Monday, August 8, 2011

Proposed changes in recruiting are a hopeful start

The NCAA is finally making some progress when it comes to regulating men's basketball recruiting.

On Friday, the NCAA announced that the Division I Leadership Council "reached consensus on some aspects of a new men's basketball recruiting model", which included the following:

  • A start date for official visits beginning after the men’s basketball championship in April of the junior year.
  • Deregulating the type of communication between coaches and prospects (including text messaging and other forms of electronic communication).
  • Allowing unlimited communication after Aug. 1 before the junior year in high school.
  • Permitting evaluations at certified nonscholastic events on two weekends in April, with some restrictions.
  • Permitting some contact at a prospect’s educational institution in conjunction with an evaluation, with some restrictions and requirements.
Of the five bullet points on which the council was able to reach a consensus, the two most important are the changes proposed for allowing unlimited communication and bringing back two evaluation weekends in April.

Regulations against texting and calling are outdated in the day and age of the smart phone. Emails, twitter direct messages, and facebook messages are all accessible on a typical smartphone. DMing a recruit and sending him a text both end up with the same result -- the recruit checking the message on his phone -- so why is one regulated and one not? Everyone has an unlimited texting plan and every kid is keenly aware of how to and perfectly capable of ignoring a phone call or text from someone he doesn't want to talk to. Parents, how often does your 16 year old happen to "lose service" when he is breaking curfew?

Bringing back a few weekends in April is also important because it will allow coaches to evaluate players over a longer period of time. Allowing college coaches ample opportunity to get a feel for how a player is developing is the best way to ensure correct talent evaluations. Part of the reason that we are seeing so many players transfer these days is that coaches are unable to properly evaluate players. They end up at the wrong level and transfer, either to a place they can play or to a school with better competition.

The one aspect of recruiting that I have the most issue with, however, wasn't addressed -- the July recruiting period:

"While the Council agreed that changes need to be made to the summer recruiting period, the group said it wants feedback from the membership before making a legislative recommendation on the actual number of days in July that should be used."

The way July is currently scheduled is that coaches get two ten-day periods on the road where they are allowed to evaluate players. That's too much, for the coaches and for the players. (If you want to read me waxing poetic on this topic, click here.) That needs to get cut down. If I had my druthers, there would be five four-day evaluations periods -- two in April, three in July -- stretching from Thursday-Sunday where coaches would be able to get on the road and evaluate.

(Ed. Note: Thanks to John Infante of the ByLaw Blog for tipping me off to this. The Council is considering two options for July -- two seven-day periods or three four-day periods. The April evaluation period will be two weekends -- 6:00 pm Friday through 4:00 pm Sunday -- that don't happen to coincide with an SAT test.)

With all that is currently wrong with the NCAA, these changes are relatively minute. AAU coaches are still going to wield too much power, players are still going to end up with the highest-bidder, stars are still not going to be able to earn their market value and the "student" in student-athlete will still be a controversial term.

But its a start. Its a step in the right direction. And its a sign that the NCAA is hearing the calls for reform.

That's a good sign.

No comments: