NCAA Prunes Its Complex Rulebook

NCAA Prunes Its Complex Rulebook
  • Opening Intro -

    Nearly 1,300 colleges and universities belong to the National College Athletic Association, a nonprofit group that organizes athletic programs for member institutions.


Based in Indianapolis, the NCAA sanctions more than 20 sports including programs that are for men only, some that are for women only and a few that are coeducational.

Complex Rulebook

Overseeing a disparate group of schools and athletic programs takes much work with the NCAA using what itself admits to be a “complex rulebook” with sometimes “unenforceable rules” to govern the body.

This past Saturday — on the final day of the NCAA convention — the organization’s Board of Directors approved all but one of the 26 proposals that it says will deregulate its rulebook in one fell swoop. NCAA President Market Emmert said that the changes will “set a completely new tone” for the body’s rules, with a goal to giving individual schools more responsibility and flexibility. In effect, the NCAA is tossing those rules that its members found to be “annoying” while refocusing its mission to uphold the integrity of each sport.

Rule Changes

One of the more significant changes will take place as of Aug. 1, 2013, an update that will eliminate the current restrictions coaches can have with their recruits. Under the current rules, coaches are limited to the number of phone calls and other private communications that they have with their recruits. This rule has been particularly difficult for coaches to maintain given that social media is now an everyday part of how people communicate.

Member institutions have also been pressing the NCAA to eliminate restrictions on the number of coaches that can recruit off campus concurrently. The NCAA will also drop its oversight on coaches sending printed material to prospective student athletes. The current rule is a particularly onerous one as such materials are subject to certain size and color standards.

Money Management

Money distribution has also been a huge issue for member schools, with institutions sometimes severely penalized for minor infractions. The new rule permits schools to contribute up to $300 to student athletes annually per year to cover normal expenses such as attending non-athletic events. They’ll also be permitted to cover certain travel costs, goodwill tours and media appearances that had not been covered previously.

The rulebook changes will effectively eliminate nearly 25 pages from a 500-page tome that has long been considered outdated. The one proposed rule that was not accepted was to allow coaches to contact potential recruits as early as July 1 between their sophomore and junior high school years. The committee felt that the rule “could be intrusive for high school students” and decided that further review was necessary.

Under Consideration

Other rules discussed, but not brought to the committee for a vote, included allowing schools to provide a $2,000 stipend for student athletes. Largely opposed by member institutions, the stipends could help cover miscellaneous expenses not covered elsewhere. A needs-based version of the stipend has also been debated, but there was no consensus on allowing for one, at least not at this time.

Another issue that has received much attention in recent years is the imbalance between athletic programs, facilities and geography. With Alabama winning its third national football championship in four years, that issue continues to be raised. However, the rules committee felt that “such variability should not be justification for future legislation,” effectively recognizing that there will always be differences between the size of such facilities and the resources available.

See AlsoNCAA Rule Changes for College Football


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Categories: Collegiate Sports