The NCAA’s Division I Council approved sweeping changes to the college football rule book on Friday in an attempt to make the recruiting process less taxing and more efficient for high school prospects while also expanding the size of coaching staffs by one assistant.
“This is a significant move forward for football recruiting. The entire package of rule changes is friendly for students, their families and their coaches,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, chairman of the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, said in a statement announcing the affirmative vote. “We will continue to monitor the recruiting environment to make sure the rules work as intended, and we will suggest adjustments when necessary.”
The Council comprises the 10 FBS conferences, with the Power 5 leagues (the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and Big 12) getting two votes apiece and the Group of 5 (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) getting one each. The changes passed by a 14-to-1 margin.
Among the most significant changes:
— Addition of a 10th assistant coach: FBS programs will be able add one paid assistant coach after the end of next season, bringing the number allowed to 10. Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett thinks this added assistant will be used primarily for recruiting purposes, especially during the season when coaching staffs also must concentrate on game-planning. It also will give programs a better coach-to-player ratio.
“In football, we have 120 guys and we have nine coaches, so your ratio in football is probably the worst of any sport that there is when you look at the major sports and really break it down,” Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher said earlier this month. “The game has become so complicated and intricate in ways and we definitely need one.”
— An early-signing period: The Council voted to change the recruiting calendar to allow for an early-signing period in December. However, this change will not actually go into effect unless the Collegiate Commissioners Association — which controls the letter-of-intent process — votes to approve it during its meetings in June. Should it do so, February’s National Signing Day as we know it will cease to be the carnival that it has become, as many of the nation’s top recruits likely would decide to end the process in December. Bowlsby said Friday he expects the conference commissioners to approve the early-signing period in June.
— No more IAWPs: That would be Individuals Associated With Prospects. Effective immediately (though schools may honor contracts signed before Jan. 18), programs no longer may hire anyone who is close to a recruit (high school coaches, for instance) for a two-year period before and after the recruit’s anticipated enrollment date. This applies only to administrative roles that do not count against a program’s assistant-coach limit; if a school wants to make such a hire, it must be for a salaried, full-time assistant coaching job. A similar rule has been in place in college basketball since 2010.
— Satellite camp limits: After coaches such as Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh exploited a loophole that allowed for nearly unfettered summer satellite camps in nearly any location imaginable, the rules have changed. Coaches may now hold such camps for recruits only on 10 select days in June and July, and the camps must be on the school’s campus or at facilities regularly used by the school.
— Earlier official visits: Prospects are now allowed to take school-sponsored official visits starting April 1 of his junior year through the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June. Previously, official visits were prohibited before Sept. 1 of a recruit’s senior year in high school.
— Class-size limits: Programs now are limited to 25 scholarships for each recruiting class. This was intended to curb the practice of programs over-signing prospects, with some waiting extra semesters to become fully funded members of the team.