NCAA passes new rules

The Division I Board of Directors approved the recruiting package Thursday.

When recruiting season begins this fall, prospective student-athletes will find fewer perks on college campuses.

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved a major recruiting reform package Thursday. The new rules take effect immediately.

The changes are intended to eliminate the celebrity atmosphere surrounding recruits on official visits and make the recruiting process more representative of student life on campus.

“What we’re really trying to do is cut down on the amount of competition between institutions for a prospect and also the sense of entitlement, or sense that there are certain perks that come automatically with being a student-athlete,” said Robert Hemenway, chairman of the board of directors.

NCAA President Miles Brand commissioned a recruiting task force in February in response to high-profile scandals at Colorado University, the University of Miami and the University of Minnesota.

Though the reform took shape quickly, Brand said the changes were not merely a knee-jerk reaction.

“It is true we acted rapidly when problems came to the surface through media reports and some of our institutions, but the problems are there and needed to be addressed,” Brand said.

A key component of the reform requires all universities to develop written policies specifically prohibiting inappropriate or illegal behaviors such as the use of alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling in recruiting.

Policies must receive approval from campus presidents or chancellors by Dec. 1.

Most important, a university cannot bring recruits to campus for official visits until its policy is on file with the conference office.

“Your first official visits usually happen around the start of school, so I’m assuming that realistically we have to have something on file with the conference office within the next two or three weeks in order to meet that requirement,” said Frank Kara, the University’s athletics compliance director.

But Athletics Director Joel Maturi said finalizing the policy should not take long.

“We are in pretty good shape with this because we’ve been working on this for some time,” Maturi said.

The athletics department began developing its policy earlier this summer, before the NCAA mandated it do so, he said.

In addition to the NCAA requirements, Big Ten institutions have agreed to include a curfew of no later than 1 a.m. in their policies, Maturi said. The University has not yet determined its curfew, he said.

Another new rule bans lavish accommodations during official visits, requiring institutions to provide “standard” meals and lodging “similar to those offered on campus.”

“Meals and lodging should be within a realm of common sense, and not be some fancy hotel or some incredible meal of a lifetime,” Hemenway said.

But what constitutes “standard” remains unclear, Kara said.

“They didn’t put a mile radius in there, they didn’t put a dollar limit in there, so how are we supposed to tell what’s standard?” Kara said.

Kara said he has asked the Big Ten Conference to organize a conference call for member compliance directors and representatives from the Big Ten and NCAA to better define “standard.”

The most hotly contested aspect of the reform package was a rule limiting airfare to commercial coach fares.

Some officials think the requirement puts rural institutions at a disadvantage because they do not have commercial airports nearby.

In fact, there was enough debate on the matter that it was considered separately from the rest of the reform package.

The board voted 11-3 in favor of the rule.

Despite concerns about competitive equity, Hemenway said there was a general feeling that the use of private jets had contributed to the sense of entitlement in recruiting. The board also wanted a clear standard without the need to grant special waivers based on individual circumstances, he said.

Though the University has a commercial airport nearby, it has other disadvantages, Kara said.

“We don’t have to deal with being hard to fly into, but when we bring in a football recruit in December, it’s cold,” he said. “Everything tends to balance out.”

The new standards also call for using standard vehicles to transport students on campus.

Kara said the rule will have little impact for the University because it generally uses the coach’s car or a vehicle from fleet services. Taxis are sometimes used, he said.

The Big Ten Conference has always banned using limousines and vehicles with televisions, Kara said.

A rule prohibiting the use of personalized recruiting aids such as jerseys or scoreboard presentations will change how the University conducts official visits, Kara said.

Some teams place jerseys with recruits’ names on them in the locker room when touring facilities, Kara said. Under the new rule, teams could no longer do that, he said.

The last component of the reform requires that student hosts be student-athletes on the team recruiting the prospect or a student who conducts tours for the admissions office.

The rule means Go-pher Gold must become part of the University Ambassadors program if it continues in the future, Maturi said.

“Go-pher Gold as we know it cannot exist,” he said. “Whether those people do something with the admissions office and help with athletics “recruiting would not be up to me. The group can no longer be part of the athletics department.”