NCAA lifts ban on texts from coaches to recruits; no action on uniform start date

25 of 26 proposals adopted, with early-recruiting date the exception; changes effective Aug. 1

January 19, 2013|By Jon Fogg, The Baltimore Sun

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted Saturday in favor of deregulation that will affect a wide swath of the rulebook for all sports, including getting rid of a ban on text messages from coaches to recruits.

In all, 25 of 26 proposals recomended last month by the NCAA Rules Working Group were approved and will go into effect Aug. 1. The board delayed action on one of the most controversial – a uniform start date for recruiting. The presidents asked the Rules Working Group to expedite its study of the issue and return with a solution as soon as possible.

Limiting the start date for recruiting has been a hot topic in men's lacrosse, which in recent years has seen a steady increase in oral commitments by high school sophomores and, in November, the first commitment by a freshman. It appears the new changes won't do anything to stem the tide of commitments by underclassmen, however.

Other areas deregulated by Saturday's vote include personnel, amateurism, recruiting, eligibility, awards, benefits and expenses.

In addition to eliminating restrictions on text messages to recruits, regulations on printed recruiting materials were also scrapped. Saturday's vote does increase regulations in some areas; for example, schools will be able to pay for medical expenses but in most cases will no longer be able to scout opponents in person.

“These new rules take a significant step toward changing the regulatory culture in Division I,” board chairman Nathan Hatch, president at Wake Forest, said according to an article on NCAA.org. “These changes make sense not only for our administrators and coaches but also for our student-athletes, the students who will eventually play sports on our campuses and the NCAA national office. Most important, we now have guideposts, in the form of the Division I commitments, to shape all our future rules.”

The rules changes are the latest transformation to grow from the August 2011 summit for Division I presidents and chancellors. 

“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,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “This vote by the Board of Directors refocuses our attention on the things that really matter: the core values of intercollegiate athletics.”

According to the original proposal, the official date when coaches may verbally contact recruits would have been moved to July 1 after their sophomore year; off-campus contact would be allowed starting with the first day of a recruit's junior year.

"Various membership constituents raised issues with the uniform date," according to the NCAA article, "with some wishing it were earlier and others hoping for a later date."

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