Michael Carvell reports that the SEC won its appeal of the NCAA’s restrictive interpretation of the rule about high school seniors who qualify to enroll early and sign financial aid agreements with more than one program. He sees this as a game-changer, leading to a return of an era when coaches camped out on the doorsteps of the most sought after recruits.
Me, I’m not so sure it’s as big a deal as he hopes.
Because there’s a big caveat in the very first paragraph of the NCAA’s official announcement:
As a part of its April meeting, Division I Legislative Council members decided that schools may continue to recruit prospects who sign financial aid agreements for mid-year enrollment. But if that prospect does not enroll at the school, the school will be considered in violation of recruiting rules. [Emphasis added.]
What it looks like the NCAA has done is to shift the risk from the unknown…
The change created an unintended scenario in which prospects (most often mid-year enrollees) signed multiple offers of financial aid and coaches were incentivized to recruit prospects to sign so they could recruit without restrictions. The act of signing the agreements then lifted recruiting restrictions for that prospect with more than one school and created what some termed an unhealthy recruiting environment surrounding mid-year enrollees.
The official interpretation said that only the first school to sign a prospect to a financial aid agreement was allowed the unlimited recruiting access, but many schools indicated a concern about inadvertent violations. Schools often aren’t aware when prospects sign financial aid agreements with multiple schools and in what order.
… to the known. If you’re a head coach who agrees to let a recruit sign a financial aid agreement, you no longer have to worry about how many other agreements he’s signed. You now have to worry about making sure he’s part of your next class. That strikes me as a tough gamble to take, unless you’re awfully sure about the kid and your chances to sign him.