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.
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:
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.
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:
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.”
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 22.214.171.124; or (c) an ancillary event that is part of a nonathletics program (for example, Boy Scouts) and is conducted in accordance with Bylaw 126.96.36.199.
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.”
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.