The NCAA’s governance structure often gets the deserved criticism of taking too long. Multiple committees, subcommittees, working groups, and blue ribbon panels have come and gone without producing much. It’s the byproduct of any legislative process that includes as many different people and institution’s as the NCAA does. It’s also the result of legislating part-time.
So for the Leadership Council’s top-to-bottom review of the men’s basketball recruiting model to wrap up within a year is a small victory for Division I’s governance structure. The results of that review are even more encouraging.
A recruiting model should think about two things: how coaches evaluate and select new student-athletes, and how they convince them to attend a particular school. The Leadership Council split into two subcommittees somewhat along those lines and came up with recommendations for both.
To evaluate prospects, the Leadership Council has recommended the return of evaluations at AAU events in April. Coaches would have two weekends, which would move if they interfere with the SAT or ACT. The July evaluation period would be shortened, either to three four-day weekends or two seven-day periods. But the biggest change is allowing tryouts, or “on-campus evaluations.”
One option is Division II’s tryout rules, which allow each school to tryout each prospect. A better option is the NABC’s proposal from 2004, which give each prospect six on-campus evaluations and each institution 18. Tryouts would be centered around the official visit, with a prospect needing to be on an official visit for a tryout until after a prospect’s senior season.
This ties into changes in how contact recruits. Official visits would be allowed starting April of a prospect’s junior year. Contact would be allowed during September and April of a prospect’s junior year as well. Phone calls and text messages would be unlimited starting August of a prospect’s junior year.
When the entire model is put together, it looks something like this:
- Coaches would use the April and July evaluation periods of a prospect’s sophomore year to pick the members of that class they will target.
- Starting that August, coaches would establish communication with prospects to gauge interest. Interested prospects would meet coaches in person in September.
- Over the junior year, coaches confirm their evaluations, and secure commitments with in-home visits, official visits, and a final evaluation on campus that spring.
The model, with the NABC’s limited tryout rule, would greatly favor coaching staffs who can make good evaluations during the spring and summer before a prospect’s junior year. It also gives prospects additional bargaining power if they hold onto official visits and tryouts into their senior year.
There’s still work to be done. The July evaluation period and tryout model are still not set. And the entire exercise could be derailed by tacking on a summer practice rule to a recruiting proposal, especially as the debate over required summer school continues.
The biggest danger to any model, be it recruiting or summer school or financial aid, is to keep it in one piece when it goes in front of the membership. It’s easy to see coaches argue for April AAU evaluations, unlimited tryouts, no change to July, and no change to the contact rules, while administrators fight for reducing the July evaluation periods, deregulating contact, and passing on April AAU events and tryouts.
There’s a glimmer of hope though. The Leadership Council has gone for consensus in putting together the model. And all 31 Division I conferences are represented in that group. When the final proposal goes to the Board of Directors in October, the whole of Division I will have blessed its contents. Then it is up to the individuals on the Leadership Council to see that their vision stays intact.
The opinions expressed on this blog are the author’s and the author’s alone, and are not endorsed by the NCAA or any NCAA member institution or conference. This blog is not a substitute for a compliance office.