Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive, one of the biggest power brokers in athletics, strongly suggested that the world of big-time college sports needs a dramatic overhaul, especially when it comes to recruiting and eligibility standards for incoming prospects.
“We have developed an agenda that is intended to start a national discussion,” Slive said an a news conference during the SEC’s annual preseason media days. “An agenda for change if you will.”
Slive’s proposal had four primary areas, including making scholarships for multiple years and more all-encompassing and supporting NCAA efforts to improve rules enforcement. The other two ideas, though, are sure to the most controversial.
There is no guarantee that any of the proposals will make it through legislation and become rules, but Slive’s remarks are certain to stir conversation after an offseason filled with reports of scandals.
For incoming high school and junior college recruits, Slive proposed that the NCAA create standards for continuing progress that must be met each year of high school for students to be eligible to play as freshmen. The goal is to eliminate prospects who cram in an unusually high number of core courses in their final year or two of high school in order to become eligible. Slive also proposed raising the minimum grade-point average to be eligible to play as a freshman from 2.0 to 2.5.
Recruits who meet current initial academic eligibility standards but do not meet these proposed higher standards could be permitted to enroll as partial qualifiers, able to receive scholarships and participate in practice but ineligible for competition until they have completed a successful academic year.
As for recruiting, Slive essentially recommended rewriting the NCAA rulebook to eliminate much of the minutiae and focus on more serious rule-breaking. Slive said that rules regarding text messaging, phone calls and other electronic communications should be relaxed.
“The result of the current legislative approach is to criminalize essentially harmless behavior,” he said.
Also, Slive said, when recruiting off-campus coaches should be permitted to talk with prospects, as opposed to the current model where during the basketball summer evaluation periods, coaches cannot have any contact with players. Finally, Slive stressed the importance of involving high school coaches in the recruiting process.
“We encourage the adoption of rules to ensure the recruitment of prospects is conducted within the secondary educational environment,” he said. “We seek to hold [to] the historic approach of recruiting through the scholastic setting rather than through third parties and so-called handlers.”