Poor Mark Emmert. Even when the guy tries to do something right, it always turns out horribly, unmistakably wrong.
When Emmert first took the job back in the summer of 2010, one of his big platforms was to streamline the NCAA’s famously bulky rule book, and eliminate a lot of petty, unimportant guidelines. At the time it was seen as an important first step for both sides, as a way for the NCAA to stop wasting their time investigating insignificant things, and as a way for schools not to get hit for breaking rules that weren’t really rules. As officials said at the time, the NCAA was essentially too busy chasing people who ran red lights rather than the bank robbers themselves.
Well to his credit, Emmert pushed through quite a bit of that legislation this past year, which was aimed to eliminate some of those rules. It passed in February, with the biggest change allowing for college coaches to have unlimited contact with prospective student-athletes. In the process, this rule was again supposed to help schools avoid getting hit for dumb penalties, like making a few too many phone calls or dropping a few too many texts during a recruiting cycle.
At the time, the legislation was seen as monumental.
But since then it’s become a disaster.
And on Thursday, after receiving over 75 calls from college coaches to have the “unlimited contact” rule changed, it was over-ridden.
Here is the NCAA’s take on the issue, via a Thursday press release:
The Division I Board of Directors on Thursday suspended the rule that would have allowed coaches to communicate with recruits in new ways – including through text messaging – and lifted restrictions on numbers of contacts.
The Board reconsidered its January adoption of the measure after receiving more than 75 override requests.
In suspending the rule, the presidents on the Board endorsed a Rules Working Group recommendation that all the recruiting concepts under review be examined as a group to develop a model that considers how the changes would work together.
In addition to the suspended rule, the NCAA has also three others on hold as well. They are as follows:
- Eliminating rules defining recruiting roles
- Permitting earlier contact with recruits
- Eliminating restrictions on printed recruiting materials
Given what’s happened in recent weeks and months, these decisions aren’t totally surprising.
For one, the concept of “defined recruiting roles” is one that folks around college football have disliked virtually since Day 1. With no defined roles, it literally meant anyone affiliated with a football program- from head coaches, to graduate assistants and even Sports Information Directors- could contact a kid on a school’s behalf. As Dennis Dodd wrote in February, some compared the new legislation to the “The Wild, Wild, West” of recruiting.
The other two rules- earlier contact and eliminating restrictions on printed materials- are problems in their own right. The first is self-explanatory, and the second, well, you’ve seen what has happened this off-season, right? If not, just click here. Or ask Butch Jones.
And then of course there is the big one, the one on unlimited contact with recruits.
Like the other legislation, this was also panned almost immediately. And the reasons why make sense; for one, it would eliminate any and all remaining free time coaches have (which is obviously limited to begin with), and force them into a “keeping up with the Jones’s type situation. After all, if Ole Miss is calling a kid 20 times a day, that probably means that crap, you’ve got to call a kid 20 times a day too.
Not to mention that as annoying as it is for coaches, think about what it must be like for a 17-year-old recruit? They’ve got enough pressure on them as is, and the last thing they need is every coach in the country burning up their phone lines.
Safe to say this was legislation which was doomed to fail from the start.
And there don’t seem to be many people upset that it was overturned on Thursday.
Well, nobody except the poor NCAA officials who tried to helpful in implementing it in the first place.
Follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter @CrystalBallRun.