NCAA lifts ban on texts from coaches to recruits; no action on uniform start date

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted Saturday in favor of deregulation that will affect a wide swath of the rulebook for all sports, including getting rid of a ban on text messages from coaches to recruits.

In all, 25 of 26 proposals recomended last month by the NCAA Rules Working Group were approved and will go into effect Aug. 1. The board delayed action on one of the most controversial – a uniform start date for recruiting. The presidents asked the Rules Working Group to expedite its study of the issue and return with a solution as soon as possible.


Limiting the start date for recruiting has been a hot topic in men's lacrosse, which in recent years has seen a steady increase in oral commitments by high school sophomores and, in November, the first commitment by a freshman. It appears the new changes won't do anything to stem the tide of commitments by underclassmen, however.

Other areas deregulated by Saturday's vote include personnel, amateurism, recruiting, eligibility, awards, benefits and expenses.


In addition to eliminating restrictions on text messages to recruits, regulations on printed recruiting materials were also scrapped. Saturday's vote does increase regulations in some areas; for example, schools will be able to pay for medical expenses but in most cases will no longer be able to scout opponents in person.

"These new rules take a significant step toward changing the regulatory culture in Division I," board chairman Nathan Hatch, president at Wake Forest, said according to an article on NCAA.org. "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 rules changes are the latest transformation to grow from the August 2011 summit for Division I presidents and chancellors.

"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," NCAA President Mark Emmert said. "This vote by the Board of Directors refocuses our attention on the things that really matter: the core values of intercollegiate athletics."

According to the original proposal, the official date when coaches may verbally contact recruits would have been moved to July 1 after their sophomore year; off-campus contact would be allowed starting with the first day of a recruit's junior year.

"Various membership constituents raised issues with the uniform date," according to the NCAA article, "with some wishing it were earlier and others hoping for a later date."

Here's a rundown of the proposals the Board of Directors adopted Saturday:

  • 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 like from 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 noninstitutional 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.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun