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Michelle Brutlag Hosick | | October 30, 2013

DI recruiting, access rules changed

The Division I Board of Directors on Wednesday adopted five new football recruiting rules, including one that will allow football coaches increased access to student-athletes in the summer. The measures are effective immediately for Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

The new rules emerged after months of research into recruiting issues identified by football coaches. That research included surveys of both student-athletes and coaches and was conducted by a subcommittee of the division’s Leadership Council.

Both the Legislative Council and the Leadership Council endorsed the changes. Both groups are comprised of representatives from all 32 Division I conferences, with the difference that the Leadership Council focuses on broader issues.

The new rules:

• Allow football student-athletes to participate in preparations for the season during an eight-week period each summer. Those weeks can include eight hours per week of required weight training and conditioning. Up to two of the eight hours can consist of film review. Student-athletes who participate in the summer activities must be enrolled in summer school or meet specific academic benchmarks. The model is similar to those adopted by men’s and women’s basketball in the last two years. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported this change.

• Prohibit a school’s staff members from attending an all-star game or activities associated with those games and from having in-person contact with recruits participating in the games from the time the recruit arrives at the event until he returns to his home or school. Both FBS and FCS supported this ban.

• Establish a dead period when no in-person recruiting can take place. The dead period, scheduled to coincide with winter holidays and the annual American Football Coaches Association convention, begins the Monday of the week in which mid-year junior college transfers can begin signing the National Letter of Intent. It ends the Wednesday of the week of the AFCA convention. For 2013-14, Dec. 16 through Jan. 15 is now a dead period. The FBS supported this proposal, but the FCS did not because its coaches need more time to discuss it. Army and Navy may seek a temporary exception from this new rule if the date of this season’s game makes it difficult for them to follow it.

• Establish a 14-day dead period in late June and early July for Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

• Allow schools to pay for meals for up to four family members who accompany a recruit on an official visit. Before this change, schools could pay for the recruit and his parents, legal guardians, spouse or children, but excluded siblings and other family members. This approach provides schools more flexibility to address each recruit’s specific family situation. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported making the rule more flexible.

Those who recommended the changes believe they will promote a healthy recruiting environment for both recruits and football coaches. They also believe the changes will help protect the integrity of the recruiting process.

In other business, the board asked the Leadership Council to study the issue of online courses and whether heavy reliance on such courses is appropriate for student-athletes.

The current rules outline how online courses can be counted for both full-time enrollment requirements and progress-toward-degree standards. Some presidents noted the importance of student-athletes establishing a physical presence in the classroom, but others said student-athletes should have the same opportunities that are available to other students.

And, in a nod toward all the Division I structure discussion that is expected to take center stage at the Division I Dialogue in January, the presidents also extended the terms for conference  representatives whose tenures were about to expire. The suspension will allow people currently serving to continue their roles while a new Division I structure is developed, eliminating the need for conferences to develop new slates of representatives while the plans for Division I are in transition.

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