By Gary Brown
The Division I Legislative Council during its conference call Thursday narrowly defeated a proposal that would have allowed earlier phone contact with recruits in sports other than football and men’s basketball.
The Council’s action averts an override vote on the matter unless the Division I Board of Directors acts differently at its Aug. 11 meeting.
The Legislative Council in April adopted legislation (Proposal No. 2010-30) that would have allowed schools:
The legislation is what currently is in place for men’s basketball, and proponents of Proposal No. 2010-30 liked the idea of uniform contact rules for other sports. After it was adopted, though, 106 schools submitted override requests by the June 27 deadline, which not only required the Legislative Council to revisit the proposal (it takes 30 override requests to prompt that action), but that total also exceeded the 100 requests necessary to suspend the legislation.
Of the 29 conferences present and voting on Thursday’s call, 14 retained support and 15 voted to defeat the proposal. Because of the Council’s weighted-vote structure for conferences, the actual tally was 24.0 in support and 24.3 to defeat, meaning the legislation previously adopted is now rescinded.
The Board of Directors will review the action Aug. 11 and does have the authority to resurrect the proposal. If the presidents do so, that would require a membership override vote later this year.
The discussion on Thursday’s conference call reflected the ongoing debate of earlier access and the burdens placed on the compliance community to monitor phone calls and electronic communication. Some conference representatives who voted to support the legislation in April said they had several individual league members subsequently request an override.
Coincidentally, the Division I Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet in July proposed legislation to eliminate limits on the number and frequency of telephone calls to prospects (though it would not change the permissible date on which institutions may begin calling prospects or who makes the calls).
The cabinet also proposed allowing all forms of electronic correspondence (such as email and texts) to be sent to recruits starting at the same time that phone contact is allowed in a given sport.
Both of those proposals – neither of which would affect the time at which contact could begin to be made with recruits, but both of which affect the methods of the contact – will be acted upon during the 2011-12 legislative cycle.
One override vote that will occur this year is on legislation that prevents an institution from hosting, sponsoring or conducting any nonscholastic basketball practice or game featuring men’s basketball prospects on its campus or at an off-campus facility it uses regularly. That proposal received 35 override requests, but the Legislative Council on its July 14 call voted 27.6 to 20.7 to maintain support of its earlier action (which was amended and previously supported by the Board, too).
Unless the Board rules otherwise, the proposal will be decided via an override vote later this year. Division I adopted legislation in April to allow override votes to be conducted electronically rather than in person at the NCAA Convention. The Division I Administration Cabinet is currently working to establish the policies and procedures for the new override process and should have those finalized by the end of September.
The proposal was intended to address a proliferation of nonscholastic men’s basketball events held on Division I campuses during quiet periods, especially in May and June.
Those who don’t want those events (that is, supporters of the proposal) say they are being planned and operated to help institutions with recruiting but that college coaches are being leveraged to help event operators arrange for discounted operational costs under the threat that event operators will take the event (and all of the prospects) to another institution’s campus.
Also, the Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet sponsored similar legislation for the 2011-12 cycle relating to women’s basketball at the request of the Women’s Basketball Issues Committee and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. The Legislative Council’s vote on the men’s basketball issue could be instructive in that regard.
Schools that submitted override requests, though, cite the loss of revenue potential as their primary concern.
If the Board agrees with the Legislative Council’s decision, it will prompt an override vote for the sixth time in seven years. The last was at the 2010 Convention when delegates upheld legislation that established sand volleyball as an emerging sport for women and preserved legislation that added a week to the front end of the baseball season.