High school football players will very likely no longer have to wait until National Signing Day to sign with their desired university.
The NCAA’s Division I Council approved an early-signing period proposal on Friday. The new signing period, which will be in December, would give recruits the opportunity to sign with a school before National Signing Day, the first Wednesday in February.
A potential addition of the early-signing period aligns football more with basketball, which has a fall and spring signing period for recruits. The early-signing period has to be officially approved by the Collegiate Commissioners Association in June, but the NCAA’s allowance of the opportunity likely makes it a formality.
Some coaches like Ohio State’s Urban Meyer had previously voiced opposition to an early-signing period.
The council also approved the addition of a 10th assistant coach on Football Bowl Subdivision school staffs. The change goes into effect in January, meaning schools won’t be scrambling to sign extra assistants before the 2017 season.
“Today’s adoption of the football legislation marks the most significant progress in recent years to improve the football environment and culture for current and prospective student-athletes and coaches,” DI council chair Jim Phillips said in a statement. “Importantly, the action of the NCAA Division I Council delivers on the charge of the Division I Board of Directors to comprehensively improve the football recruiting environment. This affirms that the new Division I governance structure can effectively and timely address important issues.”
The NCAA will ratify the decisions at its board of directors meeting later in the month.
Other changes include:
• A tweak to official visit rules that allows recruits to take official visits starting April 1 of their junior years. The period would end the last Wednesday of the following June.
• Teams can sign up to 25 recruits to financial-aid agreements or National Letters of Intent.
• Coaches can participate in camps or clinics for 10 days in June and July. The camps must take place “on a school’s campus or in facilities regularly used by the school for practice or competition.” Coaches employed at a camp are also now allowed to have recruiting conversations with players at the camps and educational sessions regarding eligibility, gambling, agents and drugs are now required.
• Teams are prevented from hiring someone “close” to a recruit for a support position within two years of the recruit’s enrollment.
“The Council’s action reinforces our commitment to the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Phillips, who is the athletic director at Northwestern, said. “We continue to be guided by the recommendations from medical professionals, coaches and administrators and the strong support for discontinuing two contact practices in the same day.”
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