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NCAA institutes rule changes for 2017: Early signing period altered, 2-a-day practices banned

Several new measures will now be in effect.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Florida Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA’s D1 Council voted and approved on a few new measures and rule changes that will likely be put into effect later in the month of April.

Two of the main changes are a new recruiting model and the banning of the two-a-day practices.

On the new recruiting model, the approved proposal allows for student athletes in high school to have an earlier signing period than the one currently instituted as well as a host of other new implications.

From the NCAA’s official website, here is the rundown:

- It changes the recruiting calendar to allow for an early signing period in December (effective Aug. 1). Only the Collegiate Commissioners Association can create new National Letter of Intent signing periods.

- It adds a period for official visits that begins April 1 of the junior year and ends the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June of that year. Official visits can’t occur in conjunction with a prospect’s participation in a school’s camp or clinic (effective Aug. 1).

- It prevents Football Bowl Subdivision schools from hiring people close to a prospective student-athlete for a two-year period before and after the student’s anticipated and actual enrollment at the school. This provision was adopted in men’s basketball in 2010 (effective immediately, though schools may honor contracts signed before Jan. 18, 2017).

- Football Bowl Subdivision schools are limited to signing 25 prospective and current student-athletes to a first-time financial aid agreement or a National Letter of Intent. Exceptions exclude current student-athletes who have been enrolled full-time at the school for at least two years and prospective or current student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury (effective for recruits who sign after Aug. 1, 2017).

- It limits the time for Football Bowl Subdivision coaches to participate in camps and clinics to 10 days in June and July and requires that the camps take place on a school’s campus or in facilities regularly used by the school for practice or competition. Staff members with football-specific responsibilities are subject to the same restrictions. The Football Championship Subdivision can conduct and participate in camps during the months of June and July (effective immediately, though schools may honor contracts signed before Jan. 18, 2017).

- It allows coaches employed at a camp or clinic to have recruiting conversations with prospects participating in camps and clinics and requires educational sessions at all camps and clinics detailing initial eligibility standards, gambling rules, agent rules and drug regulations (effective immediately).

- It allows Football Bowl Subdivision schools to hire a 10th assistant coach (effective Jan. 9, 2018).

The new signing period ruling has its fair share of pros and cons as SB Nation’s Bud Elliott wrote earlier Friday, mostly emphasizing how players may not be able to make up for time through school that they’ve not yet accomplished as well as dealing with hurdles of coaching changes among others.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will lose out, but with keeping spring practice in mind, if someone can’t go in early, they may be a step behind those who were able to enroll and sign their NLI early.

Transparency will be big going forward here (and could doubly provide as a big plus for kids), and on the whole this new rhythm and system should be something to watch going forward.

The other major rule change enacted on Friday was one regarding two-a-day practices. The NCAA D1 Council voted to outlaw the longstanding methodology which, truth be told, is more than likely the correct move.

From the NCAA’s website, here is more on the ruling:

Division I football players will no longer have multiple contact practices a day in the preseason, the Division I Council decided at its April 13-14 meeting in Indianapolis.

The Council’s Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision members adopted immediate legislation supporting a plan endorsed by the NCAA Sport Science Institute and leading scientific and sports medicine organizations in the Year-Round Football Practice Contact Recommendations released in January.

“The Council’s action reinforces our commitment to the health and safety of our student-athletes,” said Council chair Jim Phillips, athletics director at Northwestern. “We continue to be guided by the recommendations from medical professionals, coaches and administrators and the strong support for discontinuing two contact practices in the same day.”

Richard Johnson of SB Nation provided his own analysis on the ruling, standing on the side of the fence that, well, this was long overdue:

There will be a reaction from some of disdain. Just because you practiced eight times a day uphill both ways in the snow doesn’t mean that it was smart. It also doesn’t mean that today’s players should have to do the same. The romanticized nature of the way football used to be goes way back. Bear Bryant is famous for a hellish training camp before his first season at Texas A&M in 1954, which was commemorated in the TV movie The Junction Boys.


The paradigm has shifted to be smarter about how players train in a violent sport. You’ll never take all the contact out of the game, but reducing it is important to player safety.

And, really, Johnson is correct. We’re in a day and age where we know the risks of football, we know how it can affect bodies, especially ones that aren’t fully developed like those for kids still in college. Eliminating a two-a-day practice, which in itself levies more pain and damage on the human anatomy and the body, is the only way to go if you talk the big game of caring about the players and their safety.

This ruling, unlike the one about an early signing period, likely won’t see many cons arise. It can only help everybody going forward.