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Publish date: Jul 5, 2011

Legislative Council asked to redial on phone call proposal

Not hosting nonscholastic activities in men’s basketball also challenged during override period

By Gary Brown

Legislation adopted in April regarding earlier phone contact with recruits in sports other than football and men’s basketball has been suspended because more than 100 institutions submitted override requests.

FCS schools ask to override pregame lodging proposal

Eighteen Football Championship Subdivision schools have submitted requests to override Proposal No. 2010-83, which would not allow institutions to provide lodging (for example, a hotel or motel) to student-athletes before a regular-season home football game. Read More

The Division I Legislative Council will hold a conference call July 14 to reconsider that proposal and one other that received the requisite number of override requests from member schools by the June 27 deadline to necessitate additional review. A third proposal applicable only to the Football Championship Subdivision will be reviewed by the FCS Governance Committee, also during a July 14 conference call.

The phone contact legislation (Proposal No. 2010-30) received 106 override requests. It takes 30 to require the Legislative Council to revisit the legislation and 100 for the legislation to be suspended until one of the following occurs:

  • The Legislative Council reconsiders the legislation, reverses its earlier action and defeats the proposal, thus averting an override vote;
  • The Council reconsiders the legislation and amends the proposal such that it must undergo another override period; or
  • The Council reconsiders the legislation and maintains its position. If the Board of Directors follows suit, an override vote would have to occur. In this case, the legislation would remain suspended until the override vote is conducted.

Proposal No. 2010-30 is the second proposal since the NCAA federated its governance structure in 1997 to eclipse the 100-submission benchmark and thus be suspended. A proposal in 2005 to expand financial aid limits in women’s gymnastics, soccer, volleyball and track garnered 116 override requests. All but soccer were overriden at the 2006 NCAA Convention.

The other override request the Legislative Council will consider regards legislation that prevents an institution from hosting, sponsoring or conducting any nonscholastic basketball practice or game featuring men’s basketball prospects on its campus or at an off-campus facility it uses regularly. That legislation (Proposal No. 2009-100-A) received 35 override requests.

Because of the Legislative Council’s adoption of Proposal No. 2010-12 in April, override voting this year does not have to be conducted in person at the Convention. Instead, Division I members can cast override votes electronically at a selected time (which could in fact be at the Convention if desired). Details of that process are still being considered.

Phone contact

Proposal No. 2010-30, now suspended, would have allowed schools earlier contact with prospects in sports other than football and men’s basketball as follows:

  • One telephone call per month to a prospect (or the prospect’s relatives or legal guardians) on or after June 15 at the end of the prospect’s sophomore year in high school through July 31 after the prospect’s junior year;
  • Two telephone calls per week beginning August 1 before the prospect’s senior year in high school; and
  • One telephone call per week to a two-year or four-year college prospect (or the prospect’s relatives or legal guardians).

The legislation excludes football because it is specific to the spring evaluation period, and it’s already in place for men’s basketball. Supporters in fact see a benefit in having uniform contact rules for all sports. They also say the earlier communication allows coaches to better assess a prospect’s academic standing and counsel the prospect on his or her remaining academic curriculum.

The original proposal came from the Division I Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet and had support from the Women’s Basketball Issues Committee. Only three comments were submitted during the membership comment period, and the proposal passed by a four-fifths majority at the Legislative Council meeting in April.

Since then, though, schools are raising concerns about extending the recruiting process earlier into the prospect’s high school career.

One school commented, “Telephone contact with prospects during their senior year is sufficient time to enhance relationships with prospects. Our coaches feel adding telephone contact one year earlier is both intrusive and unnecessary.”

Another cited particular reluctance among women’s basketball coaches, “…given several obstacles, including an early role in the recruiting process, conflict with in-season play, and pressure on both the student-athlete and the coach to make an earlier than desired commitment. (Our) women’s basketball coaches are unanimously opposed to this legislation, and there appears to be similar support for reconsideration and opposition by a significant number of WBCA members.”

Hosting nonscholastic events that include prospects

The issue regarding the other override proposal (No. 2009-100-A) appears to involve the legislation’s potential financial impact.

The Board-sponsored proposal was intended to address a proliferation of nonscholastic men’s basketball events held on Division I campuses during quiet periods, especially in May and June.

Supporters say these events are being planned and operated to help institutions with recruiting, but that college coaches are being leveraged to help the event operator arrange for discounted operational costs under the threat that the event operator will take the event (and all of the prospects) to another institution’s campus.

Schools that submitted override requests, though, lament the loss of revenue potential. One cited “unintended consequences” that “will severely hamper other areas of our campus that depend on these events.”

The proposal has a long history. The original version was submitted in October 2009 but went through several revisions involving the months during and locations at which these events could not be conducted.

Ultimately, the Board in April amended the proposal to allow schools to conduct (a) an open event in which the participants reside within a 50-mile radius of the institution’s campus; (b) an event that is part of a program that is consistent with the mission of the institution (for example, state wellness and educational programs) and is conducted in accordance with Bylaw; or (c) an ancillary event that is part of a nonathletics program (for example, Boy Scouts) and is conducted in accordance with Bylaw

Even that, though, hasn’t satisfied everyone. One override submission said, “At (some universities) where most of the facilities are owned and run by campus recreation, this becomes an incredible hardship. Recreation arranges and enters into contracts with organizations without any input from athletics. Limiting who they may rent to severely inhibits their ability to generate revenue. There is no allowance made for institutions set up in such a way that athletic departments do not own or control the facilities. There should be an allowance that allows other campus departments to rent their facilities to outside organizations with no input or say from athletics.”

Previous override votes

  • 2006 Convention: The first override since restructuring in 1997 involved expanding financial aid limits in women’s gymnastics, soccer, volleyball and track. All but soccer were overturned.
  • 2007 Convention: Two overrides, one seeking to overturn legislation allowing graduate students to compete immediately upon transfer and another looking to add a 12th regular-season game for the Football Championship Subdivision. The graduate-student proposal was successful; the 12th game failed.
  • 2008 Convention: Three more overrides, including one to allow text-messaging of prospects, which failed overwhelmingly. Another sought to delete scholarship minimums for baseball (which also failed), and the third successfully repealed an adjustment in the golf playing and practice season.
  • 2009 Convention: One override, seeking to restore men’s basketball coaches’ ability to observe nonscholastic events in April, failed.
  • 2010 Convention: Two override attempts were defeated. Delegates staved off an effort to block sand volleyball as an emerging sport for women and also preserved legislation that added a week to the front end of the baseball season.

Other override activity

Other proposals adopted in April received override requests, too, but not enough to require further action. Most notable was the activity regarding Proposal No. 2010-59-C, which in football specifies that a student-athlete who does not successfully complete nine semester hours or eight quarter hours of academic credit during the fall term and earn the Academic Progress Rate eligibility point shall not be eligible to compete in the first four contests in the following season.

That proposal came from the Board-appointed Football Academic Working Group and was designed specifically to improve student-athlete academic performance in football. Twenty-two Football Bowl Subdivision schools submitted override requests (eight short of the 30 required for the Legislative Council to revisit the legislation), and 14 Football Championship Subdivision schools submitted override requests (one shy of the number required in that subdivision).

If an override vote occurs this year, it will be the sixth time in seven years that Division I will have gone through that process. The last was at the 2010 Convention when delegates upheld legislation that allowed sand volleyball as an emerging sport for women and preserved legislation that added a week to the front end of the baseball season.