of a recruit’s sophomore year and have off-campus contact on June 15 following the completion of a recruit’s sophomore year. In addition, the council also sponsored a second version of this hockey recruitment rule for the Division I membership to consider. Besides changing the recruitment dates, this alternate proposal would maintain the ban on text messaging and other electronic correspondence. The council sponsored both versions in order to get feedback from the membership on whether they support the current restrictions on electronic communication.

The Council also sponsored several proposals that would change some rules related to financial aid, personnel and benefits student-athletes can receive. These proposals would:

  • Create a more workable definition of countable coach (as a precursor to further discussions related to noncoaching personnel)

  • Allow schools to provide the maximum meal plan for student-athletes that is available to all students, even if the plan exceeds three meals per day

  • Permit athletics directors to delegate the responsibility for signing squad lists

  • Eliminate certification requirements related to institutional financial aid

Additionally, the Council sponsored two separate proposals that would allow schools to give unlimited snacks and additional meals to student-athletes, outside of what they receive through their traditional scholarship. The first proposal would allow schools to provide meals in conjunction with practice during the playing season and other noncompetitive events. The second proposal would allow schools to provide meals “incidental with participation” both in and out of season.

The proposals will be published in an official notice by Nov. 15 and will be made available to the membership for review. The Legislative Council will cast their first votes on the proposals at the 2014 NCAA Convention in January.

In other business:

  • The council discussed extensively proposals that are part of a sport safety package, including one that would require coaches to be certified in CPR and another that would require all strength and conditioning coaches to have a professional certification. Members of the council supported many pieces within the package but think more discussion is needed.

  • The council supported proposals naming triathlon to the list of emerging sports for women and providing different variations of rugby for schools interested in sponsoring the sport.

  • The council adopted noncontroversial legislation to provide greater flexibility in conducting sand volleyball competitions.

  • The council discussed the ongoing governance review and began to consider how rules should be made and changed in the future. Members generally agreed that a legislative body will be an important part of any future governance structure, and the processes developed should align with stated values and commitments.