A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Opinion: NCAA Recruiting

In terms of what a college can do to recruit an athlete to its program, the NCAA is failing. The system in use is bypassed and overlooked by many big-time universities. Every college is constantly trying to find new ways to exploit the rules against communication and interaction between a student athlete and a college coach. According to the rule, no college coach can call a student athlete until July 1st of their junior year in high school. The probability of the college coach actually following that is very low. If a coach really wants that player, he is going to be calling the player’s coach. He may also have players from his team get into contact with the recruit via Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Coaches are going to bend the rules any way they can to get the best players for their programs.

When analyzing players and their abilities, during certain time frames, a college cannot talk to or even see a potential college athlete perform. Division I schools are able to have players come out and work with their team to get a better idea of the talent the player has. Division III teams have the same ability. The only exception is Division II. Division II is not allowed to have players come out and work out with their program. This is unfair when considering the advantages that a team gets when looking at potential recruits.

The solution would be to make a new set of recruiting standards and rules that will be more equal as well as more lenient. The rules in place now are far too strict and they favor the bigger schools. A good idea would be to tighten up the regulations on the bigger schools and loosen up on the rules for the smaller schools. That would help the smaller schools stay in the recruiting game. It levels the playing field for all teams at the college level.

If the NCAA is concerned about early exposure and poor ethics, they need to access and break down the cases where college coaches are practically lining the sidelines of middle school football games. There are some players that can dominate at a young age due to a growth spurt or some other genetic reason. Years down the road, things like that can mean less as the other athletes grow and improve to reach the same level. When some colleges are recruiting their new freshman class, they will offer scholarships to eight people when in reality only four are available. They do that in hope that four of them say yes. What happens to the other four people is much different. The college cuts all communication with the player and leaves them out to dry. It is unfair to the athlete and their family. It gets the player to think that they have the scholarship in the bag and that their college would be partially or fully paid for, only to have the college back out of the deal, putting the athlete in a really bad spot.

College visits are also on the hotseat. There have been cases where college coaches have been cited calling escort services for the top recruits to try and sway their decision. There are a lot of times in which recruits are offered drugs, alcohol, and sex to entice them to attend and play football at that school. That is illegal and can be very damaging to a program if that were released to the public. It could get the coach arrested, the program investigated, numerous people fired, and the team reputation sent down the drain. The NCAA needs to investigate the integrity of recruiting of all schools, not just the ones currently under fire. There needs to be a crackdown on this behavior to help ensure the safety of the recruits and the current players involved. It is an illegal action that endangers the high school athletic recruits.

As of now college football is more like a business than a game. There is far too much politics involved in the game. This is adding issues to a process that just should not have these problems. There are numerous changes that can be made in order to improve the system currently in use that will make it safer and much more fair. Changes such as in the exposure, treatment, and recruiting of student athletes. Since the party of concern is the player, their safety and well being should be the top priority, not having a record of 5-7 instead of 4-8. If these changes are made, there will be an obvious improvement over the old, out-of-date set of rules.