Emails show the Big Ten's concerns over proposed recruiting rules

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

Jim Delany shared his concerns in an email exchange with Mark Emmert
Jim Delany shared his concerns in an email exchange with Mark Emmert. (USATSI)

Emails acquired by the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette give a greater insight into why the Big Ten was so worried about rule changes in recruiting this past February.

In January, the NCAA took a step toward a more lax set of recruiting rules that included a few rule changes that would have allowed unlimited contact between schools and recruits during open recruiting periods. It was in February that the Big Ten released a statement voicing its concerns over those rules, three of them in particular.

"We have serious concerns whether these proposals, as currently written, are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches," said the Big Ten statement. "We are also concerned about the adverse effect they would have on college coaches, administrators and university resources. We look forward to working with the NCAA toward improving the game, the recruiting process and the overall college football experience for all student-athletes."

According to the emails acquired by the Gazette, many of the coaches in the Big Ten were concerned about the proposed changes. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz wrote that he was worried college recruiting would become like baseball, with teams like the New York Yankees "start in the inside lane every year. They've got the biggest payroll."

However, it was a text message from Ohio State's Urban Meyer to Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald that was eventually shared among Big Ten presidents and officials that went into much greater detail on what college recruiting could become.

Meyer told Fitzgerald “there are already teams that have made plans to have separate scouting depts. there has already been nfl scouts that have been told they will be hired to run the dept. (hired for over 200k). I checked with an NFL friend and he confirmed that there was much conversation about this. Appealing to scouts because of no travel. Also, there has been movement to hire Frmr players/coaches with big names to work in that dept. and recruit full time. This will all happen immediately once rule is passed. Thought u should be aware if this nonsense to share with who u feel can assist.”

In other words, instead of having the actual coaches doing the recruiting, schools with the available money would essentially be creating departments that are for nothing else but recruiting high school athletes.

There's also an email exchange between Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and NCAA president Mark Emmert in which Delany told Emmert that he feared the new rule changes would lead to "another level of staffing" much like the one that Meyer referred to in his text to Fitzgerald.

“I'm not sure anyone has an appreciation of the compulsions, competitiveness and energy that underlies that pursuit of a 16 year old recruit by an assistant coach at our institutions," wrote Delany in an email to Emmert. "This process of pursuing athletic talent nationally and globally is something we have never found even a half way healthy way of managing/regulating. This continues to be the case.”

The Big Ten's concerns would be heard, as the Division I board of directors would formally suspend the three rules in early May that the Big Ten originally opposed.

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