Recruiting Restrictions to be lifted

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Last updated: 02/12/2013 5:00 AM

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Football Recruiting
Meyer, Big Ten Oppose Loosening Recruiting Restrictions
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer has been called one of the best recruiters in college football. He’s relentless. He’s vigilant. He’s the kind of coach who will exhaust every avenue and use every resource at his disposal in order to get a kid to play for Ohio State.

“What do I really do for a living,” Meyer asked rhetorically while giving the keynote address at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce annual meeting earlier this month.

“I convince 17 and 18 year olds to go to school here.”

Meyer was able to convince 24 of the top high school players in America to sign with the Buckeyes last week, giving him his third No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the last seven years.

He and his staff took one night to celebrate before getting to work on the 2014 class, which won’t be completed until this time next year. By then, the college football landscape, and recruiting in particular, could look vastly different.

In an effort to simplify its 500-page rulebook, the NCAA has decided to start by chopping out the section with rules governing how colleges around the country go about recruiting the top high school football players.

That doesn’t mean it is free rein for college boosters, or athletic departments, to start paying recruits – at least not any more than they do now. It will, however, put an end to a lot of the rules that restrict when and how frequently colleges can contact potential recruits.

“Bad stuff,” Meyer said last Wednesday during his National Signing Day press conference.

“That’s stuff that we're going to have to address. The Big Ten is going to meet, and I'm putting together a personal letter to all the coaches in America (saying) that I disagree with most of it.”

Under the new rules, which were passed by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors during last month’s meeting, coaches would now be able to call up kids as frequently as they would like.

All the time.

That means no more dead or quiet periods in recruiting where coaches can focus on their current players, not to mention their families that are often neglected while their husbands and fathers scour the country for talent.

Under the new legislation, schools will also be allowed to have as many coaches as they want out recruiting at the same time. There will be no restrictions on texting or emailing, let along regular mail.

“I would imagine not many people who have recruited wrote those,” Meyer said.

“That's my question. Who comes up with that? Have they actually got in a car and went and recruited sophomores in high school? Think about this for a second, unlimited mailings and you can mail them whenever you want.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert claims the driving force behind the ruling was to ‘streamline’ the rulebook in order to make it more meaningful and enforceable.

“These new rules represent noteworthy progress toward what can only be described as more common sense rules that allow schools more discretion in decision-making,” Emmert said.

“This vote by the Board of Directors refocuses our attention on the things that really matter, the core values of intercollegiate athletics.”

The simplification of the rules book, officially known as the Division I Manual, came out of a summit for Division I presidents and chancellors back in August 2011, but it has been under heavy fire since it was voted into effect.

“Just take a deep breath, and whoever said that put that in motion,” Meyer said.

“Could you imagine what's going to be rolling into kids' driveways and fatheads and magnets? It's nonsense.”

Meyer said he planned to speak with OSU Director of Athletics Gene Smith, as well as the other athletic directors and coaches from the Big Ten when they met in Illinois this week. 

The Big Ten Football Coaches and Athletic Directors met today in Park Ridge for a regularly scheduled meeting and subsequently issued the following statement with regard to pending NCAA DI legislation impacting college football:

We reviewed the 26 Rules Working Group proposals acted upon by the NCAA Board of Directors in January, some of which will become effective as early as July 1, 2013.  While we applaud the work that has been done to date, we are very concerned that the timeline proposed for implementation of the proposals does not allow sufficient time for the Football Recruiting Subcommittee of the NCAA Leadership Council to thoughtfully consider the impact of the proposals.

We are specifically concerned with the following three proposals and ask that they be tabled along with Proposal 13-2:

Proposal 11-2: Athletics Personnel: Limitations on the Number and Duties of Coaches – Elimination of Recruiting Coordination Functions
Proposal 13-3: Recruiting: Deregulation of Modes and Numerical Limitations on Communication
Proposal 13-5-A:  Recruiting: Elimination of Printed Recruiting Materials and
Video/Audio Legislation

We have serious concerns whether these proposals, as currently written, are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches.  We are also concerned about the adverse effect they would have on college coaches, administrators and university resources.

We look forward to working with the NCAA toward improving the game, the recruiting process and the overall college football experience for all student-athletes.

Clearly Meyer showed he has some pull within the Big Ten Conference, but he certainly can’t be the only one who finds the new legislation to be a slippery slope for college football.

“I keep hearing deregulation. I'm not a big fan of deregulation,” he added.

“I'm a big fan of firm, harsh penalties for people who break rules, not saying, ‘just go – we can't follow all this stuff so have at it.’ I don't agree with that at all.”

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