As part of an effort to pare down a Division I rule manual that spans more than 400 pages, the NCAA is considering legislation that could significantly alter the way programs recruit, possibly leading some teams — especially in football and basketball — to begin utilizing the collegiate equivalent of a general manager.
Currently, only head coaches or assistant coaches can participate in the selection and evaluation of recruits. The NCAA Rules Working Group has proposed that this rule be eliminated, allowing staff members now known as directors of operations or directors of player personnel to watch film of a prospect or to contact a prospect’s coach or guardian.
Off-campus recruiting — such as in-person evaluations and visits to a prospect’s home — would still be limited to head coaches and assistants. The amendment, if passed, would go into effect Aug. 1, 2013.
Some coaches interviewed for this story said that, should the current rule be eliminated, teams could form a staff position designed solely for the purpose of overseeing day-to-day recruiting operations, just as general managers in professional sports handle the evaluation and acquisition of talent.
Virginia Tech football Coach Frank Beamer, for one, said he thinks the rule change would allow the NCAA to spend more time worrying about serious infractions. It would also allow his assistants to spend more time on game preparation and player management.
“Rather than trying to say, ‘Who made the call? Was it this guy, or was it that guy?’ I think we’re getting into the more serious stuff that really does make a difference,” Beamer said. “Keeping that under control really makes it a level playing field.”
According to information provided by an NCAA spokesman, “eliminating such regulations would reduce compliance monitoring; countless hours are spent defining ‘recruiting coordination’ and ‘clerical tasks.’ ” But Tim Parker, Virginia Tech’s associate athletic director for compliance, said the proposed amendment would not substantively eliminate the amount of monitoring his staff performs.
“We’ll still continue to do phone logs, and in fact we’ll have to do more phone logs because there will be additional people that will be making calls,” Parker said. “So kind of in a weird way there’s going to be a little bit more to review.”
But concerns exist regarding the number of non-coaching administrators allowed per staff, as well as the types of people who would be hired to fill those roles.
“The NCAA really wants to avoid non-coaches from being the beginning and end-all of recruiting,” said Mike Farrell, the lead football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “They don’t want AAU basketball. And the AAU model has been those AAU coaches are the guys that really determine where kids go to college. They handle most of the recruiting, and some of them are good; some of them are unscrupulous.
“If you allow schools to have non-positional coaches recruiting kids, then who’s to say that colleges aren’t going to start hiring a local seven-on-seven coach who’s tied into the area and has relationships with all the kids, and he can start working the phones?”
Under the amended rules, programs with more resources — and thus the ability to hire more people to call recruits — would possess a competitive advantage over those with less financial capability. For instance, Auburn lists 21 non-coaching support staff members on its football team’s online roster. Maryland lists 13.
The NCAA is considering three options to restrict either the number of allowable non-coaching staff members or the permissible activities they can perform, though it is possible a cap might not be adopted by August 2013, according to an NCAA spokesman. One option being considered would prohibit schools from hiring individuals associated with a specific recruit to a non-coaching position.
While some coaches are excited about the prospect of having more flexibility when it comes to recruiting, others aren’t yet sold on how much the proposed rule change would change their approach.
“If it was someone that I was recruiting, I still would want to do as much legwork as I could as possible, not necessarily someone else,” said Chip West, Virginia’s cornerbacks coach and assistant recruiting coordinator. “You always need help to be a great recruiter, but in the same token, I love doing that.”