NCAA approves 10th assistant, additional recruiting reforms

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The assistant coaching carousel is getting set to get a lot busier and a whole lot more hectic.

As expected, the NCAA on Friday approved a slew of reforms in what The Association described as a “new football recruiting model.”  The one that’s garnering the most attention will have a significant impact on the recruiting trail as FBS programs will be permitted to add a 10th full-time, on-field assistant coach to their staffs.  It as expected that head coaches would be permitted to add that 10th assistant in August; however, the effective date for the additional help will be Jan. 9, 2018.

That date is one day after the College Football Playoff championship game for the 2017 season.

  • It changes the recruiting calendar to allow for an early signing period in December (effective Aug. 1). Only the Collegiate Commissioners Association can create new National Letter of Intent signing periods.
  • It adds a period for official visits that begins April 1 of the junior year and ends the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June of that year. Official visits can’t occur in conjunction with a prospect’s participation in a school’s camp or clinic (effective Aug. 1).
  • It prevents Football Bowl Subdivision schools from hiring people close to a prospective student-athlete for a two-year period before and after the student’s anticipated and actual enrollment at the school. This provision was adopted in men’s basketball in 2010 (effective immediately, though schools may honor contracts signed before Jan. 18, 2017).
    Football Bowl Subdivision schools are limited to signing 25 prospective and current student-athletes to a first-time financial aid agreement or a National Letter of Intent. Exceptions exclude current student-athletes who have been enrolled full-time at the school for at least two years and prospective or current student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury (effective for recruits who sign after Aug. 1, 2017).
  • It limits the time for Football Bowl Subdivision coaches to participate in camps and clinics to 10 days in June and July and requires that the camps take place on a school’s campus or in facilities regularly used by the school for practice or competition. Staff members with football-specific responsibilities are subject to the same restrictions. The Football Championship Subdivision can conduct and participate in camps during the months of June and July (effective immediately, though schools may honor contracts signed before Jan. 18, 2017).
  • It allows coaches employed at a camp or clinic to have recruiting conversations with prospects participating in camps and clinics and requires educational sessions at all camps and clinics detailing initial eligibility standards, gambling rules, agent rules and drug regulations (effective immediately).

“This is a significant move forward for football recruiting,” Big 12 commissioner and Football Oversight Committee chairman Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “The entire package of rule changes is friendly for students, their families and their coaches. We will continue to monitor the recruiting environment to make sure the rules work as intended, and we will suggest adjustments when necessary.”

The NCAA also made sure to note that “[d]ecisions are not final until the close of the Division I Board of Directors meeting April 26.” Additionally, the early signing period in December will not be official until the Conference Commissioners Association signs off on it at a June meeting.

It’s expected the CCA will overwhelmingly approve the measure.

On the non-recruiting front, the NCAA Division I Council also voted to eliminate “multiple contact practices a day” — aka two-a-days — in summer camp.  “A single day may include a single, three-hour, on-field practice session and a walk-through,” a separate release stated.

“The Council’s action reinforces our commitment to the health and safety of our student-athletes,” said Council chair Jim Phillips, athletic director at Northwestern. “We continue to be guided by the recommendations from medical professionals, coaches and administrators and the strong support for discontinuing two contact practices in the same day.”