clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The NCAA's never going to fix this rule schools can use against recruits

The NCAA has too much of a legal stake in the matter.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The day after National Signing Day is customarily the day when a number of college football assistants take jobs at other teams. Coaches tend to put off these moves in order to wait until recruits sign their letters of intent, which bind players and keep them from changing schools based on coaching changes.

This is devious, and it's not in the best interest of the high school seniors who get duped.

This year, many teams saved coaching changes for right after Signing Day, but there are four high-profile cases. Top recruits CeCe Jefferson and Roquan Smith are holding out on signing due to coaching changes, but two others weren't as lucky. Texas signee Du'Vonta Lumpkin and Ohio State signee Mike Weber have expressed their displeasure at position coaches leaving right after Signing Day.

Weber's case is the most controversial, as he could have signed with Michigan had Buckeye running backs coach Stan Drayton left for the Chicago Bears before Signing Day. Now, Weber would have to sit out a year if he chose to leave Ohio State over broken trust, unless the Buckeyes released him to their archrival.

This is a really easy fix for the NCAA. It could change its rules to allow unrestricted transfers if position coaches or coordinators leave. But it's not going to do that, for two main reasons.

First, the NCAA needs the consent of schools to change its rules, and as much as athletic departments and universities claim to care about athletes, they care more about winning. Changing this rule would make it harder for coaches to hang onto recruits in February.

But the second reason is more important. The NCAA is in major legal trouble right now, having lost the O'Bannon case and facing the possibly more challenging Kessler case in the coming years. The association has focused on proving that its athletes commit to schools, not coaches. In fact, the letter of intent states that:

I understand I have signed this NLI with the institution and not for a particular sport or coach. If a coach leaves the institution or the sports program (e.g., not retained, resigns), I remain bound by the provisions of this NLI. I understand it is not uncommon for a coach to leave his or her coaching position.

Athletes don't sign the NLI to clarify this; they do it because they really have no other choice. In actuality, coaches have a major effect on the schools recruits choose, an ESPN poll found. Schools know this, and they also know there is no punishment for exploiting that relationship.

If the NCAA fixes this problem, it would be acknowledging that many recruits choose schools based on coaches, not just the schools themselves. This would not only place more scrutiny on the NIL program, it would also severely hurt the NCAA's court arguments that athletes choose schools primarily because of education.

Making a change to support athletes is not worth that risk to the NCAA.

Five-stars shouldn't sign