Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ACC and SEC head coaches have radically different ideas on rule changes to improve college football recruiting, but there seems to be overwhelming support for an idea to pay travel costs of parents who accompany their sons on college visits.
Both Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson and Georgia's Mark Richt are in favor of the plan, which is gaining in popularity in coaching circles because it projects to save money for the colleges and the high school prospects during the recruiting process.
The idea was recently brought up by coaches at conventions and conference meetings.
Here's how the proposed idea works: The number of official visits for a prospect would be reduced from five to four or three, but the college would cover travel expenses of the prospect's parents or legal guardian to make the visit with their child.
"I think that would be a good deal," Johnson said. "I'm not sure the kids need five visits. If you cut it back to three visits and the colleges paid for the family's travel on those three, I think that would probably be a pretty good model."
Under current NCAA rules, colleges can pay for lodging and food of parents during official visits but not all travel costs to reach campus.
That can become a financial burden on a recruit's family when facing one of the biggest decisions in a young person's life.
"I'm 100 percent behind that because you'd love to have parents come on trips so the young man can make a better decision," Richt said. "And the reality is, most kids don't have five official visits to take. So I think that's a great suggestion and I agree 100 percent on that."
Some of the state's top high school coaches have joined the chorus.
"I think that would be absolutely brilliant," North Gwinnett's Bob Sphire said. "It's a real hardship on a lot of families to make that trip. And they need to be there with their son. That's very, very difficult for a lot of families. That's a huge decision that needs to be a family decision."
Added Central Gwinnett's Todd Wofford: "Most kids don't get anywhere near the five official visits. That would be a huge deal because some kids have legitimate interest in schools that are far away. The parents have to foot the bill if they want to go on that trip, too, and they are a big part of that decision."
Last month across Georgia, more than 200 high school seniors signed football scholarships with FBS schools but less than 2 percent took more than three official campus visits, according to the recruiting website 247Sports.com.
Only one 2014 prospect from Georgia, Liberty County linebacker Raekwon McMillan (signed with Ohio State), used all of his five official visits. More surprisingly, only two recruits took four official visits --- Cedar Grove linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams (South Carolina) and Norcross defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Georgia).
When a prospect takes an official visit to a college located five hours away or less, some make the trip by car because they will be reimbursed at a mileage rate, essentially covering travel costs of their parents.
However, financial concerns arise when prospects book airfare; costs can rise, given limited time to book flights and avoid missing school or if the college is located far away. Last-minute plane tickets for parents are usually a big expense.
Tucker High had four seniors sign last month with FBS schools, including linebacker Justin Hughes with Kansas State and safety Kirk Tucker with Oklahoma State. Both Hughes and Tucker took last-minute trips to distant schools and their parents scrambled to get together necessary funds for airplane tickets to accompany them.
"(A new policy) is definitely a good idea and that's way overdue," Tucker coach Bryan Lamar said. "You always need the parents there so they can make the best decision."
Any new recruiting proposals would have to be submitted by conference officials to the NCAA for review and approval.