INDIANAPOLIS (AP) College football recruiting is on the verge of getting a whole new look before the end of this year.
The NCAA's Division I Council approved a sweeping package Friday that would allow players to sign with schools as early as December, allow high school juniors to take official visits from April through June and impose a two-year waiting period before Bowl Subdivision schools can hire people close to recruits to non-coaching positions.
If the package is approved by the Board of Governors on April 26, the signing period change would take effect Aug. 1. The Collegiate Commissioners Association also would have to approve the dates, a move expected to happen in June.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he expects broad support from both groups.
''There were disagreements, there were compromises but at the end of the day, I think we've come up with the most comprehensive and impactful package we've had in football in 25 or 30 years,'' Bowlsby said. ''I think the outcomes are consistent with the board's directive, and I'll be quite surprised if it isn't adopted on the same basis that we approved it at the council level.''
Reaching this point certainly wasn't easy.
Bowlsby acknowledged that the Division I football oversight committee, which he chairs, couldn't get anywhere close to majority support for an early signing date in previous years. This time, with input from the coaches' association, athletic department officials, school leaders and athletes, the vote was almost unanimous. The final tally on the overall package was 14-1, with Conference USA dissenting.
''I'm pleased with the productive football discussions that have taken place this past year,'' ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. ''The ACC is supportive overall and, although not perfect for everyone in every instance, it is significant positive progress for the sport and its student-athletes.''
There had been talk of having two early signing periods - June and December. But the coaches balked at the summer proposal.
Bowlsby promised that his committee would look for other options, perhaps even a 60-day signing window in the fall, to address growing concerns about several issues - including staged signing day spectacles.
Some contended the early visit period should be limited to April, but representatives from the Student-Athlete Advisory Council won the fight to make it three months.
Another measure would limit FBS schools to signing more than 25 recruits each year, an effort to eliminate the issue of ''oversigning.'' Exceptions will be made for current players who have attended classes for at least two years and athletes who suffer incapacitating injuries.
The council also approved a proposal to cap contact practices to once daily - no more ''two-a-days'' with hitting - that would take effect immediately upon approval.
The two-year waiting period on hires applies to before and after the athlete's enrollment at the school. That has provision was adopted in men's basketball in 2010.
More changes could be coming next year, too.
Bowlsby said his committee may look to redefine what constitutes a ''full'' practice and a standardized 14-week format that would require two byes for each FBS team.
''All of this is getting dumped into a bucket that we will look to build on for the coming year,'' he said.
Other rules changes up for final approval by the board include:
- Limiting FBS coaches to participating in camps and clinics to 10 days in June and July, and the camps must take place on a school's campus or in facilities regularly used by the school for practice or play.
- Allowing coaches employed at a camp or clinic to have recruiting conversations with prospects.
- Prohibiting official visits from taking place in conjunction with a prospect's participation at a school camp or clinic.
- Requiring graduate students to complete six degree-applicable hours each term to remain eligible.
- Adding a 10th assistant football coach, which would not go into effect until after the upcoming season.
The Council tabled a proposal that would have prevented coaches from offering scholarships to recruits before Sept. 1 of their junior and defeated a measure that would have made 12-game FCS schedules permanent.
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