NCAA gives football early signing period initial OK, could dramatically change recruiting

Sporting News
Head coach Buddy Teevens and Shula played together on Dartmouth’s 1978 Ivy League title team.

David Shula hired as assistant at alma mater Dartmouth

Head coach Buddy Teevens and Shula played together on Dartmouth’s 1978 Ivy League title team.

The NCAA hastakena giant step toward making the recruiting process less stressful for both top football recruits and college coaches.

The NCAA's Division ICouncil voted Friday to approve an early National Signing Day, a three-day period expected to be inmid-December. TheConference Commissioners Association must still vote to approve the measure in June.

While the traditional signing dateon the first Wednesday in February would remain, the earlier signing period would take some of the hassle out of the process for recruits and potentially could bring more parity to the college game.

The legislation package the committee approved also would allow earlier contact between coaches and recruits, although CBS Sports reportedthatdetails of what that entails are unclear.

According to a tweet from theNCAA, the DI Council's decision"allows early football signing period and coaches to recruit at camps and clinics, but restricts when and where they can occur."

For recruits, the allure of an early signing period is simple. By year-end, most seniors already have decided where they plan to attend college the next year. Yet top recruits must still weathertexts, emails, calls, etc., from recruiters, family and friends trying to sway their decisions before the traditional February signing day. With the earlier deadline, they could put all that stressbehind them. It also potentially could lessen the growing influence of third parties in the recruiting process.

Also, recruits who have verbally committed to programs but have not receivedletter-of-intent offers from schools will understand they should look elsewhere before the February deadline (the same benefit applies to schools that sent offers to recruits but didn'tget signed commitments at the early signing period).

Schools could also benefit in other ways. Traditional powers that get a large number of early commitments could avoid wastingthose several extra weeks and resources trying to keep those recruits engaged. Smaller programs could also benefit from early signing, as it could prevent larger programs from "flipping" recruits interested in the smaller schools.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports that if the proposal passes,“it will be the most impactful piece of football recruiting legislation in 25 years.”

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