Division I took its first steps toward a rulebook that is more meaningful, enforceable and supportive of student-athlete success when the Board of Directors on Saturday adopted a set of proposals aimed at creating a more flexible manual based on common sense.
The rules changes are the latest transformation to grow from the August 2011 summit for Division I presidents and chancellors. NCAA President Mark Emmert called the summit to further engage presidential leadership to address the critical issues facing intercollegiate athletics.
Already, the division has acted in several important areas in response to the summit. The changes include enhanced academic eligibility standards for incoming freshmen and student-athletes who transfer from two-year colleges, the creation of a tie between a team’s academic performance and participation in NCAA championships, a revamped enforcement and Committee on Infractions process, and a multiyear scholarship model.
“These new rules represent noteworthy progress toward what can only be described as more common sense rules that allow schools more discretion in decision-making,” Emmert said. “This vote by the Board of Directors refocuses our attention on the things that really matter, the core values of intercollegiate athletics.”
The Board voted Saturday to deregulate in several areas, including personnel, amateurism, recruiting, eligibility and awards, benefits and expenses, and create a set of commitments that will serve as the foundation for all future rules changes. The legislation eliminates some rules (such as prohibitions on texting recruits and regulations of printed recruiting materials) and adds others (schools can pay for medical expenses and can’t scout opponents in person). All the proposals are effective Aug. 1, 2013.
“These new rules take a significant step toward changing the regulatory culture in Division I,” said Board chair Nathan Hatch, president at Wake Forest. “These changes make sense not only for our administrators and coaches but also for our student-athletes, the students who will eventually play sports on our campuses and the NCAA national office. Most important, we now have guideposts, in the form of the Division I commitments, to shape all our future rules.”
The simplification of the rules book, officially known as the Division I Manual, is generally considered the toughest assignment coming out of the August 2011 presidential summit. A rules working group forwarded the recommended changes to the Board after more than a year of work constructing the proposals, which included extensive collaboration with the membership. While the rules changes do not reflect unanimous support from all 370 Division I schools, the presidents concluded that streamlining the rulebook would both improve the division and better support student-athletes.
The rules working group now will embark upon the second phase of the effort to change the rules culture. This will include examining financial aid and playing and practice season rules, along with recommending continued changes in areas from the first phase. Clemson president Jim Barker, chair of the working group, said at the group’s meeting last month that he hopes the membership remains actively engaged in the process.
“A successful culture change will require a collaborative effort and a sense of shared responsibility,” Barker said at the time. “Our goal is smarter rules and tougher enforcement.”
The Board delayed a decision on one of the most controversial pieces in the Rules Working Group package – the creation of a uniform start date for recruiting in all sports. The presidents asked the working group to expedite its study of the issue and come back with a solution as soon as possible.
The change was intended to ease administrative burden and allow coaches to develop a deeper relationship with recruits before commitments are made. However, various membership constituents raised issues with the uniform date, with some wishing it were earlier and others hoping for a later date. The Division I Leadership Council recommended a delay.
Any rule adopted through the new process will be reviewed after two years. The timeline will allow for the new rules to work for a period before opening them to changes. The rules working group is devising a new approach to the legislative process in Division I to include an initial vetting of all proposals to ensure they adhere to the guidelines established by the working group in its review of the rules: Is it enforceable? Is it consequential and national in significance? Does it support student-athlete success?
Proposed changes will be filtered through a new process. The presidents have said they will consider only legislation that is within the reform agenda for the next year.
“When this process is complete, Division I should operate with rules that create more ways to provide for our student-athletes and are easier to understand and apply,” Hatch said.
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 likefrom 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.