The leaders of the lacrosse community celebrated back in April when the NCAA Division I Council passed Proposal 2017-1, which banned all recruiting contact with college coaches until September 1 of a lacrosse prospective student athlete’s junior year. The legislation was propelled by the IWLCA, with backing from US Lacrosse and the IMLCA.
But being the first to enact sport-specific early recruiting legislation made it so that hurdles were expected. First, the IWLCA and others had to deal with a loophole in the previous legislation that allowed coaches to contact recruits via camps and clinics — a door that was quickly closed in June of 2017, banning any such contact until Sept. 1 of the junior year.
Now, it seems a second hurdle could be on its way. In early October, the NCAA Division I Council introduced another early recruiting proposal to the 2017-18 cycle, recommended by the Student Athlete Experience Committee, which centers on the dates that prospective recruits can attend unofficial and official visits.
This proposal, which would apply to all collegiate sports other than football and basketball, is parsed out through four main points.
1) Official visits would be permitted beginning Sept. 1 of a recruit’s junior year.
2) Following along with the first point, unofficial visits would not be permitted until Sept. 1 of the sophomore year.
3) Conversations between a coach and prospective recruits at camps or clinics would not be permitted until Sept. 1 of the sophomore year.
4) Schools could pay the roundtrip costs of a student-athletes parent or guardian (up to two people) to accompany him/her on an official.
NCAA DIVISION I COUNCIL PROPOSAL
According to Brandy Hathaway, NCAA director of academic and membership affairs and liaison for the SAEC, the recruiting proposal was inspired by the efforts of the lacrosse community to pass its legislation earlier this year.
“Lacrosse is kind of a trailblazer in that they were a little more advanced in working on things prior to when the governing structure was really digging into the meat of it all,” she said. “That is why the committee felt comfortable recommending the lacrosse proposal. For a lack of a better way to describe it, it was almost like a test case in a way. What was presented to the governing structure was very well supported by the lacrosse coaches. … It seemed like even though there were other early recruiting proposals that were tabled, the lacrosse proposal was so well vetted and supported, the thought was to let those go through, knowing that the committee was going to continue to do its work and we may be coming back to them in the future depending how our review goes on.”
The new recruiting proposal will be voted on next April at the Division I Council meeting. If the proposal, as it stands today, passes, it would come into conflict with a number of elements of the existing lacrosse legislation.
The existing early recruiting rules prohibit any contact between a recruit and coaches, so an unofficial visit during the sophomore year and contact at camps and clinics reverse those regulations.
The official visit after Sept. 1, though, aligns with the timeframe that the lacrosse early recruiting legislation set forth.
The IWLCA and NCAA have had talks since the new recruiting model was introduced, and according to IWLCA Legal Counsel Samantha Ekstrand, the coaches’ association will ask to be exempt from the earlier recruiting contact dates in the proposal.
“On one hand we’re thrilled, because the SAEC, which is where we spent a lot of time with our proposal for the past two and a half years, is understanding and recognizing that early recruiting is an issue and they are trying to address it,” Ekstrand said. “… We are going to strongly and respectfully ask that our Sept. 1 of the junior year lacrosse rule remain intact. We are hopeful that they will be responsive to this request because our legislation is so new. We just got it passed and we’d like to give it a chance to work.”
The IWLCA leaders gathered opinions on the new recruiting proposal at the IWLCA Annual Meetings from Nov. 15-16 and will draft a letter to the NCAA in the coming weeks. The NCAA has until January to make any adjustments to the recruiting model.
“We are very hopeful that this SAEC proposal could pass and we could still be allowed to retain what we worked hard to accomplish: one clear, later date when all lacrosse recruiting is permitted to begin.” Ekstrand said. “We finally have some clarity in our lacrosse community on what that date is and what that contact looks like. … Our huge concern is that the NCAA will pass this and if not exempted, then we would lose that clarity and the purpose of what we worked hard to pass, which would be a huge step backwards for us. This is really important to us and we hope that the NCAA recognizes it’s important and why it’s important."
Both the IWLCA and NCAA have surveys out to coaches in order to gain feedback on the new recruiting proposal and its ramifications for college athletics, particularly in lacrosse.