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Rules Working Group recruiting proposals move forward

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

Coaches could send unlimited text messages and other forms of electronic communications if a recruiting rule proposed by the Rules Working Group is approved in January by the members who serve on the Division I Legislative Council.

The membership will consider three new recruiting proposals the Rules Working Group constructed during its September meeting from similar measures that were adopted and later suspended by the Board of Directors earlier this year.

The proposals would:

  • The proposal would also allow men’s ice hockey coaches to begin off-campus recruiting and have off-campus contact on June 15 following the completion of a recruit’s sophomore year.
  • Limit recruiting materials to general and electronic correspondence (such as brochures or e-mails with attachments), but lift many of the restrictions on printed and electronic general correspondence (such as ink color). Personalized recruiting materials and those created specifically for recruiting purposes are still prohibited.
  • 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. The recruiting communication date would not change for basketball, football and men’s ice hockey because they already have set or are considering earlier start dates in separate legislation or proposed legislation.  Swimming and diving, cross country and track and field coaches did not support the earlier date. Currently, recruiting communication begins 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 modes of communication (e.g. text messaging).

Feedback from men’s ice hockey coaches indicated strong support for both a consistent recruiting start date and deregulation of the restrictions on modes and frequency of communication. Traditionally, men’s ice hockey coaches have favored an earlier recruiting start date because they compete for student-athletes against various junior leagues, and athletes who participate in such leagues (such as the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior League) can jeopardize their eligibility.

The recruiting materials proposal is a third way to handle the issue of materials sent to recruits, after two previous proposals were not supported by the membership earlier this year. The working group members believe that providing significant flexibility within the definitions of general and electronic correspondence is a more straightforward approach than either prohibiting recruiting materials altogether or completely eliminating all restrictions.

For printed materials, only size restrictions would remain: printed materials shall not exceed 8 ½ by 11 inches when opened in full and envelopes shall not exceed 9 by 12 inches.

The working group is acknowledging their peers' resistance to earlier in-person recruiting by determining an initial start date for recruiting communication, lifting restrictions on the modes and frequency of recruiting communication and leaving the date for off-campus recruiting unchanged.

The working group members believe the membership is ready to lift restrictions on frequency and modes of communication, but it is not ready to move the date for off-campus recruiting.  While membership feedback showed overall support for a single start date for both communication and off-campus recruiting, once more specific questions were asked, the feedback showed less support for earlier off-campus recruiting and no consensus on specific dates.

The proposals will go to the Legislative Council for an initial review and sponsorship later this month. The sponsored proposals will then be published and available for membership review in November, with the Legislative Council's first vote on the proposals occurring at the January 2014 NCAA Convention in San Diego.

Per the Division I legislative process, proposals won’t be considered adopted until the Board of Directors has met and had the opportunity to discuss them.