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NCAA Issues Interps on Coaching Involvement and Football Spring Evaluation Period

Monday the NCAA issued three interpretations of Division I rules. Two came from the NCAA staff and one from the Legislative Review and Interpretations Committee. The two staff interpretations dealt with situations where coaches might be providing instruction to athletes during the offseason while the official interpretation from LRIC confirmed a limit on the head football coach during the spring evaluation period.

The first staff interpretation covers whether coaches can be involved with student-athletes during national team events in the offseason:

The academic and membership affairs staff determined that a coaching staff member may engage in coaching activities with a student-athlete during a student-athlete’s participation in national team tryout competition events that occur outside the playing season for a particular sport.

It’s not clear why this interpretation was necessary. The two bylaws cited say exactly what the interpretation said: that coaching athletes outside the playing season is prohibited except when the athlete is competing in events which include national team tryout competitions. Some situation must have come up frequently enough to justify publishing an interp.

The second addresses coaches coaching outside teams that include athletes from another sport:

The academic and membership affairs staff determined an institutional coaching staff member may coach an outside team that includes student-athletes from the same institution who are not members of the coach’s team provided the coaching is not performed at the direction of the student-athletes’ coach and any information related to the student-athletes’ participation is not reported back to the student-athletes’ coach.

The bylaw cite is to 17._., which is a cite to a rule which pops up in each section of Bylaw 17.2 to 17.26, which include the specific playing and practice season regulations for each NCAA sports. In most instances that bylaw says that coaches may not coach outside teams which include athletes with eligibility remaining from the institution’s team in that sport. The interp simply confirms that the inverse is true.

Finally the official interpretation issued confirm that the restrictions which prevent the head coach from recruiting off-campus during the spring evaluation period really mean no off-campus recruiting at all:

The committee determined, in bowl subdivision football, it is not permissible for an institution’s head coach (or any assistant coach who has been publicly designated by the institution to become the next head coach) to make an in-person, off-campus contact with a prospective student-athlete during the April 15 through May 31 evaluation period at any location, even if the prospective student-athlete has signed a National Letter of Intent or the institution’s written offer of admission and/or financial aid or the institution has received the prospective student-athlete’s financial deposit in response to its offer of admission.

This confirms a staff interpretation (now archived) from last month saying exactly the same thing. It seems likely that enough institutions protested that LRIC took a look but agreed with the staff’s initial interpretation.

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