NCAA’s newest rule changes just a small step

By Adam Silverstein
October 28, 2011

The NCAA on Thursday announced that its Board of Directors has approved a variety of sweeping rule changes that improve academic standards, provide further support to student-athletes and revamp the basketball recruiting process.

“These changes demonstrate a remarkable resolve by presidents,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a press release. “They represent a return to and a focus on values that are at the core of what intercollegiate athletics are all about. They also represent a clear signal to the world about what we care about and what we stand for.”

ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

The NCAA has mandated that the minimum Academic Progress Rate (APR) to participate in postseason activities for any given team will be raised to 930 from its previous level of 900. The implementation will take a few years, but the NCAA set up a three-level penalty structure including loss of practice time and postseason suspension, coaching suspension and financial aid reductions

Furthering this goal, the Board of Directors also decided that junior college transfers that hope to join a four-year institution must have a 2.5 grade-point average instead of the 2.0 previously required and must meet a number of other qualifications as well. They also created an academic redshirt for first-year students to receive aid and practice but not compete if they are not immediately eligible.

SUPPORTING STUDENT-ATHLETES
[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]Another piece of legislation was passed that effectively gives student-athletes on full scholarships with or without additional financial aid the ability to receive up to $2,000 in additional monies in order to cover the full cost of attendance for their university. It is one small step the NCAA is taking to try and ensure that student-athletes are able to receive enough financial aid.

“It’s not going to deter rule-breakers but should help out kids who don’t have enough to pay a bill or two,’ CBSSports.com‘s Bryan Fischer told OGGOA on Thursday. “If players or agents or coaches want to break the rules, they’re still going to. This isn’t a deterrent so much as it is increasing the amount of aid to players.”

Another perhaps greater changed made by the NCAA was approving “multi-year grants up to the full term of eligibility” for student-athletes “though one-year grants will remain the minimum.” In other words, colleges can promise players four-year scholarships that cannot be reduced or cancelled for on-field reasons – only academic ones.

In addition to ensuring student-athletes receive an education and fulfill the “student” part of the name, the change may provide an advantage to smaller schools that could potential promise full grants while larger institutions may not be willing to offer as much.

“If a kid wants to play in the SEC or go to the NFL, he’s still going to go to places like Florida if they’re that caliber of athlete,” Fischer said. “I don’t think it will have as big an impact as people are making it out to be in sports like football because the vast majority of scholarships are renewed currently.

“It could give a small advantage to schools like Stanford or Vanderbilt who can tell parents they’re guaranteed a great degree. It might hurt depth at some schools. Multi-year scholarships could be huge in equivalency sports like baseball though.”

BASKETBALL RECRUITING

No longer will basketball coaches be restricted in the number of times they can call, text message or contact a potential recruit via social media. The NCAA is allowing unlimited contact between the two parties as long as that contact remains private; public messaging would violate the organization’s rule that schools cannot publicize their recruiting efforts.

This change has been adopted for a number of reasons but mostly because coaches and schools were often receiving secondary violations for what wound up being minor instances or perhaps even accidental contact.

“The most important change is that communication is much more deregulated,” Fischer said. “Coaches don’t have to worry about accidental texting or calling a recruit, and in many ways we’ll see who really wants to work on the recruiting trail.”

The NCAA also implemented new contact rules and earlier visits that, as Fischer explained, “move the rules more in line with what is actually happening.

Coaches are now allowed to contact student-athletes earlier in the recruiting cycle, and recruits can take official visits beginning Jan. 1 of their junior year of high school. Representatives of a university can also visit a recruit’s school during their junior year for evaluation purposes with some restrictions.

CONCLUSION AND OTHER RULE CHANGES

With these changes, the NCAA is proving that they have recognized the need to reform some facets of collegiate athletics and understand that changes have to be made going forward in order for the system to continue long-term.

Fischer thinks the commitment to reform is one that has a chance of lasting as long as the organization continues to take steps in the right direction.

“The takeaway from these reforms is that the Presidents and the NCAA are serious about making changes,” he said. “They know all about the negative press and the issues facing the organization and are committed to fixing things. It might not be the right avenue in some cases but at least they’ve gotten the message that it’s time to change.”

Additions to the changes written about above:

– Universities can provide financial aid to former student-athletes who want to return to college to complete their degrees even if their eligibility has been exhausted athletically.

– The July recruiting period in basketball will be three four-day periods that span from Wednesday evening to Sunday evening.

– The April recruiting period in basketball will be limited to “certified events that begin after 6 p.m. on Friday and before 4 p.m. on Sunday.” No contact may occur during the Final Four, standardized tests or over Easter weekend.

– Coaches can begin contacting junior-year student athletes beginning on June 15, 2012, while the rest of the provisions go into effect on Aug. 1, 2012.[/EXPAND]

One Comment

  1. GatorCooken says:

    Adam, how would you feel about an early signing day for football and basketball? I’ve always thought it would be a huge help for coaches and athletes that are committed and just want the process to end.

    Also, not so sure how I feel about the unlimited contact for basketball coaches….seems like that could get out of hand quickly.

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