This is one of the funnier things I’ve read lately. For once, Mark Emmert has a good idea – deregulation of some of the NCAA’s byzantine recruiting rules – and actually follows proper procedure in implementing proposed changes, allowing the membership the opportunity to give feedback about the new rules. So what happens? The rules come out and the Big Ten freaks out.
As part of its deregulating agenda, the NCAA announced 25 recruiting revisions in January. Three proposals, which eventually were tabled and suspended, would have granted programs unlimited contact — including through text messaging — with athletes before their junior seasons. Another would have allowed programs to hire non-coach personnel directors for recruiting and a third would have eliminated restrictions on sending printed recruiting materials to recruits.
Less than a week after national signing day, the league’s football coaches and athletics directors issued a statement admitting there are “serious concerns” about the three rule changes and how they would impact the sport and the schools. The statement also questioned if the changes “are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches.”
Several Big Ten coaches voiced their concerns publicly to the changes, including Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, who said college athletics could become like Major League Baseball where the New York Yankees “start in the inside lane every year. They’ve got the biggest payroll.”
Other Big Ten coaches shared similar concerns. In mid-February, Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer sent a text message to Northwestern counterpart Pat Fitzgerald, writing “that there are already teams that have made plans to have separate scouting depts. [sic]. there has already been nfl scouts that have been told they will be hired to run the dept. (hired for over 200k). I checked with an NFL friend and he confirmed that there was much conversation about this. Appealing to scouts because of no travel. Also, there has been movement to hire Frmr players/coaches with big names to work in that dept. and recruit full time. This will all happen immediately once rule is passed. Thought u should be aware if [sic] this nonsense to share with who u feel can assist.”
Now keep in mind that all this financial hand wringing is coming from the richest conference in the land (Ferentz, notably, makes almost $4 million per year).
Delany, displaying his usual charm and tact, publicly announces his conference’s displeasure with the NCAA’s new course without letting Emmert know what’s coming. That’s when it really gets hilarious.
The legislation ignited an email chain among league presidents, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and NCAA President Mark Emmert. Delany wrote Emmert on Feb. 14 apologizing for not calling him before the league’s Feb. 11 release but hoped the NCAA would delay the rules’ implementation or risk presidents overriding the legislation. Delany wrote that he wanted to maintain the NCAA’s reform deregulation agenda but feared the rules would result in “another level of staffing” for football programs.
Sorry we sandbagged you, Mark, buddy, and we support your agenda – except where we don’t.
Emmert’s response is spot on.
“If now the membership doesn’t want some of these changes, fine by me,” Emmert wrote. “But to be honest, I don’t know how the membership wants to make decisions. The process used to make these changes was as open, representative and democratic and I could imagine — other than the old town hall convention model I suppose.” Emmert also mentioned Big Ten staff worked on the group. Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon chairs the NCAA executive committee. [Emphasis added.]
(Of course Emmert, being Emmert, couldn’t hold the moral high ground without making at least one pointless and stupid observation, saying about one of his members, Rice University, “who I don’t believe is a mainstream D1 school,”.)
Delany’s response to Emmert is a classic.
Delany wrote that administrators understand the need for simpler rules, but added “I’m not sure anyone has an appreciation of the compulsions, competitiveness and energy that underlies that pursuit of a 16 year old recruit by an assistant coach at our institutions. This process of pursuing athletic talent nationally and globally is something we have never found even a half way healthy way of managing/regulating. This continues to be the case.”
This from a guy who’s never been shy about inserting himself into management issues at member schools.
Now he’s just the driver of the clown car.