Opinion: Time for NCAA to Change Recruiting Rules

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Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Is it right for a college football program to recruit a kid at the last minute who has committed elsewhere?

Conventional wisdom, and my gut instinct, argue, "No, that is definitely wrong."

But here's why it isn't wrong: The NCAA loves to make rules about anything and everything. Its rulebooks are thicker than phone books. And nothing in there says it is wrong to recruit a kid who is committed elsewhere.

Football pays many of the bills for the NCAA and college athletics. If the powers-that-be thought this was wrong, they would've passed legislation years ago.

It could be an easy solution. If colleges truly wanted to address this matter, they would eliminate the annual February spectacle called signing day and allow kids to sign binding agreements at any time during their junior or senior year of high school.

But the NCAA hasn't changed anything and doesn't seem to want to change anything.

Why not? One popular theory is because current rules favor the bigger and richer football programs. They can wait until they've made changes on their coaching staff. They can wait until the last minute (when they've had time to evaluate a high school recruit's senior film) to swoop in and steal.

They kick off a vicious cycle that has become a normal recruiting ritual: The bigger schools steal from smaller schools, which in turn pluck away from even smaller schools, and so forth.

I would guess that some coaches, deep down inside, probably think it's unethical to recruit at the last minute kids who are committed. But that feeling of guilt quickly is overridden by the need for survival and self-preservation.

If you're a coach and you're not recruiting the best players until signing day, then it's perceived you're not trying to put together the best team you can.

And, as history has repeatedly proved every January and February, kids can change their mind at any time --- even at the last minute --- and more than once.

It's that time of the season. Welcome to the wacky world of recruiting.

Staff writer Michael Carvell covers recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


January 19, 2014
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