The NCAA committee that proposed football recruiting reforms, which include the addition of early signing periods, wants to create more transparency and access for coaches and players in a process that has been accelerated in recent years, said a key member of the group.
Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst told the Associated Press the football oversight committee created an interconnected and comprehensive package of reforms while acknowledging the new realities of recruiting.
“I think you need to think about it in that more broad context,” Eichorst said in a phone interview Monday. “I know people want to pull pieces and talk about the pieces, but really I think to understand and explain the rationale appropriately, you’ve got to understand the whole process.”
The proposal would change when and where summer camps and clinics can be held and limit so-called satellite camps. High school players would be allowed to take official recruiting visits in the summer before their senior years, conceivably creating opportunities for visits to be paired with attending a camp. The proposed changes, which could go into effect next year, would also allow a 10th assistant football coach and set a hard cap of 25 signees per year.
The piece of the proposal that has drawn the most debate is the creation of two early signing periods in June and December. The June period would allow prospects to sign binding national letters of intent before their senior years of high school. The Collegiate Commissioners Association, which administers the NLI, must approve and implement the new signing periods.
“I hear the reasoning is because there’s so many de-commitments,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said in September about early signing periods before the Division I Council passed the oversight committee’s proposal in early October. “So because 17-year-olds are de-commiting, let’s give them a legal document so they can’t de-commit. That’s not very smart. Young people have a right to choose where they want to go to school. Period. Let them de-commit 100 times.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he was against early signing because it could put players who take big steps forward in their development as seniors at a disadvantage after early signees scoop up scholarships.
But there is no consensus among coaches. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is in favor of an early signing period. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney liked the idea, but prefers the period be in August. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has endorsed ending signing periods and allowing schools and prospects to sign when both agree.- by Ralph D. Russo