An early signing period in college football is one step closer to a vote.
In the latest package, the Football Oversight Committee maintained its support for a mid-December signing date that would last 72 hours and coincides with the time junior college players can sign a National Letter of Intent. But the committee also recommended the Division I Council ask the Collegiate Commissioners Association, the group that oversees the NLI program, to not adopt a separate 72-hour NLI signing period for football that would have started on the last Wednesday in June.
The proposal would not change the traditional date for high school football prospects to sign, the first Wednesday in February.
Coaches and administrators have discussed creating an early signing period for years, and the Football Oversight Committee and the Division I Football Recruiting Ad Hoc Working Group studied the issue thoroughly, focusing their proposal on four areas: camps and clinics; revising the recruiting calendar; regulating employment of individuals associated with prospects; and FBS coaching limits.
Ultimately, oversight committee members believe they have developed a recruiting model that balances the interests of all involved.
“What we heard from the coaches at the American Football Coaches Association meetings that the June signing date was problematic,” said Bob Bowlsby, chair of the Division I Football Oversight Committee and commissioner of the Big 12 Conference. “We knew one of the charges to our committee was to open earlier access. We will continue to look for an earlier signing date than mid-December, but we will move ahead on the other parts of the process. This is a significant move forward in football recruiting. We think it is student-athlete-friendly, family-friendly and coach-friendly.”
Another tweak to the recruiting proposal would expand opportunities for football prospects to take official visits during their junior year of high school by permitting those expense-paid visits to occur from April 1 through the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June. The original proposal would have permitted those visits to occur from June 1 through the Saturday before the last Wednesday in June and from July 25 through July 31 after a football prospect’s junior year in high school.
The recommended changes would prevent official visits that occur in June in conjunction with a prospect’s participation in a school’s camp or clinic.