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Amended recruiting reforms now allow summer official visits

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- College football recruiting reform has been reformed.

After the NCAA Division I Council and Football Oversight committee introduced sweeping changes to the recruiting model last October that would create early signing periods in late June and mid-December and allow prospects to take official visits in June and July before his senior season, the groups modified the legislation Wednesday during the second day of the NCAA convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

The amendments to NCAA Proposal 2016-16 eliminates the June signing period and focuses entirely on the mid-December date and allows prospects to take visits paid for the school in starting on April 1 and continuing through the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June. Currently there is only one signing day in college football, occurring on the first Wednesday in February, and prospects are not allowed to take official visits until the start of their senior years in high school.

Two different bodies will actually vote on various sections of the proposal. The Collegiate Commissioners Association, a group made up of conference commissioners from the FBS and FCS, controls the national letter of intent and when recruits can officially sign with a school, and the NCAA Division I Council manages the recruiting calendar and official visit schedules.

The CCA will meet again this summer, and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlby said Wednesday the 10 football playing conference commissioners are on board with the mid-December date. Northwestern athletic director and Division I Council chairman Jim Phillips he expects his group to rubber stamp the NCAA portion of proposal in an April vote.

“It will pass,” Phillips said. “This thing could have been extremely contentious and divisive. The thing I will say more than anything is that this has been a collaborative effort. The coaches have been involved. It's been ADs. It’s conference commissioners. It’s faculty athletic reps. It's student athletes. We've had everyone involved. We've had a subcommittee. We've had an oversight committee and we've had the Council.

“This is a prideful moment when you can put away some of your personal feelings and get to a position that's healthy for everyone.”

Last week after a three-hour meeting with more than 100 FBS head coaches, American Football Coaches Association executive director executive director Todd Berry said the coaching community is ready to take “a step toward multiple signing days,” and FBS coaches are “unanimously in favor of a mid-December signing period.” But there was “zero support” for the June signing period, and as a compromise with the oversight committee the recruiting calendar was adjusted for official visits in the spring.

While a June signing period is off the table and the visit calendar has been altered from the original proposal, other portions remained unaltered.

This includes legislation that would cut the number of days in a year from 30 to 10 in which coaches were allowed to conduct camps and require the camps to take place on campuses or in the facilities used primarily for practice or competition by member schools, essentially ending lengthy nationwide barnstorming satellite camp tours like Jim Harbaugh's Summer Swarm Tour.

Also included in the original proposal were the addition of a 10th assistant coach and the introduction of the IAWP rule. With the IAWP rule, schools are prohibited from hiring individuals associated with a prospect (IAWP) in a non-coaching staff position for two years before or after his anticipated enrollment. There is currently a similar rule in place in college basketball.

"We have a package that’s complete,” Bowlsby said. “There’s something in it for everybody. We wanted early access. We got early access. We wanted to clean up camps and clinics. We cleaned up camps and clinics. I think in large measure, the camps and clinics are going to be on university campuses. We limited the number of days. We dealt with individuals associated with prospects. That’s a big deal. I think we made a lot of progress.”

While all of these changes will impact the recruiting model, most of the attention has been focused on the early signing periods and official visit. Dropping June from the proposal was significant, but adding visits to April, May and June is a radical change to the entire process, something that wasn’t lost on Phillips.

“We asked our prospective student athletes and current athletes what they wanted, and they said they want to get on campus earlier than we've allowed them to do,” Phillips said. “Families have asked to do that. It's a hardship to do it at certain times for them. So extending the window doesn't mean they can't come back to the fall and winter of their senior year, but now they have a chance to have it paid for and come on campus earlier.”

If the recruiting reform package passes, as it is expected to do after Wednesday’s developments, Class of 2019 prospects would be allowed to take official visits starting on April 1, 2018 and then sign on Dec. 20, 2018.