Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet

We don't have a lot of time right at the moment, but I wanted to point out that there is a new governance committee at the NCAA headquarters called the Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet.  Here is a link to the NCAA site where you can find some really good information about the new cabinet, its members, and minutes from their previous meeting. 


The new cabinet has a proposal on the table to prohibit offering scholarships before July 1st in between a players Junior and Senior high school years.  We'll comment more on this specific proposal when we get more time, but until then you can read more about the proposal and reaction from the coaches here:


We have a message for Petrina Long, chair of the cabinet that created this new proposal, regarding her comments below in bold:

Which leads to the second problem. "If someone asks me if I'm going to offer a kid, how do I answer that question?" Donovan said. "What's the right thing to say?"

Technically, the right answer would be "no," since offering a scholarship would be against NCAA rules.

Like some of his colleagues, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins is not a fan of the new NCAA proposal regarding early scholarship offers.

But like much of the NCAA rulebook, this proposal seems ripe for a loophole-exposing game of semantics.

"We understand that there are some ways around this," Long said. "But we hope that coaches will be on board with the spirit and ethics of this. We're all adults here, and it's time we start honoring the spirit of these ideas."

Which is great in theory, but in practice, there's a reason the NCAA manual is thicker than the Chinese phone book.

"If there's a kid in this state who from his freshman year said he wants to be here, that [as] he's grown up he's always wanted to be part of this program, what am I supposed to say?" Huggins said. "Am I supposed to tell him, 'Talk to me in two or three years'? That's not going to happen."

No, what will happen is a coach will tell a recruit that, per NCAA rule, he can't officially offer a scholarship until July 1 before the recruit's senior year but -- wink, wink -- you have a scholarship waiting for you.

If you think that coaches aren't going to find a loophole and exploit it then you are not the person we need leading this cabinet.   Open your eyes.  We implore you not to write proposals that you "hope" everyone as adults will start honoring, but to write proposals and by-laws that spell out the spirit and the ethics and provide for enforcing them and punishing those who do not act in accordance with the spirit and the ethics.   Simply hoping that coaches are going to do the right thing is ridiculous and the kids these coaches are hurting deserve better - these kids are in your care.  Do the right by them because they don't have anyone else to look out for them.

Again, as we have stated many, many time here, oversigning is not a violation of the NCAA rules, it is an ethical issue and those that exploit the loophole are not conducting themselves within the spirit and ethics of the recruiting by-laws.  This is a perfect example as to why you cannot write by-laws and proposals with the assumption that everyone is going to act accordingly, because they are not.  And with regards to oversigning, we're not talking about one or two coaches exploiting the spirit and ethics of the by-laws for signing players, we are talking about the entire history of an entire conference, minus Vanderbilt and Georgia.  Oversigning has been a systemic problem in the SEC since the creation of the conference, just ask Georgia Tech fans about oversigning.

Need further proof that coaches, heck even conference commissioners, look for ways to exploit loopholes in the NCAA rulebook?  Then look no further than how the SEC Championship Game was created.

Schiller remembers sitting around one day with one of his assistants, Mark Womack, now the league's executive associate commissioner. He was looking at the NCAA rule book and the idea was born.

"You know, Mark," Schiller said, "we can have a football championship.'" "What you mean?" Womack responded. "I'm looking at a rule book and it says if you have more than 10 institutions, you can effectively have a championship in any sport," Schiller said.

Somehow, Walter Byers, the dogmatic head of the NCAA, caught wind and immediately called Schiller in Birmingham.

"He said, 'what the heck are you doing?'" Schiller said, remembering the fiery conversation. "That (rule) was not meant for you," Byers told Schiller. "It was meant for hockey, volleyball and soccer (and smaller leagues) where they have 12 or 14 or 16 schools."

"But that's not what the rule books says," fired back Schiller, a former combat pilot in Vietnam who later attained the rank in the Air Force of Brigadier General. Schiller once headed the chemistry department at the Air Force Academy and holds a doctorate in the subject.

Schiller said the conversation deteriorated from there, with Byers "calling me an SOB."

"You're not going to do it," Byers demanded.

Oh yes we are, Schiller responded.

In 1992, the SEC made history by holding its inaugural championship game.


The one good thing that did come out of this proposal, something oversigning.com reader Mario will appreciate, is that recruits will be required to send in 5 semesters or 7 quarters worth of grade transcripts before receiving a scholarship offer.  This is a step in the right direction.  Here is more on that part of the proposal:


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  1. “We implore you not to write proposals that you “hope” everyone as adults will start honoring, but to write proposals and by-laws that spell out the spirit and the ethics and provide for enforcing them and punishing those who do not act in accordance with the spirit and the ethics. Simply hoping that coaches are going to do the right thing is ridiculous and the kids these coaches are hurting deserve better – these kids are in your care. Do the right by them because they don’t have anyone else to look out for them.”

    What an idiotic whining load of drivel. Kids don’t have parents or high school coaches to look out for them and they’re too dumb to think for themselves? They’re completely helpless unless Big Brother at the NCAA in Kansas City writes completely explicit rules to protect them from Jim Tressel offering a scholarship to Ohio State. You’re saying that an NCAA bureaucrat is more interested in the best interests of somebody Ohio State is recruiting than Jim Tressel is?

    We’re talking about the NCAA, the organization that won’t allow common sense things like modest stipends for student athletes so they have enough money for a sports coat to wear to a mandated team function or a little spending money to take a girl out and buy a pizza. Go look at where some of these kids come from.

    The NCAA has the interest of student athletes at heart ahead of its own power and financial interests? Are you serious? The NCAA rule book is already so thick that nobody understands all the rules and even schools that do their best to be squeaky clean regularly self report ridiculous unintentional minor violations. And you think the book needs to be thicker.

    So what should the rule be on how to respond if a kid’s parent asks a college coach whether they have any interest in his kid or not? Is it OK to say “I can’t respond to that” while giving a thumbs up, or does the NCAA need to write explicit instructions about winks, nods and gestures so that the spirit of the rule won’t be violated? Or if that’s not possible, should the NCAA mandate that all contacts between recruits or their families or their coaches and any representative of a university go through an NCAA representative?

    • First, I am going to posit that the NCAA has a right and obligation to develop a system of rules and regulations to govern the actions and inactions of its member schools. These rules are driven by many contituencies. There are rules developed to institutionalize a common culture among all the schools as it relates to sports. There are rules designed to govern the competitive relationships between the schools. There are rules to govern the financial activities of the schools (at least as related to sports) and there are rules to govern the interactions of member schools with outside parties (such as prospective and current student athletes). None of us agrees with all of the rules, but unless we want to revert to a Hobbesian state of nature a governing body is necessary.

      Second, if the NCAA or any governing body is going to promulgate effective rules, they better make damn sure that they are clear and not be reliant on the spirit and ethics of those being regulated to ensure compliance. The NCAA manual, like the IRS tax code, may not need to be thicker, but it certainly needs to be clearer. With regards to scholarship athletes, I see several levels of current NCAA involvement. First, scholarship athletes defined as those enrolled in school or possibly engaged in team practices or activities in anticipation of a pending enrollment. Second, are athletes that have signed LOI’s, which in football normally means a date in February each year. Third, are offered athletes – ones who have been offered a scholarship and fourth are recruited athletes.

      Most of us understand the first of these categories. Players that are enrolled in school and are playing football are subject to various rules. There is still debate about the silliness of some of these rules and plenty of schools are punished for breaking one or more of these rules, but few of us on this blog (unless Pete Carroll is lurking today) have polar opposite understandings of the intent or legitimacy of them.

      The same cannot be said of the other three categories. Some rules seem designed to protect the athletes, some designed to protect competitive balance between programs and some seem designed merely to ensure that all coaches occasionally leave their offices and return home, when it is apparent that some would not do so. The coaches in the article in this post rightly point out the squishiness of the “offered” status. Must an offer be written? Can it be verbal? Can an offer be contrued from a wink or a hand movement? What about the status of those “recruited”. The NCAA spends plenty of time on this subject but with all the direct and indirect contacts and official and unofficial visits and separate issues such as camps, who can be sure of what is within or outside of the regulations in this area. Finally, regarding LOIs, the usual subject of this blog. The LOIs benefit the coaches and schools by limiting the options of the student athlete, but as we have seen, they only limits the coaches of schools or conferences that choose to be limit themselves.

      What should be done? I would eliminate the current category of LOIs. Yes, this would open kids up to continued recruitment, but a solution to this would be to allow kids to enter into a preenrollment agreement with the school. This could be done in February as is the current practice or earlier during the kids’ senior year. On the kids’ side, they must be qualified to be admitted to school pending succesful completion of their senior year in high school. If this were done in February or March, it would be like a normal college application/offer of admission/acceptance all rolled into one. If it were done in the fall of a senior year it would be akin to an early decision process. No more will schools sign kids to LOIs and then wonder how many will qualify. The rule change on the schools’ side will be that in order to make the offer, they must have a spot available on their 85 man roster. By February, seniors have left the team and early NFL entrants will also be gone. A significant difference will be that since kids are immediately placed on the roster when they sign, no schools will be able to oversign in February and then cut down by August. On the other hand, since all commitments are qualifed, the perceived need for oversigning lessens. Teams that are playing at 83 or 84 scholarships because of in-season attrition can defend some qualified recruits by preenrolling them in the fall. This would prevent other schools from continuing to recruit the students, but would immediately occupy a roster spot. I would further regulate recruiting contact with younger athletes, but would not attempt to define categories such as “offered” or “recruited”. These presigning offers and commitments do not mean much in the current system. They would mean even less in my proposed system. In my system, if a student is qualified and the school has a roster spot then both the student and the school become bound and if either party is not prepared to commit, then the commitment will be no more binding on either party than a current verbal commitment (that is not binding at all).

      The other issue this proposal does not address is how to monitor departures from school and scholarship (grades, discipline, medical, willing transfer, etc). I would change the scholarships from the current one year offer to an either four or five year commitment from the school. That said, there will still be attrition. It is probably naive to believe that some coaches will not abuse any discretion given in this area, but I’m not yet comfortable with an NCAA approval for each of these occasions. I will leave this area for others to add to.

      • Lee Roi, with regard to mandating four or five year scholarship commitments from schools, where is the reciprocity, i.e. what does the prospective student athlete commit in return? How do schools deal with situations like the ones in the last week at the University of Tennessee (a group of football players beating and kicking an off duty police officer to the point where he was unconscious and hospitalized for several days, resisting arrest, etc.) or the University of Georgia (DUI, hit and run, underage possession, etc.). Or how about more mundane issues, like cutting classes, falling behind academically, not staying in shape, failure to obey other team rules, etc.?

        I’m still waiting to hear specifics on student athletes who were living up to all their responsibilities and wanted to stay at a school but were cut to make room for a better player. How about a few specific players? How about one?

        The vast majority of scholarships are renewed annually. Where are all these victimized student athletes who need the NCAA to protect them?

        • The comment about a need for four or five year scholarships is about reciprocity. Currently, the school holds all of the cards. If the school wishes to terminate the relationship it is terminated with no consequences. If a player wishes to terminate the relationship, it can only be done with strict consequences (at the least, sitting out a year of competition). We could make a reciprocal move to give both sides the abilty to terminate with minimal consequences, but that would seem to be a bad move for the stability of the sport. Alternatively, we could more strictly bind the schools to a longer term relationship which would make the commitments more equal and thus reciprocal.

          As I said above, I recognize that there are instances where students deserve to lose their scholarship and there must be a process to ensure that this justice is administered evenly. Perhaps, the schools could only replace such forfeited scholarships after a one or two year penalty period. The students that deserve to be punished would be punished, but schools would be less eager to punish the ones who are only punished because a coaching change leaves them in a system that is a poor fit for their talents or because a higher potential recruit becomes available.

          I did not write about cut players or victimized players, so I guess you’ll have to continue to wait for those specifics. The original subject concerned new regulations governing “offers” to prospective athletes (perhaps the NCAA is considering these to aid perceived victims – perhaps just to show they can make new rules). My comment was that more regulations would not necessarily help anyone, but that a few simple reforms in the scholarship process can make many of the existing and future regulations unnecessary. Doing away with the existing system of offers (generally loosely binding if at all on the offering schools) and commitments (meaningless until signing day, but then quite onerous given that the students have ceded there rights of movement for only a year to year obligation) and replacing it with a system of either on the roster or merely being recruited might make many rules unnecessary. There would still need to be some rules on recruiting contacts and still some rules on rights and responsibilities of scholarship athletes, but we would not need to worry whether an athlete was “offered” or not.

      • Solid as always – LRJ. Thanks for posting.

        • I agree with you for the most part too, Lee Roi. Now if we could only get idiots like Pamela Mason to stop confusing us on other websites, I’d be a happy man. But there would appear to be no hope for her. If you have ever seen the photograph that is purported to be her, then you would certainly understand why she has such a foul disposition.

          • LOL Is she still getting under your skin? I know she did over at Sporting News.

            • Not under my skin. But after I saw a picture of her, I had to wash my eyes out with bleach. My son and I watched “District 9″ on DVD last night, She looks sort of like the aliens, only not quite as attractive.

              • I don’t know what pic you saw, but she and I are facebook friends and she is very attractive. If she wasn’t a Buckeye fan that drives you crazy, you would think so too. LOL

                • XB, you may be a worthy “adversary” on an internet forum, but your taste is seriously in question. I had to dose up on anti-depressants after I saw that picture.

  2. LRJ, Great posts! The schools do hold all of the cards and there needs to be some reciprocity. I agree with the 4 or 5 year commitment to the student-athlete instead of a renewal system…There are SA’s who have been runoff…

  3. This is the most pathetic site I have read in a looooong time. You’re just using it for a rant againt Bama and LSU. Why not pick on Auburn, Kansas St., or Iowa St.? They all averaged more signees from 2002-2010 than either Bama or LSU. What a waste of space…

    • Kansas State and Iowa State have not been guilty of oversiging…which shows exactly how little you know about this topic. Like a dumb-ass, you just looked at the recruiting numbers page and looked at the teams with the highest numbers. We’ve railed on Auburn for their numbers because unlike K-State and Iowa State, Auburn’s numbers are so high because of all the academic failures they have had; K-State and Iowa State use a ton of JUCO players that only have 2 years of eligibility which means they have more legit roster turnover. The only thing wasted here were the keystrokes it took for you to type that garbage.

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