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Why the NCAA Just Flip-Flopped on Its College Football Recruiting Changes

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 23: NCAA president Mark Emmert (R) speaks as Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA's executive committee and Oregon State president looks on, during a press conference at the NCAA's headquarters to announce sanctions against Penn State University's football program on July 23, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The sanctions are a result of a report that the university concealed allegations of child sexual abuse made against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterMay 3, 2013

When the new rules proposals came down, we at Your Best 11 tipped our cap to Mark Emmert and the NCAA for making the right call in acknowledging that they could not legislate an equal playing field into existence. 

Having already made the decision to table the proposal that would have allowed earlier prospect contacts, eliminated restrictions on who can recruit and removed the limits on printed materials, the NCAA decided to also shut down the unlimited contact proposal.

Well, to be fair to the NCAA, the governing body of collegiate sports did not actually change its stance on its new recruiting rule that would have allowed unlimited contact with prospects. Rather, it was forced to table the measure because the Division I Board of Directors received the 75 override requests necessary to suspend the new rule's implementation.

As the NCAA announced Thursday, the push to eliminate restrictions on contact between coaches and prospects will have to wait until it is reviewed, in conjunction with the other suspended rules. Board chairman  Nathan Hatch stated that they need to "make sure all the pieces of the recruiting model work together to make the most effective change in the culture."

However, the real issue is the same one that the NCAA has run into with everything in the last couple of years: the little guy. We saw it with the full-cost scholarship stipend. We saw it with the hiring of recruiting staffs. We saw it with the contact periods. We are now seeing it with the unlimited contact rules.

While you hear the big-name coaches like Urban Meyer and Mack Brown complain about the new measures, it is not just these outspoken people who hold back progress. No, it is the silent factions that are so worried about someone getting the upper hand that they want to stick to the status quo.

"Don't push through the $2,000 full-cost stipend; we can't afford it."

"Don't let people hire separate recruiting staffs; we can't afford it."

"Don't let us talk to kids earlier; someone might beat me to a guy."

"Don't allow full-color or poster-sized mailers; we don't know how to make those."

And now, we're here: "Don't allow unlimited contact because some other school might be better at it than us."

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Michael Carvell points out:

It is a rule that recruits wanted, and it is a rule that was going to police itself. Instead of having this pushed through, we have schools clinging to the old rules governing contact because the uncharted waters of policing their own contacts is too much for them. 

Which is how we get to now: Seventy-five schools fighting to keep the NCAA's old ways, as everyone else works to clear out the red tape and streamline the process. Seventy-five schools that would rather have the NCAA tell them when and how often they can contact their prospects—even though, thanks to Facebook, Twitter and other mediums, they all plan on talking to them more than the advised amount.

That's the world of collegiate recruiting that we live in. Red tape makes folks comfortable, as long as it keeps up the appearance that no one else might gain a leg up on you.

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