NCAA approves tighter recruiting rules

Thursday, August 5th 2004, 8:08 pm
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Recruits will find a no-frills-allowed college atmosphere this fall.

The NCAA's Board of Directors approved a package of recruiting reforms Thursday aimed at limiting the perks for prospects. Schools are also being required to take greater responsibility in the recruiting process.

``It is true we acted rapidly, but the problems are there, and they need to be addressed,'' NCAA President Myles Brand said.

The package was a response to high-profile scandals at Colorado and the University of Miami. Brand appointed an 18-member recruiting task force in February, chaired by NCAA Vice President David Berst. The proposals adopted Thursday were emergency legislation and bypassed the usual one-year process.

The new rules prohibit the use of charter flights or private planes on recruiting trips. Also, only school vehicles or standard-equipped vehicles will be allowed to transport recruits and their families.

Schools are allowed to provide recruits with typical meals and rooms, but not at five-star restaurants and hotels.

For the first time, the NCAA will require that each college adopt a written recruiting policy. Colleges must file policy drafts with their conferences before any recruits can visit this year.

College presidents or chancellors must approve finalized policies and file them with their conferences by Dec. 1. Independent schools must file documents with the NCAA.

``The visit process starts at the beginning of the school year,'' Berst said. ``But if you don't have it on file until November, you can't bring in recruits until November.''

The policy must include specific, school-imposed penalties for violations. The NCAA also could sanction violators if infractions rise to a level that is ``fundamentally contrary'' to the school's stated policy.

Among other issues that must be addressed in the document are:

_ A prohibition of underage drinking, sex, drug use, gambling or gaming activities and the use of strippers during campus visits.

_ Statements about curfews, if any, and on- and off-campus entertainment.

_ An explanation of how head coaches will discuss the policy with prospects.

The board also approved a provision that prohibits schools from using personal recruiting aids such as names on the backs of jerseys and scoreboard presentations during campus visits.

NCAA officials hope the changes will eliminate some of the problems that have led to scandals.

``There are a couple of issues that must be addressed,'' Brand said. ``First, there is a culture of entitlement, a sense that there are no holds barred and that anything goes. That has to change.

``The second is accountability,'' he said. ``Who is accountable for assuring neither drugs, nor sex, nor alcohol will be a part of that process?''

Robert Hemenway, Board of Directors chairman and chancellor at Kansas, said the greatest controversy was transportation.

Some schools that do not have access to major airports were worried about the change, but most board members believed a standard needed to be established, he said. The policy could be taken up again if it appears some schools are at a competitive disadvantage.

The recruiting task force also proposed cutting the number of official recruiting visits athletes are allowed, from five to four, and that schools pay for one parent to travel with student-athletes on their official visits.

Those proposals cannot be approved until next year. Hemenway said both had proponents but declined to predict whether they would pass.

``A number of people were very positive about the point with the parent, and I think cutting back the number of visits would be a good thing,'' he said.

Brand called the recruiting reforms a good first step.

``We'll see how far we've gone, and if we have to go farther than that we will,'' he said.

The board also approved a measure that penalizes schools for failing to meet Division I-A football requirements.

The first time a school dropped below the standard, it would receive a notification letter. A second violation during the next 10 years would make that school ineligible for postseason bowl play for at least two years.