Big Ten coaches support June official visits

CHICAGO -- For the second consecutive year, Big Ten coaches and administrators have discussed a proposal that would allow football recruits to take official visits in June.

The plan wouldn't adjust the number of official visits a prospect can take (five), but it would allow recruits, many of whom make verbal commitments during or shortly after their junior years, to get on campuses as soon as their junior years end. Right now, many prospects take unofficial visits in June, which can take a financial toll.

NCAA recruiting rules only allow prospects take official visits after their senior years have begun.

"It's something we'd like to do," Illinois head coach Ron Zook said. "Particularly if everyone keeps pushing the early signing date, it just makes sense. It gives you an opportunity to get to know them a little bit better, it gives you an opportunity to get them on your campus. Otherwise, they might be signing before their families get on campus."

Zook said one of the questions about the proposal is whether prospects would take official visits in June and then stay for football camps at schools. He thinks the rule should be written to prohibit prospects from doing both.

"Everybody in our room is in favor of it," Zook said.

"So many kids are taking unofficial visits right now and the cost to families is astronomical trying to go see X amount of schools in June,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “It only makes sense. How many of these kids are making early decisions, making verbal commitments, without ever taking an official visit that you can pay for to be on campus for that 48-hour window?"

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said the proposal would be discussed further at meetings Wednesday afternoon. It could be tweaked a bit before moving up the ladder toward the NCAA.

Alvarez supports June official visits, adding that an early signing period in recruiting seems more and more likely.

"The coaches are in favor of [an early signing period], most of the leagues are in favor of it," Alvarez said. "Somehow it got stopped in legislation last year. We're not really sure where, but everyone seems to be in favor of it. That wasn't the case a few years ago. A few years ago, it was split 50-50.

"Most of our [teams] have five to 10 commitments now. The kids that have committed know where they want to go. Why not let them sign in December?"