The NCAA on Sunday, after a meeting in Grapevine, Texas, has unveiled a pile of landmark changes to the Division I rulebook that it believes will protect the well-being of student athletes and remove some of the administrative load for monitoring very specific rules.
The new rules will take effect on August 1, 2013, and the working group that recommended the changes has also called for a two-year waiting period, after which time if this so-called “deregulation” went too far or not far enough.
This is a philosophical change for the NCAA, which said it is hoping to move the key to the rules book from “competitive equity” and “fair competition” rather than limiting the advantages of individual schools. In other words, the rules changes will allow the rich to get richer, while hoping to maintain and enhance the experience of the “student-athlete”.
“Some of our rules are counterintuitive, outdated and just unenforceable. They don’t make sense in the world we live in,” Emmert said. “We are refocusing on the things that really matter, the threats to integrity, and the biggest issues facing intercollegiate athletics.”
One conceivable effect of this as the abilities of schools to put more-and-more money into their athletics programs diverges, we will see the emergence of a Division I “super-class.” In effect, that class already exists (the schools whose football programs are affiliated with the Bowl Championship Series), but these changes could force a defined separation of these juggernaut programs from the “mid-majors”.
There are many significant changes, which are listed at the bottom of this article, but we’ll summarize the ones that we see as most important, especially to swim programs, here:
- Increase in Calculation of Full Scholarships: A student-athlete can receive $300 more than actual and necessary expenses for scholarships, provided those expenses are the result of a permissible source.
- Recruiting Contact/Publicity: There are no longer restrictions on methods and modes of communication during recruiting, and further once an athlete has signed a National Letter of Intent, coaches are free to publicize them in any matter they wish. That means that we will start to be able to receive comment from coaches on their recruiting classes after the early signing period, aside from just a single press release, something against the rules previously.
- Competition-Related Expenses: Competition-related expenses can be paid for by a sponsor, as long as they are not an agent/booster, and further an amateur team (aka a USA Swimming club) or event sponsor can pay for athletes’ competition-related expenses, such as those for a USA Swimming Championship meet, except in tennis.
- Off-Campus Recruiting by Coaches: There will no longer be rules defining which recruiting functions can be performed by assistants or head coaches, and removes the limit on how many coaches can recruit off-campus at any one time.
- Camps and Clinics: The rules on who can be employed at camps and clinics that might include prospective student-athletes have been eased significantly; further, prospective student-athletes can now attend these camps or clinics even during their recruitment. This is significant in swimming, where many college coaches through National Team coaching duties have an opportunity to interact with prospects in a camp/clinic type setting; now more coaches will be able to take advantage of that opportunity through private camps/clinics (though the rules haven’t completely disappeared).
- Support from Schools/USOC: There will be many more opportunities for athletes and their families to recoup from their schools, the NCAA, USA Swimming, or the USOC expenses related to Olympic Trials/Worlds Trials/other National Team qualifying events, as well as to National Team participation events.
- Entertainment: Schools are now allowed to pay for the cost of reasonable entertainment during practices or competitions.
There was no mention in the releases about changing the recruitment-opening date to be uniform with other sports, which perhaps was the most landscape-changing of all proposals. That decision is still being discussed for possible future integration into the rules book, but for now the vote was tabled.
A full FAQ by the NCAA on why the changes are being made can be read here: Breakdown of Division I Rules Changes.
The Board of Directors adopted the following proposals, effective Aug. 1:
- 2-1, which will establish the commitments that guide the underlying operating bylaws. This includes a commitment to fair competition, which “acknowledges that variability will exist among members in advantages, including facilities, geographic location and resources and that such variability should not be justification for future legislation.” It also includes a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
- 11-2, which will eliminate the rules defining recruiting coordination functions that must be performed only by a head or assistant coach.
- 11-3-B, which will prohibit the live scouting of future opponents except in limited circumstances.
- 11-4, which will remove limits on the number of coaches who can recruit off-campus at any one time, the so-called “baton rule.”
- 12-1, which will establish a uniform definition of actual and necessary expenses.
- 12-2, which will allow the calculation of actual and necessary expenses to be based on the total over a calendar year instead of an event-by-event basis for both prospective and enrolled student-athletes.
- 12-3, which will allow a student-athlete to receive $300 more than actual and necessary expenses, provided the expenses come from an otherwise permissible source.
- 12-4, which will permit individuals to receive actual and necessary competition-related expenses from outside sponsors, so long as the person is not an agent, booster or representative of a professional sports organization.
- 12-5, which will allow student-athletes in sports other than tennis to receive up to actual and necessary competition-related expenses based on performance from an amateur team or event sponsor.
- 12-6, which will allow student-athletes and prospects to receive actual and necessary expenses for training, coaching, health insurance and the like from a governmental entity.
- 13-1, which will allow schools to treat prospects like student-athletes for purposes of applying recruiting regulations once a National Letter of Intent or signed offer of admission or financial aid is received.
- 13-3, which will eliminate restrictions on methods and modes of communication during recruiting.
- 13-4, which will eliminate the requirement that institutions provide materials such as the banned-drug list and Academic Progress Rate data to recruits.
- 13-5-A, which will eliminate restrictions on sending printed recruiting materials to recruits. Conferences still will be prohibited from sending printed recruiting materials.
- 13-7, which will eliminate restrictions on publicity once a prospective student-athlete has signed a National Letter of Intent or written offer of financial aid or admission.
- 13-8, which will deregulate camps and clinics employment rules related to both recruits and current student-athletes. Senior football prospects will be allowed to participate in camps and clinics.
- 14-1, which will eliminate academic regulations that are covered elsewhere and directly supported by institutional academic policy.
- 16-1, which will allow institutions, conferences or the NCAA national office to provide an award to student-athletes any time after initial full-time enrollment.
- 16-2, which will allow conferences, an institution, the U.S. Olympic Committee, a national governing body or the awarding agency to provide actual and necessary expenses for a student-athlete to receive a non-institutional award or recognition for athletics or academic accomplishments. Expenses can also be provided for parents/legal guardians, a spouse or other relatives.
- 16-3, which will allow institutions, conferences or the NCAA to pay for other academic support, career counseling or personal development services that support the success of the student-athlete.
- 16-4, which will allow institutions, conferences or the NCAA to pay for medical and related expenses for a student-athlete.
- 16-5, which, except in limited circumstances, will change all Bylaw 16 references to a student-athlete’s spouse, parents, family members or children to “family member,” establish a specific definition of “family member,” and permit specified benefits to such individuals.
- 16-6, which will allow institutions to provide reasonable entertainment in conjunction with competition or practice.
- 16-7, which will allow schools to provide actual and necessary expenses to student-athletes representing the institution in practice and competition (including expenses for activities/travel that are incidental to practice or competition) as well as in noncompetitive events such as goodwill tours and media appearances.
- 16-8, which will allow student-athletes to receive actual and necessary expenses and “reasonable benefits” associated with a national team practice and competition and also will allow institutions to pay for any number of national team tryouts and championship events.