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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

NCAA: Say Goodbye To April....
More Recruiting Changes On The Way--(Sept. 23, 2003)

Once upon a time, in place far, far away, there was a college basketball July summer basketball recruiting period, a September fall period, and an April  spring recruiting period.  During all of these periods, Division I coaches were allowed to watch college prospects play and to conduct evaluations of those players.

But all was not well with college recruiting.   Expressing its anger over a series of lurid disclosures and allegations involving serial recruiting violations and claims of payments to high school players which culminated in the indictment, conviction and imprisonment of former club travel coach Myron Piggie,  and a scandal which severely curtailed eligibility for a number of then-college players, the NCAA had had enough.  The NCAA resolved to reform the face of college basketball, to put the genie back in the bottle and to restore order.  So the NCAA formed a "Basketball Issues Committee," which proposed a number of sweeping changes.  Those changes, at least the first wave of them, took effect in the fall of 2001.  

That first wave of proposals was all, (so said the NCAA),   part of a plan to increase the role of the "scholastic" coach (i.e., high school coach) and to reduce the "outside influences" brought to bear on high school players by travel team coaches and tournament operators.  At least that's what the NCAA said.

If you liked the first wave of reform in college basketball recruiting, you're going to just love the second wave.  Really.  And it's headed your way right now, this April, which will see no coaches attending any recruiting events anywhere other than open gyms at the prospect's own high school campus.  No outside non-scholastic tournaments.  Essentially, for most of the 500,000 kids the NCAA says play basketball, a dead period. 

How did we get here?  How did it come to this?

Under the first wave of reform, when it came to the April evaluation/contact period,  the NCAA declared that Division I coaches would henceforth only be able to attend events or tournaments which were "sponsored by, conducted by, approved or sanctioned by" a state's high school athletic association or two-year JC athletic association.  The NCAA did this with the full knowledge that most state high school associations would not approve, sanction or conduct events outside of their own high school "season of sport."   States which refused to act included California, whose California Interscholastic Federation maintained that its only mission is to sanction, conduct or approve events involving only interscholastic competition between teams composed of players all from the same high school.    And so, all of the events which had formerly been held within California were forced to seek sanction or approval elsewhere.

What the NCAA didn't count on was that a few states had high school athletic associations which would willingly approve or sanction such events.   Those states included Nevada and Texas, and in fact, they were the only two such state high school athletic associations to allow such events to take place.  This left open a window of opportunity, however small, for those kids who had not yet committed to a school, to get a final look with an NCAA D-I coach just before the late spring signing period.

But evidently, the unhappiness at the NCAA has continued, and the just hated the few spring events which Texas and Nevada certified.  The NCAA says they just exacerbated the problems.  Said they simply lead to more abuses and corruption.  At least that's what they say.

So there is now pending NCAA legislation which is all but certain to end the April tournaments, showcases and anything which is not conducted under the supervision of a high school coach.  And if it doesn't end the tournaments themselves, at least the proposals will insure that no Division I coaches are able to attend such events. 

Under the proposals, Division I coaches will be limited to conducting evaluations in April only at a prospect's high school conducted under the supervision of the high school coach.  No outside site evaluations will be permitted.

For students in California, what this means is that Division I coaches will only be able to watch them play at open-gyms held on their own high school campus.  And how many of those opportunities exist for kids now?  In these days of budget crunches and restrictive CIF rules preventing coaches from working with their own kids outside the season, the answer is "not many."  

Students in the LA City Section, particularly those from the high-profile schools, will have it a bit easier than the rest, because their coaches can work with the players year-round, and thus, those coaches can put together scrimmage game situations involving not only the prospect, but also his teammates on the high school team, certainly a more attractive way to get a college coach to come watch players for evaluation purposes.  

CIF-SS players, on the other hand,  won't be as lucky:   The CIF-SS has the "no-association" rule prevents high school coaches from working with their own players outside the "season of sport" and thus, these students will be limited to evaluations in open-gym settings, where the high school coach is not permitted to provide any structure or involvement.  As one NCAA enforcement officer told us recently, a permissible open gym is one where "the coach opens the doors, rolls out the balls, and gets out of the way."   Indeed, with the CIF-SS "no-association" rule, it is questionable whether the high school coach is even permitted to be in the same gym with his players outside of a p.e. class during the school day.  

The bottom line though is that the April tournaments may be dead.  

Those tournaments, which had existed for years prior to April 2002 (like the Pumps' Easter Classic or Dinos Fullcourt Press Spring tournament, or EBO's "Mats Madness"), all of which had been well-attended by D-I coaches, which morphed into the relocated Nevada and Texas tournaments in 2002 and 2003, will be all but over, for the most part because Division I coaches will not be permitted to attend.   While some event organizers of spring tournaments believe their events will continue to flourish, even without the presence of the coaches (e.g., Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions), how many kids can afford to fly to North Carolina for three games?  Not many.

So who gets hurt by the recent proposal to eliminate (or severely curtail) the April period?  Kids from small schools who don't get evaluated during the regular season, for sure.  And smaller college programs, the ones without huge recruiting budgets will continue to remain shutout when it comes to recruting players outside their own regions.  The rich will get richer.  Oh, the benefits?    As you can see from the NCAA's own analysis of the legislation, the one benefit they point to is that fewer enforcement staff will be out on the road during April.  Whoopee.

Here's the rationale the NCAA has set forth below for making the changes:

"These proposals were developed by the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Issues Committee and were designed to further the original intent behind the development of the new recruiting calendar. The new recruiting calendar was designed to place greater emphasis on the scholastic environment and the recruitment of prospective men’s basketball student-athletes, while minimizing the role of nonscholastic external influences in the recruiting process. The expansion of the April contact period was designed to provide an opportunity for coaches to have earlier access to men’s basketball prospects during their junior year, prior to their participation in summer activities. The extended period during the month of April, however, has resulted in a proliferation of nonscholastic activities and events where organizers attempt to showcase prospect’s talents for personal gain. It also has placed unnecessary pressure on prospects to prepare for and attend these events, potentially interfering with other academic commitments. Concerns also have been expressed regarding the varying policies among state scholastic entities that approve such events. The extended contact period appears to have been viewed by many of our own coaches as an extended time period for evaluation activities, a mindset that arguably serves only to continue to increase the nonscholastic external influences in the lives of men’s basketball prospects. The establishment of restrictions identical to those that exist during the fall contact period (i.e., observing practices, pick-up games and open gyms conducted under the supervision of the high-school or two-year college coach) will provide appropriate evaluation opportunities during the April period while placing a greater emphasis on the scholastic environment."

We won't bore those of you who are not interested in the technicalities of the NCAA legislation with further analysis.  There are actually two sets of proposals, 2003-61 and 2003-62.  Both of them are substantially similar.   Both bear the inocuous titles "Evaluations and Telephone Calls."

Both look simple, appear to serve salutory purposes, seem well-intentioned, but make no mistake about it, these proposals are taking dead-aim at non-scholastic events and their operators, travel team coaches, and also will once again curtail the summer by making the dead period between evaluations longer than it now is.

Suffice it to say, the NCAA continues to alter the face of college basketball recruiting, and pretty soon, all we will wind up with is 40 evaluation days during the season, no fall, no spring, and an abbreviated summer, which may provide severely restricted opportunities for athletes to be seen by Division I coaches.   

Believe us, there are plans in the works right now at the NCAA, as we speak (er, write), to eliminate the summer recruiting period as we know it and to replace it with a series of state-run high school camps, camps where the high school coaches will nominate a limited number of players from around the state to participate. Think about that.  Only selected high school "stars" will be able to play during the summer in front of college coaches.  The rest of the kids will be relegated to instructional camps.  And who gets to decide?  Your friendly high school coach. 

Think we're kidding about this?  Think it sounds far-fetched.  It's not, and we're only a year or two away from that scenario.   We've seen the minutes of  meetings conducted by the NCAA and the NFHSA representatives, and it's their model.  Believe us, they are talking about such a thing and it's just one step from being reality.   Will it happen?  Who knows.

But one thing is for certain:  The NCAA seems bound and determined to want to put the people who run these tournaments during the fall, spring and summer out of business.  Oh, the NCAA says that's not the goal.  The NCAA says, "We aren't putting anyone out of business because no one is stopping these people from putting on events.  We're just limiting where our member schools' coaches can be during certain times of the year."  Er, um, ok.

But what the NCAA doesn't tell us is that one of the reasons that events like the Big Time, the Peach Jam, the AAU Super Showcase, and other such events are huge draws is because players know that college coaches will be in attendance.  And even though the NCAA created the system, and the coaches seem to want it this way, the university and college presidents, who exercise the real power in the NCAA detest the system.    They believe it's just one piece of the puzzle that's brought about everything that's bad in college sports today.  Cleaning up what the presidents see as the mess is just one step.  

We would respectfully suggest, however, that the NCAA look a bit closer at it's own house.  Does anyone seriously believe that without spring, fall and summer recruiting events, that the events which pushed Dave Bliss to do what he did wouldn't have occurred?  These new proposals aren't the solution, and they probably aren't even a step in that direction.   Perhaps the NBCA,  when they get together on October 15, 2003 in Chicago to discuss how the mess in college basketball can be cleaned up, will come up with a plan, something better than what the NCAA administrators and college presidents have come up with so far.  Maybe.   Maybe not. 

Who will these proposal help?  We're not sure. 

We're fairly certain who they will hurt though.

Current high school players who may now be planning to try to get a look from a college coach at one of these spring tournaments, kids who attend small schools or low-profile programs, will be out of luck.  And this will put greater pressure on the high school coaches, here in California and elsewhere, to do the things they need to do to get college coaches out to look at their players.  

For years, high school coaches have been loudly complaining that club coaches and tournament operators haven't had the best interests of their players at heart. That they've only been in it for the money.  Well, now that the power is being shifted back to the high school coaches let's see if things change. We're betting that it's going to be business as usual.  The high profile high school programs will stay high profile, and the rest of the players....well, they may not be heard from again.

These proposals are not yet final.  They are still in the voting/amendment stage.  If you've got a comment about them, post it on our message board, or better yet, send an e-mail to the NCAA telling them how you feel about these proposed changes. 

Here's a list of the members of the NCAA Management Council that will be considering these proposals.  Let them know what you think about by sending them an e-mail.  We don't have e-mail addresses handy for all 49 members, but if you see someone you want to write to, just go to their college website and we're willing to bet you will find their e-mail address.

For those too lazy to do that, the Council Chairperson is Chris Plonsky, Associate AD at the University of Texas, and the Vice-Chair is Chris Monasch, who happens to be the Commissioner of the America East Conference.


The full text of the proposed NCAA Division I Bylaws, which will effectively eliminate the April evaluation period as we know it, is contained below (there are two such proposals, both of which are virtually identical and so we're only setting forth the first.  The second is 2003-62. If you want to see the original text at the NCAA's website, here's the link). 

NO. 2003-61 RECRUITING — MEN’S BASKETBALL —

EVALUATIONS AND TELEPHONES CALLS

Intent: In men’s basketball, to amend the recruiting regulations as follows: (1) establish restrictions during the April contact period that would preclude evaluations at sites other than the prospect’s educational institution; (2) modify the current July evaluation period to establish a six-day dead period between two 10-day evaluation periods from July 6-15 and July 22-31; and (3) permit coaches to make telephone calls to a prospect’s highschool coach (or high-school administrator) during the July evaluation period when the high-school coach or administrator is not in attendance at the prospect’s certified event. 

A. Bylaws: Amend 13.1.7.2.1 by adding new 13.1.7.2.1.1, Page 96, as follows:

13.1.7.2.1.1 Exception—Men’s Basketball. An institutional coaching staff member may have telephone contact with a prospect’s high-school coach (or high-school administrator) while the prospect is participating in a summer certified event, provided the high-school coach or administrator is not in attendance at that summer certified event.”

B. Bylaws: Amend 13.1.8.4, Pages 97-98, as follows:

“13.1.8.4 Evaluation Days—Basketball. In basketball, each institution is limited to 40 evaluation days, per Bylaw 13.02.6.2 during evaluation periods that occur during the academic year. In men’s basketball, evaluations at sites other than the prospect’s educational institution are prohibited during the September and April contact periods. Evaluations at a prospect’s educational institution in conjunction with an off-campus contact remain permissible, but are not included in the 40 days. All evaluations during the academic year shall be limited to regularly scheduled high-school and two-year college contests/tournaments, practices, pick-up games and open gyms conducted under the supervision of the high-school or two-year college coach.

Evaluations during the April contact period are limited to events that are approved, sanctioned, sponsored or conducted by the applicable state high-school or two-year college association, National Federation of High School Associations or the National Junior College Athletic Association and may occur at sites other than the prospect’s educational institution only on Saturday and/or Sunday, and not on any weekend during which the PSAT, SAT, PLAN or ACT national standardized tests are administered. Evaluations during the April contact period are permissible at a prospect’s educational institution only in conjunction with an offcampus contact. Such evaluations are not included in the 40 evaluation days. During the summer evaluation period, a member of an institution’s basketball coaching staff may attend noninstitutional nonorganized events (e.g., pick-up games), institutional basketball camps per Bylaw 13.13.1.1 and noninstitutional organized events (e.g., camps, leagues, tournaments and festivals) that are certified per Bylaw 30.16.”

C. Administrative: Amend 30.11.1, Pages 398-399, as follows:

“30.11.1 Basketball, Men’s. The following contact and evaluation periods shall apply to men’s basketball: [30.11.1-(a) through 30.11.1-(e) unchanged.] “(f) The first Wednesday (8 a.m.) following the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship game through the month of April [except for (1) below]: Contact Period (Evaluations at sites other than the prospect’s educational institution may occur only on Saturday and/or Sunday, and not on any weekend during which the PSAT, SAT, PLAN or ACT national standardized tests are administered No evaluations at sites other than the prospect’s educational institution.)”

[30.11.1-(f)-(1) unchanged.]

[30.11.1-(g) through 30.11.1-(k) unchanged.]

D. Administrative: Amend 30.11.1, Pages 398-399, as follows:

“30.11.1 Basketball, Men’s. The following contact and evaluation periods shall apply to men’s basketball: [30.11.1-(a) through 30.11.1-(f) unchanged.]

“(g) May 1 through July 7 5: Quiet Period

“(h) July 8 6 through July 17 15: Evaluation Period

“(i) July 18 16 through July 21: [except for (1) below] Dead Period

“(1) If it is permissible for an institution to have contact with a prospect who is enrolled in the institution’s summer term (i.e., summer session or summer bridge program) and has signed a National Letter of Intent or other written commitment to attend the institution.”

[30.11.1-(j) through 30.11.1-(k) unchanged.]

Source: NCAA Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet

(Men’s Basketball Issues Committee).

Effective Date: August 1, 2004

Category: Amendment

Topical Area: Recruiting

Rationale: These proposals were developed by the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Issues Committee and were designed to further the original intent behind the development of the new recruiting calendar. The new recruiting calendar was designed to place greater emphasis on the scholastic environment and the recruitment of prospective men’s basketball student-athletes, while minimizing the role of nonscholastic external influences in the recruiting process. The expansion of the April contact period was designed to provide an opportunity for coaches to have earlier access to men’s basketball prospects during their junior year, prior to their participation in summer activities. The extended period during the month of April, however, has resulted in a proliferation of nonscholastic activities and events where organizers attempt to showcase prospect’s talents for personal gain. It also has placed unnecessary pressure on prospects to prepare for and attend these events, potentially interfering with other academic commitments. Concerns also have been expressed regarding the varying policies among state scholastic entities that approve such events. The extended contact period appears to have been viewed by many of our own coaches as an extended time period for evaluation activities, a mindset that arguably serves only to continue to increase the nonscholastic external influences in the lives of men’s basketball prospects. The establishment of restrictions identical to those that exist during the fall contact period (i.e., observing practices, pick-up games and open gyms conducted under the supervision of the high-school or two-year college coach) will provide appropriate evaluation opportunities during the April period while placing a greater emphasis on the scholastic environment.

The increase in the dead period that occurs between the two 10-day summer evaluation periods was proposed by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and should provide an appropriate respite for both coaches and prospects who engage in significant travel during the July evaluation period to attend numerous certified events.

Finally, current regulations preclude coaches from making telephone calls to anyone associated with the prospect during the prospect’s participation in a certified event. In some instances, coaches will observe a prospect for the initial time and seek additional information regarding the prospect’s qualifications and/or remaining summer schedule. The ability to make phone calls to a high-school coach (or administrator) who is not attending the event to ascertain such information does not compromise the objective of prohibiting all interaction at the event site and continues to further the intended goal of placing greater emphasis on the scholastic environment in the recruiting process.

Estimated Budget Impact: No impact; however, there is potential cost savings from the reduction in attendance at nonscholastic events during the April contact period.

Estimated Time Impact: None


 

 

 

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