Education Law

Jumping through Hoops: NCAA Revises Recruiting Rules

It's every high school basketball player's dream: To be courted by a college team. They get the red carpet treatment, and tour around the campus like a celebrity.

In years past, recruitment included expensive gifts and promises of more luxuries. Now the NCAA is considering proposals to improve the recruiting process and get away from questionable recruiting techniques.

NCAA Proposals on Recruitment

The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) is the national governing body that oversees all aspects of college sports. One of its most important duties is monitoring college recruiting, as it sets the stage for every young player's future.

The NCAA's Legislative Council works like a state or federal government legislature. At the annual NCAA convention in Atlanta this January, the Council voted on new proposals. Two of them addressed the recruiting process.

The first proposal prevents colleges from hiring anyone connected with a student recruit two years before or after the student enrolls. This proposal was approved and adopted by the Legislative Council.

The hiring limit proposal may have come from high-profile recruiting incidents involving two Midwestern universities. These incidents involved hiring a coach, who eventually transferred, and left after the student graduated. This created the impression that coaches were hired to influence students' decisions on where to enroll.

The second proposal prohibits camps and clinics from having instructors who aren't enrolled in or coaching at the host college. The Council voted to seek feedback on the proposal. The reason for this proposal was concern about the pressure to impress potential recruiters placed on attending athletes. This is especially true if the instructors included coaches and managers from other colleges.

Know the Rules

Parents and students are urged to review the NCAA rules and their state athletic association rules when they begin looking at colleges. Talk with school counselors and athletic directors to know your state's rules. Otherwise, you could jeopardize your student's ability to continue playing sports throughout high school.

NCAA rules are more complicated and less well-known to high school students and their parents. Visit the NCAA web site, the individual college web site, and talk with athletic department staff about their rules and expectations.

Also understand any scholarships attached to playing sports and what happens if you child gets injured. This could affect your child's education.

Contracts Should Be Reviewed

The lucky student offered a scholarship to play college sports will be asked to sign documents which might include letters of intent or contracts. These documents may include confusing language.

If you and your student are asked to sign documents committing to college sports or scholarships, take the time to have an attorney review the documents before signing. It's important that you fully understand the responsibilities.

Once the papers are signed, they're legally binding contracts. Be sure to keep copies of all letters, contracts and other documents for future reference.

Above all, if you're uncertain about whether a college's recruiting practices are legitimate, contact an attorney, the college athletic director, or the NCAA. Don't assume that the legal rights of you and your student will be protected.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What is the difference between a letter of intent and a full contract?
  • Can I sign an agreement to play in the NCAA and then enter the NBA draft soon after?
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