Contrary to popular belief, the NCAA does make a concerted effort to modernize itself and keep up with the times. In fact, as recently as last month, the Division I Council met and approved changes to a variety of different areas in NCAA Division I athletics. Most notably, the recruiting process and student-athlete representation were updated.
At Signing Day Sports, we take a great interest in any news that pertains to student athletes – especially when it comes to recruitment. It’s important to our team to make sure that our community of athletes is well-educated and informed so that when their time comes to sign their letter of intent or go on an official visit, they’re ready.
With that said, The Wire will dive into the most recent changes that were made and how it will affect prospective student athletes.
Division I Council Changes
First, it’s important to note that these changes were made in collaboration with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. So, in a perfect world, these changes should benefit everybody.
So, let’s get down to it. What has changed and why does it matter?
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
An exciting change is the inclusion of student’s voices and opinions on decisions that directly impact their experience. For example, we have seen lots of conference realignment of late. Previously, these changes and decisions were being made exclusively at the faculty level. Coaches, Athletic Directors, etc. were solely deciding what was the best path forward for their student athletes.
Moving forward, there will be specific, pointed committees that will encourage collaboration and inclusion. A minimum of one collegiate athlete will serve on the committee and will be directly involved in a litany of decisions. So, if your school is rumored to be moving conferences, rest assured knowing that at least one student athlete will provide a voice of reason.
Student-Athlete Support Programs
Another exciting, beneficial change will come in the way of enhanced student athlete support programs. Now, current and former student athletes are guaranteed degree completion funds for at least ten years following the completion of their athletic experience. They will also be granted increased access to medical coverage and mental health services.
Playing Rules Oversight Panel
The Division I Council also approved a proposal recommended by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP) that allows each NCAA division to have some differences in playing rules.
The NCAA is looking to allow for more league flexibility. This is one of the first steps being taken to achieve this goal.
Moving forward, PROP will continue to have oversight of proposed differences in playing rules and may overrule proposed changes if it determines those changes would harm the image of the games or create an unsafe environment for participating student-athletes.
One of the biggest changes to come are the newly adopted recruiting rules for official visits.
Moving forward, prospects will no longer have a limit to the number of official visits they can make to NCAA member schools. Prospects will be limited to one official visit per school, unless there is a head coaching change after an official visit, in which case prospects would be able to complete a second official visit to the same school.
“For young people considering where to go to college, visits to campus – both official and unofficial – are an integral part of the decision-making process,” said Lynda Tealer, executive associate athletics director at Florida and chair of the Division I Council. “This was an opportunity to modernize NCAA rules in a way that provides greater and more meaningful opportunities for prospects going through the recruitment process.”
Official visits may last no longer than a two-night stay, during which schools will be permitted to cover travel costs, transportation, meals and reasonable entertainment for up to two family members accompanying a prospect on that visit.
These rules are being implemented as we speak. For example, the changes to the limit of official visits are being implemented this July. The student-athlete support programs will take effect next year, after schools have been given ample time to set them up.
A big takeaway from these changes is that the NCAA seems to be willing to bend, at least more so than it has before. These changes largely cater to the athlete – which is relatively rare. As evidenced by the increased support, and loosening of restrictions, we can rightfully assume that the NCAA is thinking from the perspective of the athletes now, as opposed to the board of directors’ bottom line.
Again, it’s important to stay up to date on news of this nature. But for today, we can take solace in the fact that the NCAA is modernizing its approach to governing student-athletes. As up-and-coming recruits who will be NCAA athletes soon, consider what other changes you would like to see. Maybe, you will be the voice that speaks on behalf of your peers. What would you fight for then?