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New NCAA proposal could bring end to satellite camps

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- An early signing period won’t be coming to college football any time soon, but a series of new recruiting rules might be.

Tuesday at the American Football Coaches Association convention in San Antonio, the NCAA revealed 12 news proposals that would dramatically alter the way coaches interact with recruits, and how institutions conduct their summer camps.

Based on feedback provided to the Division I Football Oversight Committee, some of the proposals are expected to pass without issue. Proposal 2015-51-FBS is an example of that. That proposal would eliminate restrictions on electronic communications between coaches and recruits, essentially meaning text messaging would be back in football recruiting. Another that likely won’t receive any pushback is a rule that would allow schools to pay for round-trip costs for two prospective-student athletes’ parents/guardians on official visits.

But other suggested changes created immediate debate with coaches attending the NCAA’s recruiting seminar at the convention.

-- Proposal 2015-59-FBS, brought forward by the ACC, would limit an institution’s summer camps to on-campus or at facilities “regularly used by the program.” If this passes, it would mean the end of satellite camps. These camps have been a hot-button issue in the 2016 recruiting cycle, especially after Michigan’s "Summer Swarm" tour last June that saw the Wolverines hold camps in talent-rich cities like Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Indianapolis. The Wolverines aren’t the only school that used satellite camps to their advantage, but when Jim Harbaugh angered a number of ACC and SEC coaches, the topic became national news.

-- The SEC also suggested another restriction for camps with Proposal 2015-60-FBS, which would limit coaches’ employment to their own institutions’ camps. If it passes, it would eliminate “guest coaching” at other institution’s camps or at third-party camps. Over the past five years, more and more Power 5 recruiters have used camps at smaller institutions in fertile recruiting territories to evaluate prospects. On the other hand, many Group of 5 Conference coaches attend larger schools’ camps to unearth talent that might be recruitable at their level.

Each football playing conference will vote on the proposals in April meetings, and it would a take two-thirds vote for them to formally pass and become the law of the land on the recruiting trail.

Even if the proposals for limitations on summer camps pass, current legislation wouldn’t stop schools from holding actual football practices off campus in places where recruits are. There are multiple reports Harbaugh is preparing to have a portion of Michigan’s spring practices at the IMG Academy in Florida, the most talented high school football program in America. A number of coaches in attendance at the seminar Tuesday believe schools will begin to use this tactic to replace the exposure they got with satellite camps.

While it appears there will be some changes with recruiting rules, Susan Peal, the director of governance for the national letter of intent program, said she is doubtful progress toward an early signing period in college football will be made in 2016. A proposal that would have created an early signing period for high school seniors in mid-December was tabled last June by the Collegiate Commissioners Association.

“The Football Oversight Committee is conducting a comprehensive two-year review of recruiting, and I suspect the Collegiate Commissioners Association won’t take any action on an early signing period until June 2017,” Peal said.