BALTIMORE, MARYLAND-A series of reforms designed to eliminate excesses and a "sense of entitlement" in the recruitment of student-athletes has been endorsed by the NCAA Division I Management Council.
Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland July 19-20, the Management Council endorsed a series of recommendations adopted earlier this month by the NCAA Task Force on Recruiting, said Chris Monasch, current chair of the NCAA Division I Management Council and commissioner of the America East Conference.
NCAA President Myles Brand created the task force in February following the national attention given to the alleged use of alcohol and sex in the recruiting of prospective student-athletes at major universities.
"The recommendations of the task force are intended to provide a meaningful framework for a prospect and an institution to make an informed decision about attendance at the institution and participation in the athletics program, while at the same time are intended to minimize the focus on competition among institutions for the prospect and the 'sense of entitlement' and the 'celebrity' atmosphere that can ensue," the task force said in its final report.
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors will consider six task force recommendations as emergency legislation at its August 5, meeting for immediate implementation. The Management Council also introduced two measures that will be introduced in the 2004-05 NCAA legislative cycle.
"I am pleased with the commitment of the task force members to take on this project and attempt to be responsive to concerns expressed by President Brand and the Board of Directors," said S. David Berst, chair of the recruiting task force and NCAA vice-president for Division I. "I believe what we have moving forward is meaningful, and I believe it will reduce by a half step the competitive nature of the 48 hours of the recruiting visit, and I hope we go further in the future."
The six measures to be considered as emergency legislation by the Division I Board of Directors in August include the following:
Member institutions must develop written policies for official recruiting visits to be approved by the president or chancellor. The policies would apply to prospective student-athletes, student hosts, coaches and other athletics administrators. Among other things, the policies must prohibit the use of alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling in recruiting. Colleges and universities must submit their official and unofficial visit policies to their conference offices by December 1, 2004. Institutions independent of conferences must submit their policies to the NCAA national office. The policies must be reviewed every four years by an outside entity. Under this measure, the NCAA reserves the right to investigate major violations of recruiting policy.
Institutions must use commercial air transportation at coach-class airfare to transport a prospect to and from an official visit. This rule is designed to minimize expectations created by the use of private or chartered airplanes in the recruitment process.
Institutions must use standard vehicles to transport prospects and those accompanying them on official visits. The vehicles must be the same as those used to transport any prospective student. This measure is intended to prohibit the use of specialized vehicles, such as those with special decor or modified with televisions, which could create a sense of entitlement for prospective student-athletes.
Prospects and their parents or legal guardians must be housed in standard lodging without special accessories and be offered standard meals comparable to those offered on campus. This proposal is intended to help institutions establish an environment during an official visit that resembles normal campus life for student-athletes.
Students who host prospects during official or unofficial visits must be current student-athletes or students designated to conduct campus visits or tours for all prospective students. This rule is intended to establish an environment similar to that experienced by all prospective students on official visits. Gender-specific groups could still be permitted if they are organized consistent with the overall campus visit program.
Institutions cannot develop personalized recruiting aides, such as personalized jerseys and personalized audio/video scoreboard presentations, or engage in any game-day simulations during a prospect's official or unofficial visit. This measure would not prohibit prospective student-athletes from visiting the locker room before or after a game, or standing on the sidelines during pregame activities before being seated in regular seats during the competition.
Monasch said the Management Council introduced two additional recommendations that will be included in the 2004-05 legislative cycle, which would result in final consideration by the Council and the Board in April 2005.
The first recommendation would allow institutions to pay the cost of airfare for one parent or legal guardian to accompany a prospect during an official visit. This proposal is intended to assist a prospect and his or her family in assessing academic and athletic opportunities on a campus.
The second recommendation would reduce the number of official visits from five to four. The recruiting task force noted that current data show in football and basketball that most prospects are not using the full allotment of visits.
In other action, Monasch said the Management Council agreed to introduce proposals into the 2004-05 legislative cycle developed by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association that are intended to improve recruiting, retention and graduation of basketball student-athletes.
Management Council members stressed that their action simply allows for the proposals to be included and debated in the annual legislative cycle and does not imply specific support for the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) or Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) packages.
The NABC plan includes a number of groundbreaking items, including proposals to allow more contact between coaches and prospects, foster the mentoring relationship between coaches and student-athletes, and permit five seasons of competition in five years.
"These issues are part of a larger effort by coaches to join with administrators and presidents to do something better for basketball," said Berst. "This is not something the NCAA is trying to impose on basketball. We are giving coaches the opportunity to make their case."
The NABC package is the result of an "ethics summit" held by the NABC last fall to address these issues, and it also stems from a challenge issued last year by NCAA President Myles Brand to basketball coaches to recommend changes in NCAA policy to improve the academic and social well-being of student-athletes.
The NABC plan was endorsed last month by 310 Division I men's basketball coaches and the Division I Men's Basketball Issues Committee, Berst said. The Management Council and the Board of Directors will give the NABC and WBCA plans final consideration in April 2005.