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Rewriting the rules to gain a smarter playing field


February 19. 2013 11:11PM
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INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA released a package of proposals Friday that would change the recruiting calendar, lift restrictions on how and how often coaches can contact recruits, and allow athletes to accept more money for participating in non-scholastic events.


All the proposals are expected to be voted on Jan. 19 at the NCAA's annual convention near Dallas. If approved, they could take effect Aug. 1.


It was the first detailed glimpse into how the NCAA intends to rewrite its massive rulebook and Jim Barker, chairman of the NCAA rules committee working on the plan, said the goal is smarter rules and tougher enforcement.


If the package is approved, the overall result would provide coaches with more leeway in recruiting. The hope is that athletes will build more meaningful relationships with their coaches, and they will get more opportunities to showcase their skills in front of college and pro scouts.


One key recommendation would create a uniform recruiting calendar for all sports and allow coaches to begin contacting potential recruits after July 1 of their sophomore year, though coaches would still have to abide by the no-contact periods.


The rules group believes that the uniform recruiting date will create significant ease of administration on campus, make the rules more understandable and allow for better recruiting decisions from both the coach and prospective student-athlete, said Barker, the Clemson president.


Those were the goals NCAA President Mark Emmert outlined more than a year ago when he backed the move to shrink the rulebook following a year of major college scandals that included stripping a national champion of its title, a Heisman Trophy winner giving back his trophy, criminal allegations and the accusation that another Heisman winner's father was peddling his son's services.


In the wake of so much turmoil, Emmert held a presidential retreat in August 2011 to acknowledge that the governing body needed to focus more on enforcing the rules that go to the heart of college sports — fair play, ethical behavior and tough penalties that dissuade coaches from considering cost-benefit analyses when making decisions about playing by the rules.


Some rules, Emmert acknowledged are simply unenforceable or so narrow they consume too much time and effort at the institution level and the NCAA level.


That's one reason another proposal would allow coaches to reach out to players through any communication mode with no limitation on the number of contacts. College basketball coaches were given that ability in June, and now the working group Barker has led wants to extend those privileges to all sports.


Other proposals would allow:


— Schools to provide normal expenses, including travel expenses, for athletes representing the school at events such as goodwill tours and media appearances;


— Athletes to receive expenses and reasonable benefits associated with practices and competition with national teams, including tryouts;


— Amateur teams or event sponsors to award money beyond an athlete's expenses based on the performance of that athlete or team in all sorts, not just tennis;


— Schools, conferences or the NCAA to pay for medical expenses and any related expenses for the athlete.


Barker acknowledged this is only the first phase of recommendations. The working group is expected to focus next on financial aid, playing and practice season rules.





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