Recruiting deregulation defanged

Those sweeping recruiting changes that were so controverial last week are already being watered down this week. And the group that initially proposed them doesn't seem happy about it.

Reacting to “significant membership feedback” Thursday, the 15-person Rules Working Group recommended to the NCAA board of directors modification of two proposals to those recruiting deregs.

The first (RWG-11-2) would have allowed basically anyone drawing breath in the football office to recruit. You'll recall that under the new legislation, SIDs would have been allowed to recruit (but not travel off campus to do so.) It also would have made it possible for football offices to set up call offices to do nothing but call recruits.

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The second (RWG-13-5-A) would have allowed unlimited printed materials in recruiting. In other words, the RWG wants to stifle the return of the 600-page media guide.

Clearly, the rules group that includes representatives from nine conferences as well as the NCAA's new interim enforcement director is not pleased. The NCAA press release is littered with -- shall we say -- expressive language.

“Despite extensive outreach by the Rules Working Group,” it read, “some in the membership recently expressed concern about the possible adverse impact …”

“Men's basketball has operated [with many of the same recruiting rules] for nearly a year, and all the feedback has been positive.”

“The working group members continue to believe that over-communication with recruits will ultimately be ineffective in the recruiting process …”

Translated: OK, fine. We did all we could. You guys figure it out.

I don't know if the possibility of call centers or monster media guides are a bad thing. As I've pointed out, no school ever won a national championship because of its media guide. Kids can mute their phones and ignore calls.

Also, as I've said, these changes had been in the pipeline for a year. Many people have given of themselves selflessly to make this well thought-out legislation. The charge from the August 2011 presidential summit was to -- in essence -- deregulate the NCAA.

So there remains that sense of hypocrisy on the part of the on-campus critics. Sure, the perception is that the NCAA over regulates. So now when the NCAA spends time, effort and manpower trying to deregulate, it gets slammed by coaches coming late to the party.

The old rules still apply: Sometimes it's as hard as hell to achieve real change in the NCAA. If the membership has spoken, it will have to live with the results.

A lot of this is new territory. The RWG had a charge, essentially from Mark Emmert, to clean things up. The RWG is essentially asking the NCAA board that rubber-stamped the legislation to … un-rubber-stamp it. That is pretty much unprecedented.

The RWG is getting out of an override movement among the membership. The board will meet on May 2 in Indianapolis knowing the outcome of that override. In essence, the RWG is adjusting in midstream rather than be embarrassed in May.

You know my take. This is good legislation. The “significant mebership feedback” is a bit misguided. It should have been stated in the last year, not at what amounts to the last minute.


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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