CHICAGO – Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on Tuesday defended the comprehensive recruiting reform package that has drawn criticism from many coaches around the country, especially how it alters the recruiting calendar.
The NCAA’s Division I Council in April passed several reforms, including a new policy on official visits (paid for by the universities) that allows prospects to use them from April 1 of their junior year through the Sunday before the last Wednesday of June. Previously, officials visits only took place after prospects began their senior year of high school. The council accelerated official visits to match up with an earlier signing date in mid-December, which the conference commissioners approved in June.
“The changes were necessary and needed,” Delany told ESPN on Tuesday. “They may be imperfect, but when you have a set of circumstances where dozens and dozens of colleges and universities are making hundreds of offers to students who are in high school, before they can even visit a campus, what is that? … All of us who have children know that students who are looking at colleges on a national basis visit colleges when they’re juniors, if they can possibly do it.
“The idea of visiting a college after someone makes you an offer, and after you accept that offer verbally, which is not binding on anybody, just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
Coaches in the SEC, ACC and other conferences have voiced their displeasure about the changes, especially moving up official visits into the spring, when teams are practicing and coaches are out recruiting or holding camps. Some coaches say the new calendar doesn’t allow them to get to know prospects well enough, or see how players develop later in their high school careers. But the reforms stemmed from a desire to match up the calendar with an increasingly accelerated recruiting process where scholarship offers are presented early in players’ high school careers.
The Big Ten has been viewed as a catalyst for the recruiting reforms, even though some of its coaches, like Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, oppose changes to the recruiting calendar. Delany noted that eight of the 10 FBS conferences approved the package of reforms, and that the Division I Council solicited feedback from the American Football Coaches Association, which discussed the proposals with its members in January, and from the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee, chaired by Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
“This is a function of compromise,” Delany said. “It affected the summer and the spring and the signing date and a lot of aspects. It actually showed the functionality of the NCAA to deal with a sport that’s pretty important to a lot of schools, and got, I thought, tremendous consensus. … If people aren’t happy, I attribute it a little bit to not getting exactly what they thought. There’ll be a chance to see whether it’s working and how it’s working.”
Featured Image: Campus Pressbox
Inset Image: ESPN