It was less than a year ago that the NCAA attempted to streamline its rule book and allow recruiters to have more freedom. Unfortunately, no one at the NCAA had really run the changes by athletic directors. So when the recruiting system was somewhat deregulated, coaches and ADs yelped that the new landscape would be too lawless and too expensive. So those rules were walked back.
Now the NCAA has made some new changes to its rule book with more input from the troops on the ground, if you will. The new rules will…
* Allow football players to participate in eight hours per week of required weight training and conditioning during an eight-week period each summer. Up to two of those eight hours can be dedicated to film review.
* Prohibit school staff members from attending all-star games or any activities associated with those games.
* Establish an extended dead period when no face-to-face recruiting can take place. The new, lengthier dead period will extend from mid-December through mid-January. This winter the dates will be December 16th through January 15th.
* Establish a 14-day dead period in late June and early July for FBS-level schools.
* Allow schools to pay for meals for up to four family members who accompany a recruit on an official visit.
All these changes are likely to be supported by the majority of college coaches. For example, the first rule — eight hours of summer work each week — simply gets football in line with college basketball, a sport that’s already adopted workload guidelines for its offseason. Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze believes this will allow coaches to hold players “more accountable on the things like academics, social issues and things that may arise” during summer months.
The rules lengthening the December dead period and establishing one for June/July will provide coaches (and recruits) the opportunity to spend more uninterrupted time with their families during the holidays and summer. That’s good for everyone. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen has been one of the biggest proponents of such a summer break, though he favored schools setting their own dates. Locking in the same two-week period for everyone makes more sense, however.
The meals-for-family rule could be an interesting one to watch. This might be a small first step toward allowing big schools to do one thing (like provide steak and lobster to a recruit’s family, for example) while the smaller-budgeted schools do another (“This is from Chef Boyardee!”). The NCAA’s release on the subject does not mention any type of financial cap on what the schools serve.
Overall, this is a much more measured approach to rule changes than the laissez-faire plan NCAA leaders tried to adopt earlier.