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DI Council discusses return to recruiting

Members intend to vote on issue in April

The Division I Council launched a discussion of a return to some recruiting activities, and the group intends to vote on a return to recruiting during its April meeting. Division I has been in a recruiting dead period since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

In February, the Council extended the dead period through May 31 but committed to providing clarity regarding the transition to recruiting activities during its April meeting.

Members generally supported transitioning back to some in-person recruiting in all sports on June 1, acknowledging that schools in different parts of the country may be subject to different health and safety restrictions.

Council members discussed several possible models, including one that would return all sports to their regular recruiting calendars on June 1 and a more uniform model for all sports that would allow the return of certain recruiting activities like official and unofficial visits beginning June 1, with a return to the regular calendar for all sports on Aug. 1.

“The return-to-recruiting discussion is an extremely complex one. We had a lengthy discussion today, weighing the feedback from standing committees, as well as the wealth of feedback we’ve received from all stakeholders,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We will continue to assess the impact on each sport as we work toward final decisions in April.”

Transfers

The Working Group on Transfers provided an update to the Council, and members reviewed data from the first several years of the Transfer Portal. The Council affirmed its preference to vote as soon as April on a legislative proposal that would provide student-athletes the opportunity to compete immediately after transfer, no matter what sport they play.

COVID-19-related action

For the second consecutive summer, basketball and football student-athletes will not be required to enroll in summer school to practice with their teams over the summer. The Council granted a waiver of the rule that requires students at schools that have summer school to enroll in classes over the summer in order to participate with their team during that period. The waiver is for 2021 only.

As they did for football teams last month, the Council provided a blanket waiver that increased the number of hours all teams can spend on countable, athletically related, out-of-season activities this spring from eight to 10 hours per week. The 10 hours may include:

  • Up to two hours per week for meetings/film review.
  • No more than eight hours of physical activities, including up to four hours of skill instruction.

All activities will be noncontact. The waiver does not change the existing requirement that student-athletes have two days off per week. It is effective from March 22 until the week before a school’s final exam period for spring 2021.

Members also adopted a limited moratorium on conference-sponsored, Council-governance proposals during the 2021-22 legislative cycle. Division I has operated under a limited moratorium on new proposals since last spring, when the 2019-20 proposals were tabled. Only proposals related to significant membership priorities or that advance the NCAA Division I Board of Directors’ strategic areas of emphasis will be permitted from conferences.

Name, image and likeness

The Council discussed a potential outline for a regulatory framework for proposed changes to name, image and likeness rules. Members provided ideas and feedback on the delineation of responsibilities among schools, the national office and a potential third-party administrator, which would conduct an independent review of NIL activities for compliance with NCAA rules.

Council members also had the opportunity to review what types of actions could be considered violations of the proposed NIL rules, which are designed to be consistent with principles previously outlined by the Board of Governors.  The rules would prohibit pay for play, including compensation provided or offered contingent upon initial or continued enrollment at a school or contingent upon specific athletic performance or achievement.

Members acknowledged that the proposed rules are good-faith first efforts to allow for NIL within the collegiate athletics environment. If the proposals are passed, the Council will continue to monitor and adjust as needed. Feedback will be sought from additional groups as the framework is developed.