The report of the Division I Board of Directors meeting at the January 2014 NCAA Convention is mostly what you would expect. The board approved the actions of the Leadership Council, which included granting temporary authority to the NCAA staff in some areas. The board left alone the legislation adopted by the Legislative Council meaning it is now in the override period until March 19. And the board summarized its view of the governance dialogue sessions by acknowledging “some cynicism” in the membership but also momentum gathering behind the proposed changes.
The very last bit of the report is the most interesting. The Board of Directors listed three future agenda items which may become priorities for the board over the next year or so. Two are obvious what the issue is, while one is a bit cryptic:
- Early Recruiting.
- Impact of transfer-related issues on institutional reputation.
The NCAA has been agitating against the NBA’s draft age limit that creates the one-and-done college basketball player for a couple years. First it was NCAA president Mark Emmert, then commissioners, and now the issue has trickled all the way up to the university presidents on the Board of Directors. But aside from adopting a position opposing the NBA’s rule and asking the NBA to change it, there is little the NCAA is willing and able to do to effect actual change.
Early recruiting fears are the other side of the coin to recruiting deregulation. The concern is that if recruiting is deregulated and activities like phone calls, off-campus contact and official visits start earlier, then coaches and prospects looking to get a leg up will start even earlier. Back in 2009, the SEC sponsored Proposal 2009–28-A which would have cut off many of the ways women’s soccer coaches and prospects interact before coaches can contact prospects and set the start date for many activities as August 1st of the prospect’s senior year in high school. The Ivy League then sponsored another version (Proposal 2009–28-B) which removed some of the limits but expanded the rest to all sports. Both were defeated. If the board decides to act, something like those proposals might be the template.
The bullet about the impact of transfer issues on institution reputation is confusing. The best case scenario would be that the Board of Directors has realized that the current transfer rules have to be reevaluated to ensure they are consistent with the educational mission of NCAA institutions. The worst case scenario is that the Board of Directors has noticed the heat institutions are taking on transfer rules and want to find a way to deflect that criticism without changing the actual rules.
All of these are just three bullets the Board of Directors will be looking at in the coming months and years. And all of them are subject to change as the governance structure including the board itself is changed over the next year.