College Hoops "Roundtable": Thoughts on New Recruiting Guidelines

November 3rd, 2011
In advance of the upcoming college basketball season, I recently had the chance to connect with some college basketball writers to discuss some of the hot-button topics in college basketball as well as college sports as a whole. The first question, which can be found here, addressed the impact that conference realignment has had on collegiate athletics. Today's question will deal more with college basketball, and specifically the changes to the recruiting rules made by the NCAA.

Question: What are your thoughts on the new recruiting rules that the NCAA has put in place? Sufficient or no, and if not what would you like changed?

Peter Robert Casey (Five-Star Basketball)
Opening up the contact rules - unlimited texts, emails, calls - was a step in the right direction. Increased contact offers the chance to strengthen player-recruit relationships and gives both parties more opportunities to determine if there's a mutually good fit. Too much contact isn't always perceived in a positive way by kids. But at least now you don't have coaches strategically trying to skirt the limits. As long as it's not abused, I think it works.

I also feel that condensing the July live period was necessary. There were too many games in too many places. The whole thing was tiring and unsightly. Hopefully, though, the new-found time for kids is spent in the gym focused on getting better, while college coaches can have more time at home with their families and back on campus with their teams. Two weekends in April should offer plenty of room for coaches to evaluate talent.
Moving permissible official visits up to January 1st of a prospect's junior year at the schools' expense, seems sensible to me. Hopefully, it cleans up some the dirty behavior that was taking place.

Rob Dauster (Ballin' is a Habit)
I like them. I think that unlimited contact from coaches could end up getting overwhelming, but I think that a coach calling and texting too often will turn a player off from the program. I think bringing April back is important to evaluating the players, and I have no problem with players getting worked out on their recruiting visits or players being allowed to make official visits earlier. Anything that allows a coach to better evaluate a) a player's ability and b) a player's personality and work ethic is a good thing.
If anything is going to be changed, I think I would open July back up to 20 days. Not having coaches on the road isn't going to prevent people from hosting these tournaments and the players from participating. You might as well allow the coaches to be there.

Brian Ewart (
I love the new recruiting rules. There is no reason to restrict kids from visiting schools officially or otherwise, so allowing those visits to start during a players' Junior year is a positive step in that direction. It's also great that coaches can evaluate players in April now and that minimal changes were done to the July open period, coaches and players both benefit from having more opportunities for live evaluation.

I'm also not worried about the phone/text rules being changed. Coaches were skirting those rules with "burner" phones anyway. Now they can go ahead and do what they were doing above-board. If a kid is feeling harassed by the calls or texts then it will be counterproductive for a coach to continue. Coaches who use the calls and texts to build a relationship, rather than to harass will benefit -- and so should the recruits, who will have a better idea of who they are committing to play for.

Troy Machir (Ballin' is a Habit)
The recent changes made by the NCAA are an indication that they are actively trying to make things better. The progress they are making may not be substantial, but at least they are showing us that they realize things need to be changes. Most of the NCAA rules are archaic. I believe that the new text/phone call rules will give some of the power back to the recruits. Certainly there is much more that can be changed in regards to recruiting, but I do think this is a good first step in the right direction.

Ray Mernagh (NBE Sports)
I like the fact that the rules allow for a more thorough relationship between recruits and coaches as well as players and coaches. I also like that coaches will have more evaluation time because that will cut down on mistakes by staffs (hopefully) and cause more kids to end up at the right level for them. I hate the fact that the communication is unlimited. I think kids with parents who can monitor it will be fine because they'll set up boundaries the way good HS coaches/parents did back in the day, and if coaches cross those boundaries they'll be out of the running for the kid. But some kids are going to go from a semi-bothersome level of calls to a bombardment of texts/calls. That's not good for anyone, least of all kids that should be allowed to be kids at least a little bit.

Jon Pence (
The NCAA did a nice job of addressing a problem with runners by allowing coaches to be in contact with players earlier and more frequently. Hopefully this cuts out the need for third parties. The question is what loopholes were opened? One thing that is clear is that NCAA coaches have an innate ability to push the rules to the limit. My only concern is are the players protected from schools badgering them now? The word "unlimited" scares me when it comes to phone calls and texts.

Jon Teitel (
I am all for harsher recruiting rules: the amount of visits/calls/texts is already ridiculous, so to rescind any limits will make it a total free-for-all. If the NCAA allows a coach to send 1,000 private messages on Facebook to a recruit but prohibits a single message about that same player to be made public, I think such a double standard will just encourage schools to do unseemly things behind the scenes with no repercussions. I have no problem with a coach attending a high school player's games, letting him make an official visit to the college campus, or giving him a few calls/emails during the year. Just keep it in check so that the kid has time to enjoy being a kid instead of a highly-prized commodity. I am also a big believer in deterrence: make the rules clear, the penalties severe, instill some fear, and no agents allowed near.

Ben Weixlmann (Heard This Blog)
At first glance, I liked them a lot. Unlike many others, I don't really worry about the unlimited contact becoming an issue. Kids can choose to ignore whomever they want. After all, they do it already. It will force college coaches to be selective about how often they contact kids. I think bringing in an April period is also a win-win. Players will have more chances to get exposure, and coaches will be able to evaluate their progress more readily.

Off the top of my head, the only gripe I have that isn't currently being addressed is having kids play for AAU teams that aren't even anywhere close to their geographic location. When I see this happening, it really makes me wonder how much pull the shoe companies have, and how much illegal activity is still going on behind the scenes of AAU basketball.

My Thoughts
I like the moves made with regards to contact periods, which in theory should allow for better relationships between coaches and prospective student-athletes. That's been a big issue with regards to only allowing coaches to be out on the road for 20 days in July as well. That essentially put a large portion of the recruiting process into the hands of third parties: be it the more accepted scouting guru or the "middle man" than many feel is the most powerful voice on the grassroots circuit (inaccurate assumption in many cases). It should also help out the kids, as playing 20 days practically non-stop does them no good, and it's not like events weren't staged in periods made off limits by the NCAA. For the phone calls and texts: it probably makes it just as important for both sides to establish clear guidelines on how often they speak which is a good thing.

Next Question: What are your thoughts on the initiative to raise the value of a full scholarship (adding up to $2,000 to help reach the total cost of attendance)?