It's been quite an enlightening year in the world of college football recruiting. We've learned a lot about the contact between players and agents in the recruiting process, as well as of alleged solicitation of money by player's parents. Which, when you get down to it, has shown that the NCAA has been on the outside looking in more often than not. I mean, if these are the cases that are being caught and brought to the public's attention, try and imagine everything that has gone on that we don't know about.
It seems that the NCAA has thought about this, and that's why it is planning on getting a lot more involved in the world of college football recruiting in the immediate future.
The NCAA enforcement staff will focus on football recruiting in a new way in the coming months, a project Vice President of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach has discussed with member institutions and the media since assuming her new position last fall.
The initiative – which is not guaranteed to lead to a football-focused, dedicated staff like the Basketball Focus Group – is part of a collaboration between the major-enforcement and agents, gambling and amateurism staff. The latter group made headlines last summer for uncovering various agent-related violations among football student-athletes at several Division I institutions.
Five investigators from major-enforcement and two from the agents, gambling and amateurism staff will spend the next several months building relationships in the football recruiting world (both scholastic and non-scholastic) and gathering information about what is happening in that sport. AGA Director Rachel Newman Baker will lead the group. The intent is to make sure the enforcement staff becomes as knowledgeable about football recruiting as it has grown to be about basketball recruiting.
“We have an idea of what’s going on, but we don’t want to assume anything,” Lach said. “We are trying to find out what the issues are that we need to be tackling. The idea is just to get more information."In other words, instead of finding out what has happened after the fact, the NCAA plans to be in on the process as it's happening. According to our own Bryan Fischer, he talked to a couple of members of the NCAA that told him they were handing out cards to as many players and coaches as they could. This way both sides can remain in touch about what is going on during that player's recruitment, and could possibly help stave off any kind of trouble. It also sends a message to everybody that the NCAA is aware of what's going on, which may help keep violations from occuring.
Now, while the NCAA still has a long way to go before it can clean up the world of recruiting in its entirety, it's nice to see that it has taken this important first step and that it's now a priority.